Are you familiar with the story of Lazarus? If not let me briefly and crudely recap it. (But you can find it in John 11 & 12. If you’re familiar feel free to skip down to the third paragraph). Lazarus was one of Jesus’ friends and Mary Magdalene’s brother. While Jesus was traveling and ministering, He found out that Lazarus had become very ill. Instead of dropping his mission and running to Lazarus, He continued His Kingdom Business and subsequently Lazarus died. By the time Jesus got to where Lazarus lived, he had been dead for 4 days, was wrapped up in burial clothes and in a tomb (John 11:17). Jesus told Martha (Mary and Lazarus’ other sister) that Lazarus would rise again, but Martha believed he meant at the resurrection in the last days when “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thessalonians 4:16 & 17). But Jesus said “I AM the resurrection, and the life: He that believes in me, even though he is dead, shall live: and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26.)
Now the whole time this is going on, everyone around the situation is upset that Jesus waited until Lazarus had already died to show up. They had seen Him heal the blind, the lame, the sick, a woman suffering from a blood disorder for decades. They knew he could have healed Lazarus’ sickness, but they had not yet fully understood that NOTHING is too hard for God. So He instructed them to remove the stone covering Lazarus’ tomb and Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Then Lazarus came out of the grave living once again. (John 11:40-44.)
I tell you that to tell you this. In John 12, the picture is set for Jesus to return to Jerusalem for Passover. At the time, Jesus had pretty much ticked off every religious figure-head in the region because they refused to believe that He was who He was. They were angry that large amounts of people were leaving the old way of thinking and moving past the legalistic ways in which the church operated at the time and were believing in the Messiah. When Jesus came riding in to Jerusalem on a donkey with hordes of people singing Hosannah and praising his name saying Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord (John 12:13) well, they got a little nervous. They did not want people listening and following this man. They didn’t want anyone to believe that He was indeed the Christ, The Savior. Well, walking along side Jesus was a man named Lazarus, whom people knew had been dead. The Chief priests got together to conspire to kill Lazarus for it was because of him that many people had deserted them and believed in Jesus (John 12:10-11). He was a walking living testimony of the power that Jesus exerted through the name of his Father God.
This is a great story, but I view it also as a parallel to what we go through as Christians today. When we realize how broken we are; when that light bulb goes off and we truly see how lost we are, we realize we are SPIRITUALLY DEAD. Good and dead; 4 days in the ground stinky dead! But that is also the moment where Jesus has that stone rolled away, that veil something holds over our eyes that keeps us from realizing how lost we are, or even more dangerous: how much help we DON’T need…
Jesus pulls that curtain back and cries out,”Come FORTH!” He releases us from that blind sleep. He spiritually resurrects us from the death of whatever it may be. We are alive again because He lives! We are cleaned because He was always clean!
That’s good news. But the story didn’t stop when Lazarus got up and it doesn’t stop when we get up either. Lazarus’ resurrection made people uncomfortable because it challenged their beliefs. Lazarus was walking living proof that they were wrong about who Jesus was. So when you have spent years in whatever your struggles are and seemingly one day you are resurrected and freed from them, the people around you that know you as that dude that always cheats on his wife, or that girl who has been abusing pills for years, or your drug dealer or your old hook ups call you and you say you’re done with that life, they won’t believe. They will challenge you. They may threaten you. They may leave you. They will probably try to drag you back down. You are now a walking living witness for Christ’s redemptive power. That can be intimidating to some.
And unfortunately, I’m not just talking about non-believers. Some believers may challenge you too. Remember, it was the CHURCH that wanted to kill Lazarus for what he represented! Sometimes, even other believers won’t believe you can change. Or they may believe you haven’t changed “enough.” Or they believe that your “sins” are so much worse than their “sins” so you aren’t worthy of their Savior yet….(im sorry if that one is low.)
But ONLY mankind judges you by your human standard. In truth, God judges you by His perfect standard which none of us have or will meet, but Christ already met on our behalves! We are not new because we are now holy, we are new because HE was, is, and forever will be Holy! Remind yourself of this every day.
See, these stories aren’t in the Bible for no reason. I believe there is a reason Lazarus wasn’t healed from sickness but was brought from death. We can fix sick. You can go to the doctor, you can change your diet, you can do all kinds of things, on your own, to fix sick. But the wages of our iniquity isn’t sickness, it’s death. We can’t fix dead…
But Jesus DID!
But we behave like Martha, and still don’t understand that NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR GOD. We keep trying to help Him fix it. We keep trying to climb to some randomly self chosen height so He can reach us. But we fail to realize that we can never fall far enough to get away from his Loving Embrace. And once He’s grabbed a hold of you, you don’t have to ever look back on your past because the Blood washes it all away.
Lazarus had an illness that killed him, but when Jesus called him out of that grave, he didn’t walk out alive AND sick, he was just ALIVE. Maybe there were residual signs of his illness: some mark or scar that evidenced his prior situation, but he was definitely no longer defining himself by that illness. So, this is not to say that we won’t continue to stumble and slip into an “old you” situation, sure we will. But in those moments we should stop identifying as the sick or the dead and just believe and remember that Christ has overcome. Christ overcame it all for all of us, and it is HIM that continues to cover our sickness.
Other people may dwell on your past…. Let them. That is not your concern. Keep your eyes on The Way.
Be strong. Walk right next to Jesus everyday for the rest of your lives. He wants to be personal to you. Each of you. It sounds counter-intuitive, but keeping your focus on Him and what He has done for you, will radically change how you feel about your own life. Look at it this way: Lazarus was proof of the power of the Man riding along beside him that all could see. BUT GET THIS POINT: the Bible doesn’t say Lazarus uttered a word. His mere presence WAS HIS witness. By merely seeing Lazarus, people knew Jesus was the savior.
No one can see Jesus next to you. They can only see Him through what He has done INSIDE of you. What he has done inside of me…
I was raised in churches by great Christian parents. But I was still “dead.” I was good and dead. 4 days in the ground stinky dead! I thought it was up to me to get myself to some point, some level of GOODNESS that would make me acceptable to God. I still believed the Gift was somehow earned. I believed that I should be getting stronger and sinless every day, so when I still struggled I felt God didn’t accept me. But the truth is, we actually become wiser and further realize just how weak and sinful we really are, and how PERFECT Jesus was, is, and continues to be ON OUR BEHALF. I am not a good person, I just have a Perfect Savior!
But I suppose you cannot wake up until you admit you are asleep.
Is He calling you out of your spiritual grave? Will you stay, or answer His call, “Lazarus, Come Forth!”
Since this is called, “Between the Notes”, This post brings to mind the lyrics of I Am by Kirk Franklin
I am so far from perfect (so far)
I thought life was worthless (yes)
Until you showed me who I am (but you showed me)
Not here by mistake (thank you)
No luck, only grace (thank you)
I’m on my way to
Who I am (I’m not ashamed), I am (look, I’m not the same)
I am (I’m letting go of the pain), I am (yes Lord)
Thank God I am (more than what you see)
I am (not yet what I shall be), I am
You didn’t give up on me while I was still in the process
Hallelujah God that could see what I couldn’t see