As the disciples followed Jesus day after day toward Jerusalem, they still couldn’t put two and two together on what Jesus had told them and didn’t do so until after his resurrection. He told them specifically three times that he would have to suffer many things at the hands of the Jewish religious leaders and Romans, that he would be killed and that on the third day he would rise again. The only thing on their minds was the unimaginable idea that he would actually be killed. That was the end of all would be Messiahs. And to top it off that it could be on a cross, which likely would be the case (hadn’t Jesus told them of the need for any would be followers to take up their cross and follow him?). Their theology did not comprehend a Messiah who would die, much less one who would be nailed to a tree and thus under God’s curse. Nor did their theology understand a resurrection apart from that at the end of the age. And so they were rather lost.
As they neared the end of the journey, Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick and died. It would seem that Jesus could have appeared before he died and most certainly would have healed him. Instead he waited, it would seem purposefully too long. The account is a breathtaking one, Martha’s faith evident, just as was Mary’s acceptance that this was their brother’s end apart from the resurrection to come at the end of the age. Here is Jesus’ exchange with Martha:
After that we see what happened. Lazarus, who had been dead for four days was raised to life. Of course Lazarus was to die later. That wasn’t the resurrection for him which awaits the end with the full resurrection of creation in the new creation when Jesus returns and heaven and earth become one in him.
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
The disciples were near the end of their journey by this time. The first Holy Week would soon be upon them. And we know what happened at the end. Which holds promise for everyone who has put their faith in Jesus. Our full humanity which includes our bodies will be brought to life in and through our resurrected Lord.