Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice,“Lazarus, come forth!”
Everyone knows someone who talks a good game but doesn’t always walk it like he talks it—and at one time or another, we’ve all been that person to someone else. And aren’t we up in arms when we identify that in others! It’s natural to be incensed when people fail to practice what they preach. We throw around words like “hypocrite.” It’s a breach of trust, we mutter amongst ourselves. How can we believe in them again?
And so we extend this breach to every other aspect of our relationship with them. They failed to live up to their end of this unspoken bargain, so they can’t be trusted as they were before. A parent is no longer a role model. A friend is no longer a brother. We’re so easily let down, our trust so fragile, our faith so easily shaken.
The truth is, the world will let us down, and those of us who live primarily in the world will be no different. And we lead by example—so when we are let down, we will ourselves eventually let others down. When we sit in judgement of another’s failings, we will ourselves one day be judged by others for our own.
But those who follow in Jesus’ footsteps will not be disappointed. Christ is our foundation, our cornerstone, and the cornerstone of our Christianity is the belief that, in the Spirit, we’re taught how to become more like Jesus. Well, Jesus wasn’t God in some cunning disguise, come to trick us into believing that He was one of us. Jesus was a man, a human being just like us, but a man living in completely the right relationship with the Father. His example is the example we are led by in the Spirit. Because we can utterly trust that example, we have an expectation of how God will be with us. It’s the cornerstone of our faith in Him, His utter reliability and consistency in His dealings with us.
Look at the story of the raising of Lazarus. Jesus was a personal friend of the family, called by Lazarus’ sisters to come to him in his illness. Jesus waited two days to travel to Bethany to visit his ailing friend, knowing that an opportunity had arisen to demonstrate the glory of His Father. Upon His arrival, the sisters both individually took issue with His late arrival, avowing that had He arrived on time, Lazarus could have been saved. They weren’t alone—others in Bethany saw Christ’s arrival and whispered behind His back that He could have prevented His friend’s death. Even here, among people who believed in Him, there was the tendency to find fault, to believe the world’s teaching. That people will only let you down.
Jesus was a man, and a compassionate one. Remember, these were close friends of His. He loved Lazarus like a brother, and Mary and Martha were as close to Him as sisters. He wept with them, moved to tears by their grief and loss, unafraid to show His emotion at the tragedy, even knowing the miracle that was about to take place, because a happy ending doesn’t preclude the sorrow that comes before. And then He showed them, and everyone gathered at the tomb of the friend that He loved, the example He intended to set.
He asked Martha, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” And He called to Lazarus to come forth, and so demonstrated His power of life over death through His Father in Heaven. Instead of healing His friend, He displayed something else, something truly extraordinary. The concept of resurrection, of the power of His Spirit over death, is central to our faith, and here Jesus was gifted an opportunity to demonstrate the spiritual metaphor as literal truth. In doing so, He gifted us an example…an example of how He, and the Father, will never let us down, and an example of the kind of person He was in the Spirit, and the kind of people we can be if we follow Him.
Earlier, when the disciples had questioned His wisdom in returning to Judea, where political forces were conspiring against Him, Jesus replied, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He expected great things and excluded worry and fear from His plans, because He believed in the Father.
Look to your own life—are there areas where you could do with following the example of that boldness, that commitment to the expectation of greatness? Because we walk in Christ’s footsteps. We are the example to others that He is to us. Our compassion is the inspiration to others, as His compassion is the inspiration to us. Our inspiration is the motivation to others, as His inspiration is the motivation to us. We walk in the day and we do not stumble, and others will see us, as we saw Him, and walk alongside.