John 11:43, ”When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out””
This is the familiar account of the resurrection of Lazarus, sister to Mary and Martha.
Lesson 1 – Jesus Timing is not always our Timing – “Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days (v. 11).” Isn’t it puzzling to our human minds to think that upon hearing of Lazarus’ sickness, Jesus didn’t treat that news like a 911 call? No Jesus stayed where he was another two days before He left to be with Lazarus. There are times when we call upon Christ in prayer and He says not yes or no, but wait. The Palmist said, “I waited patiently for the LORD? he turned to me and heard my cry”, Psalm 40:1. It’s in the waiting on God that we learn to trust Him. We live in an society of instant gratification of minute rice, e-mail, cell phones, etc…. However God lives outside of time and therefore is not bound by it. To God all time is now. Noah’s flood and your situation are not worlds apart in light of eternity. One day in eternity we will understand this, but now we are bound by time. When Jesus finally arrived on the scene Martha shares that if Jesus had only been there while Lazarus was sick he would not have died. Again she was thinking about human timing verses God’s timing, but how can we blame her, after all she was human, and her faith was being tested.
Lesson 2 – Jesus reveals His identity – “23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” Jesus was trying to help her see that she was thinking of the resurrection as an event, and Jesus was showing her that His identity was the resurrection. Jesus was the great I AM that He proclaims in John 8:58, “before Abraham was born, I Am!” It’s crucial for us to know not just what Christ can do, but who He is, because it is because of who He is that translates to what He does.
Lessons 3 – Jesus uses people to do His Work – Jesus gave two commands for others to do to take part in Lazarus’ miracle. First Jesus commanded them “Take away the stone,” to which Martha replied, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” Secondly, Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” Now Jesus and only Jesus could have called Lazarus back from the dead. It’s been said “When E.F. Hutton speaks people listen.” However death would have placed its icy hands of its ears if E.F. Hutton had said Lazarus come forth. But when Jesus cried with a loud voice “Lazarus come forth,” “The words of Jesus cut through the icy grip of death like a white – hot blade through soft powered snow”, Ray Comfort. Not even death could silence the words of the great I AM, the Resurrection and the life, because death had to concede, and forfeit the victory to life. Surely if He could raise the dead, He could move His own stone. Didn’t an angel move His stone in His resurrection? Yet, Jesus commanded the stone to be moved by others. There are times when we need to preach the Law of God to the stony heart of a sinner so the stone is moved to make way for the gospel seed to be planted. Mark 4 makes this clear. God told Ezekiel 36, “19 I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. 20 Then they will follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God.” Their heart needs the stone moved. And God called us to preach His Word, and if we are speaking to a prideful hearted person, their heart of stone needs to be moved and by using the Law of God to break the hard heart, and then use the gospel to heal the broken hearted. Jesus calls the dead sinner to life, and then we are to be used to remove the grave clothes. New converts will have some of the stench of the world upon them and be wrapped in the grave clothes of some old worldly habits and thoughts, and it is our job to help remove the grave clothes, that is make a disciple out of this person.
Application: Do you wait for His timing patiently? Do you know His identity? Are you being used by God to remove stones in evangelism and grave clothes in discipleship? Jesus prayed, “Not my will but your be done” Pastor Phil <><