Monday, March 4, 2013

It's a Corpse

By Odon Bulamba

“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” John 11:38-39

Lazarus was physically sick and poor and didn’t have a good job to rely on money. At that time there was no government support for those that were jobless, so if you had no job or ability to work, you had nothing so you had to work hard to get something in those days.

Regardless of his poverty, Lazarus was a good friend of Jesus. He was a good friend of the man whom we call God, he was a good friend of the one who possesses everything, who can create money, life and the existence to everything. Imagine if Bill Gates said you were his best friend, you will feel special.

Even though Lazarus was a friend of Jesus, it can’t be read in the Bible that Jesus came to Lazarus with money or gifts because their friendship was not based on material things. On a few occasions Jesus visited the family of Lazarus and He was fed and He left. The Bible doesn’t say how much money Jesus left behind.

While Jesus was travelling His friend Lazarus became sick to the point that no one could intervene, nobody could support him, the community was there but no one could look after him and the two sisters were there to see if his health could improve but they were not capable of healing there brother.

Sometimes we face situations when we feel stressed and pressured because we don’t have a solution to our problems and those around us, our neighbors, don’t know what is going on. They say hello, how are you and we answer we are good but deep inside, there is a problem we can’t share. Because our neighbors can’t support us, we are obliged to see our family and sometimes they also are unable to find a solution to the problem.

Lazarus was very sick and he knew that he was going to die if he didn’t find healing. He might have thought, ‘The man Jesus who can heal, who supports others and changes their lives is my best friend but where is he now? Maybe he told Martha to tell Jesus he was sick. Phones didn’t exist in those days and Martha and Mary didn’t know where to find Jesus. I’m sure wherever Jesus was, He knew that his friend was sick but He knew it wasn’t His time to go because He would only go there for God’s glory, so He had to wait.

The more that Lazarus got sick, the more that their hope was decreasing. For example, you need something and you ask others and they can’t help you and the more you can’t sort it out, the more it presses down on you and you keep asking others to intervene and they can’t help. Maybe you had a friend/family member who has been sick for a while and have been going through a series of problems, and you have been trying to get solutions (dr, hospital, others) but no one can help.

Someone went to see Jesus and told Him that Lazarus is sick. Jesus said, “I’m coming.” Imagine you call an ambulance, and you ring 111 and they say, “can you hold for 10mins, I’ll get back to you”. If someone is dying, how will you feel?

Lazarus was going through this...Jesus was going slowly and not rushing while others were under pressure and fear. If I were Lazarus I might judge Jesus, ‘now I’m going through hardship, this so called good friend doesn’t even turn up’. Jesus was told on his way that Lazarus had died.

Imagine a friend who comes when your hope is completely gone and you don’t’ need them anymore. Imagine a friend who tells you that if there is any problem, call me first and then he is the last one to come. Imagine the ambulance arriving at the mortuary to help to take the body back to hospital. How will you feel?

Martha was straight with Jesus, ‘you are too late, regardless of your promises, it is late’. Maybe she was angry, maybe she felt disappointed with God, maybe she felt pushed away from God’s plan. In our lives when we face challenges we feel like we are far away from God. I remember some days I would kneel down and pray and ask God to help me and I’d count down the minutes and God says nothing and I’d start to feel, ‘are you really God, why can’t you do this in my life?”

Many people who don’t need God’s help, these are the ones He continues to help, He gives them a good job, good bosses, money, cars, health, houses and He keeps giving. Others pray for a job and God leaves you four weeks without a job and you lose courage to say thanks to God while He says we must be thankful in all situations. We lose courage to be thankful because God doesn’t respond.

Here Jesus went to the tomb. Maybe the family thought, ‘Where were you when he was alive, we needed you and you didn’t intervene, you used to heal those you don’t even know but this one was a good friend’.

In Israel, they believed that every family should have their own tomb where you take the body when you die and wrap it in material and leave it for three days and they believed your spirit would come out of the body and be there for the next 72 hours and if life doesn’t come back, then you are declared dead and then your body will go to a second place for decomposition and a name written for memory.

