My students and I are studying the story of the raising of Lazarus in John 11. As part of that story we stopped for a moment to observe one of the strong spiritual lessons associated with the event. Jesus had reached the tomb of Lazarus accompanied by the cries of the family as they reflect on the finality of death. Mary and Martha respond to Jesus with a questioning spirit as to why he had waited so long. According to Jewish legends, the spirit of the deceased remained near a body for three days waiting the possibility of return. The fourth day represented the point of no return because according to their legends, the spirit moves on at this point. Jesus had arrived at that supposed point of no return. Hope had faded and the finality of the situation had set in.
When Jesus asks for the stone to be removed, opposition from Martha ensues. She replies that there will be a bad odor and Jesus reminds her of the need to believe. The stone is rolled away and the miracle of resurrection takes place. What exactly does that stone represent?
The stones of doubt are those things in life which cause us to feel that all hope is gone and that we have reached a point of no return. They are the doubts that creep in when we feel that God is not there and that situations have overtaken us. While the stone remains, the miracle is stifled. The doubt in our life keeps us from seeing the possibilities that exist with God.
We are what often stands in the way of God accomplishing something great in our life. We place these stones of doubt between us and God creating a barrier to his blessings. The channel of blessing has been cut off. It is not God who is in the way preventing it from flowing, it is we who have created that barrier.
There is also another type of stone. These are called memorial stones and mark the path where God has intervened in a powerful way. They serve as reminders of the faithfulness of God and of the love he has for his children. We set these memorial stones up in our life to remind us of times in the past where God has answered our prayers and to offer hope for the future. The Israelites would set up these remembrance altars as points of reference for future generations to show that God is good and he will provide.
Which kind of stones reflects your life the most?
“Take away the stone…Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” John 11:38-40