While he walked the earth, Jesus worked many incredible miracles. He multiplied loaves and fish to feed over five thousand people. He cured the blind, the crippled and lepers. He walked on water and stilled the raging storm with his command. He drove demons out of the possessed.
All these wonders were meant to teach the people who witnessed them one thing - that He was more than a brilliant teacher or an inspired prophet. He was the Messiah, The Son of God, sent to the world to die for our sins and to offer us the hope of everlasting life. He was God Himself come down to Earth with power over sickness, over nature and over life itself.
Many who saw Jesus’ miracles with their own eyes came to believe in Him because of them. However, many others refused to believe despite the many signs He performed. Though they could not deny Jesus’ power, they could also not accept that God would become man. No matter what Jesus said or did, they could not believe.
Today we witness the seventh and last sign offered by Jesus in the gospel of Saint John - the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary were dear friends of our Lord. It was their great honor to have Him as a guest in their home many times. Jesus would often visit them to rest from His travels or to get away from the crowds which were always pressing Him.
Jesus loved them very much, so when word reached Him that Lazarus was sick, we would expect Jesus to rush there right away to heal Him. But instead He waits until Lazarus has died and is buried to begin the journey to Bethany. Certainly Jesus could have cured him and prevented his death. But He had an even greater miracle that He wanted to perform. He wanted to show His followers that He had power not only over sickness but over death itself. By allowing Lazarus to experience death, He was able to do something even more wondrous for him. And through that sign many came to believe in Him. Through the miracle, He confirmed His words to Martha which have continued to ring out through the centuries: “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
When He walked on the earth, Jesus showed that He had power over life and death. How much more real is that power now that He has conquered death on the cross and risen to Heaven! Whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, we must always remember that nothing happens to us that is not allowed by God. And if He allows it to happen, He will give us the strength to get through it and will make immeasurable good come from it. When we face challenges and tragedies it is natural for us to say to God as Martha did, “Lord, if you had been here this never would have happened.” But God is always with us, and He is in control of all the events of our lives. If we trust Him and believe, we will see His glory, He will work wonders in our lives and many will come to believe because of it.
Many times, when we find ourselves faced with a difficult situation, we ask God for a sign that He is with us. Sometimes, in His mercy, He will grant our request. But more often it does not work that way. Usually we must first show God a sign that we are willing to trust Him before He begins to work wonders for us. As He said to so many people He cured, “It is your faith that has healed you.” The signs of God’s presence are all around us. Faith gives us the ability to see Him at work in every detail of our life. It helps us to discern the blessings laced through all the moments of struggle. Faith is the difference between those who see the miracles and believe and those who see but look the other way refusing to believe.
Jesus words to Martha are also directed to us: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” The miracles of Jesus are not a thing of the past. He continues to work marvelous signs in the lives of those who believe. His glory continues to manifest itself to those who trust Him no matter how difficult life becomes.
If we are having trouble seeing God at work in our lives, then all we need to do is ask for the gift of faith, and He will grant it to us.
We can be transformed here and now by the greatest of his miracles, the most glorious sign of His presence among us - the bread and wine which will be changed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is given to us who believe. He promised that all who eat this bread will never die. We grab hold of that promise with confidence and hand ourselves over to Him, the Lord who has power over life and death.