Resurrection and New Life Day 3 – Lazarus Raised to New Life
“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. … When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed home. ‘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.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’” (John 11:17, 20-25a, NIV)
Have you ever attended a funeral that ended with rejoicing because the deceased was risen to life again? I feel confident to say that none of us can relate. Buried and sealed in a tomb for four days, Lazarus had most certainly departed from his body and left this earth. His sisters were grieving. The mourners had gathered to lament his passing. Even though Jesus was told days prior that Lazarus was sick, He took His time in making His way there, but it was for a very specific purpose—to glorify the Father.
They didn’t understand His delay initially, feeling perplexed and maybe even a little angry that He had not come sooner. They knew He could heal, but bringing Lazarus back from the grave was not something they had considered. Both Martha and Mary told the Lord that, had He been there, their brother would not have died. Both came quickly when they realized Jesus had come. Both were understandably upset. And both would see Jesus shed tears of compassion for their loss, for He dearly loved these friends of His.
The miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is amazing enough. By bringing His friend back to life, many would see the power of God the Father. His purpose in doing miracles wasn’t to glorify Himself or sensationalize our faith. Rather, it was to give credence to His claim to be the Messiah and show the power of His Father in heaven, hopefully leading many to believe and come to faith. Bringing the dead back to life wasn’t an everyday occurrence—or was it?
I think of stories of addicts, thieves, murderers, adulterers—of any sinner. Entrenched in sin and spiritually dead, they are trapped in a grave of their own making. God grieves for them. Their family members possibly mourn the devastating ruin of their sin. Locked away from freedom, they sink further and further away, unless they are willing to consider another way, the only way to lasting freedom—Jesus! For each one who comes to faith, there is a “walking out of the tomb” moment.
Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and, while others looked on, called him to come forth from his tomb. After four days the smell of death surely permeated his burial place. But linen cloths tightly wrapped around Lazarus’ body were no match for his Creator and His power even over death. Rising from his resting place, Lazarus didn’t stumble with weakness, barely able to move. No, Jesus’ authority over death breathed new life into Lazarus so that he walked out fully healed and fully alive.
When Jesus spiritually brings us to new life through His shed blood on the cross, He doesn’t breathe some life into our dead souls; He gives us abundant life! As much as we are in awe that Jesus had power over the grave of Lazarus, it’s no less thrilling and miraculous that He’s done the same for us spiritually if we have come to Him for salvation. Far too often, the miracle of my own resurrection to new life in Christ loses its wonder.
Reading through the story of Lazarus reminded me of myself. While Lazarus was physically raised, I’ve been spiritually raised. The purpose in both these events is that God might receive glory and others might come to salvation through Christ. Am I reflecting the new life I’ve received? Do others look on my spiritual walk and see evidence of Christ within me? These are sobering questions to ask. If God is to receive glory from my resurrection from spiritual death, then I need to be a living testimony for Him.
Just as Mary and Martha would have wept with joy at the resurrection of their beloved brother, we rejoice with all of heaven when a sinner we love comes to Christ. Gone are the sins that once held them captive and kept them from living in the freedom Christ longs for us all to experience. Each soul who comes for spiritual healing will not be turned away. Do we truly grasp the miracle and wonder of this healing? Our God is so powerful, and yet so filled with mercy and grace. If you’ve received healing from your sin, praise Him today. If you’ve not yet come to know Him as your Healer and Savior, make no delay! He is waiting for any who will simply come and believe.