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Lazarus, Come Out!

In the eleventh chapter of John we read that a message was sent to Jesus about a friend of Mary and Martha called Lazarus who was seriously ill (John 11:33   The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, "Lord, behold, he for whom you have great affection is sick."
). However, Jesus waited two more days before setting off (John 11:66   When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was.
). In fact, Jesus was in no hurry because when he arrived Lazarus had already been dead for four days and his body had been placed in a stone tomb (John 11:1717   So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already.
). But Jesus ordered that the stone be rolled away from the entrance to the cave and He commanded, "Lazarus, come out!" Immediately Lazarus came to life and walked out (John 11:43-4443   When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
44   He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Free him, and let him go."

Raising Lazarus

Jesus could have rushed to Bethany before Lazarus died and healed him, but He wanted us to learn some valuable lessons. The first, and perhaps most obvious, lesson is that Jesus is the Lord of Life and He has authority even over death. In fact, commentators have said that such is the power of the Jesus' words that if He had not spoken the name of Lazarus in His command then every dead person around Him would have come back to life! However, the second lesson we learn is about our natural state. Like Lazarus we are dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:4-54   But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us,
5   even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
). Our situation is utterly hopeless. Neither we nor any other person is able to do anything about it. Yet when Jesus calls our name we are brought back to life and He draws us to Him. Having being brought back to life do you think that Lazarus would remain in the dark tomb? Certainly not! He heard the voice of Jesus calling him and walked into the light. In the same way when we hear the voice of Jesus calling us we will respond and come to Him. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28) What a wonderful truth!

But there is one other lesson from the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus could have miraculously commanded the stone to roll away, but instead He chose to involve us; He asked those with Him to roll the stone away. So it is with us in the Church. God has chosen to involve us in bringing His Word to the world through everything we do. Although it is the power of God that saves, it is by the words we speak and the lives we live which are to be a witness of the transforming power of God's grace.

So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

1 Timothy 1:8-10