The room is full of weeping. The finality of death weighs heavily on those present. Expectation is ended, all hope is gone; Lazarus has passed away.
At the sight of the Teacher, all their mourning is reactivated and their tears fall again, together. Jesus, with all the perspective of the Divine, enters into their grief with them. He doesn't offer them cold words of instruction or chide them for having little faith. He doesn't even try to cheer them up or comfort them with promises of the future. Instead, He weeps with them. "Take me to the tomb," he says.
Then, He asks-- He commands-- the impossible.
"Lazarus, come forth!"
John's account says that he came out of the tomb still bound in grave clothes. Jesus' next words were, "Unbind him and let him go."
I've been living in this story for the last few months. I've grieved. The pain of a specific brokenness in my life had been cleverly disguised behind a number of masks, in part from shame. "If I really grieved this before the Lord," I thought, "He'd tell me how ridiculous it is that I feel this way. I shouldn't be this hurt, I shouldn't be this upset." But Jesus gently disagreed with me and forced me to a place of honesty. When I got there, He met me in my grief and wept with me. He saved the lessons and the words of wisdom. He didn't try to cheer me up. He just said, "Tell me the whole story."
And then, Jesus commanded me to do the impossible. He told me to go back to that very place of hurt and brokenness and repay evil with love. He commanded me to give up the fight of self-protection and to live freely, vulnerably, and generously. He's been calling His people to this kind of thing for a while. "Seek the good of the city where you are in exile"; "Love your enemies"; "Forgive seventy times seven; "Pray for those who persecute you"; "Lend without expecting anything back." He commands all of us to extend our withered hand that He may heal it.
What I'm learning is, with the very command of Jesus comes the power to obey. That's why He could literally tell a dead man to get up and walk and see it done. He never calls us to do what He will not accomplish.
This week He is asking the impossible. "Walk into danger where you have no power to protect yourself. Relate to a culture you've never known. Meet their needs. Heal the sick. Give sight to the blind. Raise the dead."
With His command comes the power. By His Word are dead hearts raised to life.