So they believed the spirit had already left Lazarus and he couldn’t be helped anymore. You and I have challenges in our lives, every step we make there is a challenge following you like a shadow. No one can tell me that in their daily life that they will go through a day without challenge, they are there even if we try to forget them.

At this stage Jesus stood up and told them to remove the stone. Sometimes you believe that with a problem you have failed because it is too late – you wanted to find a husband and you have failed because it is too late and there is no hope but God will ask, what is your problem and you say, forget about it, I asked you before but you didn’t help so forget about it.

They removed the stone, Jesus didn’t do it. They respected Him and did it but Martha was right, the body was decomposed and the odor was not a good one. In one of the jails in Cote d’Ivoire to torture prisoners, when one dies, they leave the body there with the other prisoners. They see how the body changes, it swells, the colour changes, the smell is bad and what you see coming from inside the body is unpleasant – you can’t look at it twice and they leave the body there for weeks and you can’t eat, sleep or look at it but you have to live with it.

Sometimes your problems make you sick but you are forced to live with it because there is no solution. If that is your case, you have problems that are decomposing, you still need Jesus, He is still there for you.

The crowd was there to comfort Martha. This crowd were not there before when she needed the help and now there “sorry” doesn’t help at all. How often do we intervene when our brothers or sisters cross a hard time. When Colleen’s father was in hospital, who took the step to visit her? No one. We were all busy with our own business. It is sad to see people shouting for help but we wait until the last minute to rub there back, sorry for what happened.

Those neighbors started to talk about Jesus and they wanted to see Jesus, not Martha or Mary. Jesus started to cry. What was He crying for, for the crowd? For his friend? Because He had not been there? Imagine you present God your situation and He cries. You might think, ‘what a hypocrite’ because while he was alive, you didn’t care but now he is dead you want to show you care.

Jesus prayed, “thank you father because you listen to me”. What a powerful message. Do you pray that too? When things are going wrong do you say, thank you for listening to me? Maybe you complain and say, I told you from day one when the problem started but you didn’t show up.

“Lazarus come out” Jesus knew Lazarus couldn’t walk because his body was enveloped in material. Jesus didn’t listen to Martha’s “the body is decaying”, He put it aside and no matter how hard is your problem, Jesus is the solution. Don’t be disappointed because you don’t see the solution yet, it might take years but Jesus is coming closer and closer and you may even forget about your prayer by the time you get the answer but you will get a solution.

Imagine someone you know very well who has passed away a few days ago and then you see them on the street. You will be shocked. Jesus knows our problems, our situation, our needs and He is the only one who can be the solution for that. Our family has built up a tomb where we go to discuss our problems but very often we don‘t find a solution. The cave where we put our trust is not where we find solutions. If you put trust in man, put your trust in God. Sometimes God doesn’t come running, He sometimes walks slowly but He will always come and bring a solution. Money is not the solution but God is the solution

Money pulls us, everybody is fighting for money, even pastors. We don’t go to work because we enjoy it but because of money. If the money is a lot then it is a good job. That is not a good job, a good job is where God’s will is, where you put God first. Today in West Africa people join witch craft because of money – its common. If a man wants to go to USA without a passport/visa/money, no one will stop him, he will board the plane without any ticket and he will fly to the US and there he pays the magician back home.

Some people wake up in the morning and decide to see someone for money – they use a traditional African basket and every single night at midnight the basket will have a snake that will grow big and then vomit money. This is reality not a legend. When you feel it is enough, you can tell snake stop but you must not show anyone that snake. Later you will have to go back to the witch and the witch will ask you to give the snake a break, some food and some drink but they don’t drink water, they will ask for human being blood and not from the blood bank, you are obliged to give away your son, or your mother. At first you give away one person every 2 years and then it becomes one per year, then it becomes one per month and if you don’t pay, you will become mentally sick so you are obliged. It is common in Africa to see a man with 7 wives and 70 children to sacrifice one child per month just for money.

Take your challenges to God and at the right time you will be happy.

Let’s pray now and tell God all your challenges and ask God to sort out your problems.

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