I’ve been accused of preaching “easy believism.” That’s a term used to discredit those who argue for salvation by faith alone, apart from works. Believing in Christ only opens the door to the possibility of salvation which must be fleshed out by good works! I say “nonsense!” The key doctrine of the reformation and of Paul’s theology is that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. By the way, the longer I’ve lived as a Christian the more certain I’ve become that there is nothing “easy” about trusting in Jesus Christ alone for my salvation. Actually, there are times in my life where such faith contradicted everything I saw happening in my life and in the lives of others. I’ve always argued that saving faith is not believing that God exists. Satan does that! No, it’s trusting God to have my best interest foremost in mind regardless of the circumstances and very often in spite of the circumstances. I think this is the lesson that Mary learned in John chapter 11.

You know the story. Lazarus was sick. They send a messenger to fetch Jesus. Jesus sends the messenger back to Bethany telling Mary and Martha not to worry, Lazarus isn’t going to die! It appears from the flow of the events in the story that Lazarus dies before or shortly after the messenger returns with the promise that the sickness would not result in Lazarus’ death. There’s Mary and Martha with the obvious fact of Lazarus’ death in contrast to the promise from Jesus that he wouldn’t die! For all practical purposes, Jesus’ promise failed! Doesn’t it seem that way sometimes? So they wrap Lazarus in burial clothes and bury him as was the practice. Then they had to deal with the issue. Can I really trust God’s promises? Can I put my destiny in the hands of someone who’s promise failed? This is where we find often find ourselves.

Jesus stayed away for a couple days to make sure the burial took place and that Lazarus had time to stink before he made his way to Bethany. He didn’t want there to be any doubt about what was going to happen. Before making his way to Bethany, he told his disciples Lazarus had died and in John 11:15 said, “I’m glad, for your sake, I wasn’t here when it happened.” How could Jesus’ absence at a time he was most needed be a “good thing” for those involved? I’m convinced that it offered Mary and Martha the opportunity to wrestle with “easy believism.” It really isn’t all that easy to trust God in all of life’s circumstances, is it? God choreographs each of our unique lives and daily situations in the way we need it most to learn that we can trust Him no matter what happens! He may let the trials linger, but eventually, all things do indeed work together for good for those who trust God.  Jesus has been away for a while now and there is nothing easy about trusting His promises. But I’m persuaded one day we’ll all hear, “Lazarus, Come forth!”