Friendship goes well beyond the grave. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus. Lazarus had many friends and was well known in the community. His two sisters were mad at Jesus because he allowed him die of sickness. His sisters knew that Jesus could have healed him if he had only arrived in time.
But Jesus chose to wait until Lazarus had died before he arrived. He then tried to convince the sisters, Mary and Martha, that Lazarus was fine and that Jesus could bring him back from the dead. Of course, he would return, they said, in the future resurrection of the dead. But we miss him now!
Jesus went to the gravesite where Lazarus was buried and was moved by the sight of sadness and mourning. Maybe it was the hopelessness people felt that a beloved friend was gone. But Jesus stopped and felt as a man feels at a gravesite of a close friend.
Jesus knew Lazarus was not gone forever. He even knew that Lazarus was going to join them shortly. But he was filled with emotion. Now he speaks: Lazarus, come forth. Lazarus comes out of the grave in his wrappings and Jesus tells the shocked people to help him out of them.
This incredible event reveals that friendship goes beyond the grave. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and all of Jesus’s friends will live forever. But Jesus was asking his two friends, Mary and Martha, to trust him in this moment. They had faith in him but it was thin. They could believe Jesus could heal their brother but raise him from the dead?
Do you have a friend who is far away? Does that matter? Distance does not diminish friendship. They can be on the other side of the world and they remain your friend. Jesus showed us that even when someone dies, they are still a friend and they are not forever lost to you.
Trust is the foundation of friendship. You trust a friend because they love you and care about you. It is the same with God. He loves and cares for you and me. More than we know. Is he far away? No, not really. We can be friends with him in a very practical way. As our trust grows, we can rely on him for many things. Maybe everything.
Remember that friendship is voluntary. You choose your friends. God has chosen you to be his friend. And he doesn’t care how much you ask of him. In fact, he wants you to impose on your friendship with him. He wants you to have an expectation of a great friendship that will be for your entire lifetime and beyond that.
How much of a friend is God? As much as you and I can love him. His love is great; ours is little. But our love for him can become greater. God will grow bigger in the relationship. He is good and very generous. And he will teach us the value of friendship and love during his process of making us more human. And we will come to know what is truly valuable in life and even beyond.