John 11:38-44 (CEV)
38 Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance.39 Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”
40 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”
41 After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. 42 I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”
43 When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.
Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”
Lazurus has died. His sisters had hoped and longed and prayed, but Jesus hadn’t come to save him.
Now, four days after his death, Jesus turns up. He is not exactly made welcome, but balled out for not having come sooner, not having been there to do something.
Whatever this account has to tell us about physical death and resurrection, I think it has a far more profound and everyday message to us – it is never too late.
We may think and feel that Jesus isn’t listening, is ignoring our pleas, refusing to help or has just abandoned us to our situation, but he has not. Sometimes he has different timing – the right timing, and a different way – his way. (This may come across as trite, I might have stopped reading by now and thrown the computer across the room! What I’m trying to say may come across as way too simplistic and easy, but this was the message that came out clearly to me.)
To all appearances and medical reasoning it is too late for Lazarus. The body has been cold for a long time. Lazarus has gone. He is beyond hope. But for Jesus there is still time, it is not over until he says it is.
There are situations for all of us when we think it is too late, things have gone too far, beyond reach. But the God of perfect timing can still reach in. We may think it is beyond hope, he knows otherwise. He may or may not act as we wish him to, God is perfectly capable of knowing what is the right thing to do and when.
So, if we are despairing, worrying, lost all hope – God can still do something, and will. The God of all hope remains with us.
Jesus calls, to us, “It’s not too late. Come out”