Sunday, June 24, 2012

Lessons From Lazarus

One of my all-time favorite stories from the Bible is about Lazarus. Not only is it mind-boggling that he really, truly died and was raised to life again, but there are so many, many powerful nuggets of truth sprinkled all throughout John 11. 

Let's dive in!

"Now a man named Lazarus was sick." (John 11:1)

We don't know what was wrong with Lazarus, but it was obviously pretty serious. One thing we do know about Lazarus is that he and his two sister's were counted among Jesus' friends. Back in Luke 10:38 Jesus is a guest in their home. In Mark 14:3 and John 12:3 Mary is found pouring out an expensive jar of perfume on Jesus to anoint him before he goes to Jerusalem. And when Jesus is told that Lazarus is sick, he says, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep." (John 11:11)

Let me stop here and ask you a vital question: Are you a friend of Jesus? Is he welcome in your home? Would you give him your best? Does he call you friend? If you answered 'no' to any of those questions, I hope and pray you will do what you need to do to change your answers to YES before another minute passes!

When Jesus finally makes his way to Bethany, Mary and Martha are understandably upset. Their beloved brother is dead. They know, too, had Jesus been there, Lazarus could have been healed.

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." (John 11:21-22)

Martha believed Jesus was the Christ (v. 27). She knew he had power to do something amazing. But what?

When Mary arrives where Jesus is, her tears move him so deeply that he himself weeps. (v. 33-35) To me, the two simple words of John 11:34 -- "Jesus wept" -- are two of the most beautiful words in the entire Bible. Jesus already knew he was going to raise Lazarus from the dead, so his were not tears of mourning. Rather, they were tears of compassion. He loved Mary and Martha and Lazarus so much that their pain became his pain. The depth of their love and loss moved him to the point of weeping.

Friend, my heart tells me that Jesus still weeps with us when we hurt. I believe His love for us still runs so deep that he feels our pain in his own heart. I find that truly, truly comforting.

Finally, Jesus goes to the tomb where Lazarus' body was buried and he does the unthinkable. He asks for the stone to be moved away from the entrance. Martha is horrified. "But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there for four days." (v. 39)

Funny how Martha's faith from just a few verses ago has now slipped. Isn't that just like us humans? We say we believe something, yet when it's tested we aren't so certain anymore. Yes, Lazarus was dead. His body would have already started to decay. I can't imagine the odor that would have come out of that tomb.

But God is a God of the impossible.

Back in John 5:25 Jesus declared something that Martha, Mary, you and I should never forget:

"I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live."

Do you get it?!

Not even a dead, decayed, stinky, rotten, maggot-filled body can be prevented from hearing the voice of Jesus! Death cannot separate us from Him! (Romans 8:38) So, if even Lazarus heard Jesus say, "Lazarus, come out!" (v. 43), it isn't at all crazy to believe that YOU and I can hear the voice of Jesus calling to us! Calling us out of sin. Calling us out of unbelief. Calling us out of eternal death.

"Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (v. 44)

Can you imagine how cool it would have been to be there to see Lazarus wrapped up like a mummy, walking out of the grave?! And don't you know he had some a-mazing stories to tell?


Who knew we could learn so much from a dead guy!

This week's Prayer Shout Out Countries are:
USA, UK, Australia, Germany, India, Ukraine, Greece, Indonesia, Russia, Brazil, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates, Italy, Taiwan, Mongolia, Singapore


Terri Masters said...

Words I needed to hear today!

Michelle Shocklee said...

Thanks, dear friend!!
Love ya!