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And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:26.

A certain man was sick, a man named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister, Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair whose brother Lazarus was sick.

The Desire of Ages tells us that from their very first meeting, Lazarus’ faith in Christ was strong; he became one of the most steadfast of Christ’s disciples (page 524). All of them—Mary, Martha, and Lazarus—became close friends of Jesus, and whenever He came to Bethany, He went to see them. They were united in a close bond of fellowship and love.

Jesus did a lot of traveling, and He was far away from Judea, where Bethany is, when Lazarus became ill. Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus, “He whom You love is sick.” Surely because Jesus loved them so much, He would come back immediately to heal Lazarus. But Jesus sent back the words, “This sickness is not unto death.” They rushed to Lazarus’ bedroom. “Lazarus, can you hear us?” “Yes.” “Don’t worry, Lazarus, you’re not going to die. Jesus said so.”

And then he died. That must have been hard to take. The person who doesn’t sit at Jesus’ feet invariably ends up getting mad at God, blaming God for allowing all his troubles. But for the one who sits at Jesus’ feet, it’s different. And despite the shock and grief they must have been feeling, Mary and Martha did not waver in their faith; they did not blame Jesus for Lazarus’ death.

After an unhurried wait of two days, Jesus said to His disciples, “We’re going back to Bethany now. Lazarus is asleep.” His disciples thought Jesus was talking about sleep in terms of resting, and couldn’t understand why Jesus wanted to go to wake him up. Finally Jesus said reluctantly, in language they were familiar with, “Lazarus is dead. But I’m going to wake him up.”

Jesus went back to Bethany and was met by Mary and Martha. Their faith had remained despite their loss. You know the rest of the story. The stone was rolled away, and Lazarus was awakened to life. What we call death is only a temporary separation. It’s not eternal. And each of us can look forward to the great reunion when Jesus comes again.