Just days before Jesus entered Jerusalem, on the last week of His earthly life, a remarkable and mind-blowing event took place. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This is a very familiar account to anyone remotely connected to the Bible and a favorite lesson of Sunday school teachers everywhere. The challenge is being careful not to allow the familiar to make us blind to the powerful truths in this incredible event in Jesus’ ministry.
1. Timing is everything. Jesus performed this miracle just days before His own arrest, crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. You can’t help but think Jesus wanted God’s power over death on the minds of everyone as He entered into Jerusalem. This miracle was so strategic that when He received word that Lazarus was sick, He intentionally delayed. The scripture says in John 11, “3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.” Jesus intentionally delayed…to make a point! Jesus’ timing was such that He wanted people with a fresh expectation that God could raise the dead! Incidentally, this is an expectation He wants to renew in us every year at Easter!
2. His fame was enormous. This one miracle push Jesus’ fame over the top. This was the miracle to top all miracles. The hype and fame surrounding Jesus was so strong that people began following Jesus all the more. This frustrated the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem. They felt their power slipping away. The decided then to shift their efforts from simply trying to discredit Jesus to look for the best opportunity to kill him. We all know this part of Jesus’ story. We all know that the Jews accomplished their goal. In all my years of Bible study, I usually blow right past Lazarus and hurry on to the final week of Jesus’ earthly life and focus on Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. However, the story of Lazarus is incredibly vital to understand what it means to live for Jesus today!
3. Kill the proof. Not only did the Jews want Jesus dead, they also wanted Lazarus dead. John 12:9-11 says, “9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.” Why would they want Lazarus dead? Because he was the proof of God’s power. He was living proof that Jesus can and did raise the dead!
4. You’re next. Why does this matter to you? Because your spiritual enemy wants to kill the proof of your life. Satan does not want your life to tell the story of God’s resurrection power. He does not want people placing their faith in Jesus because of you. He wants nothing more than to convince you that your life is all about you. He wants you to be a nice, Christian who lives a good life, colors in the lines and above all…keeps quiet. This explains why you can talk about virtually any subject with those close to you except the Gospel. Suddenly, our closest family members and friends feel like strangers when we consider sharing the Gospel. Suddenly, we feel uncomfortable in conversations. In our efforts to be nice and non-judgmental, we often forfeit our opportunity to be salt and light to this world. I can tell you something for sure…if you were Lazarus, you would live and speak without fear of any man, after all, what’s the worst they can do, you’ve already died…been there, done that. Saved people speak up.
As we reflect on the coming days, especially, Good Friday and Easter, remember that Jesus willingly died, was buried and was raised from the dead to prove to you that there is hope beyond sin and death. He lives today at the right hand of the Heavenly Father, constantly standing in your defense. His Spirit lives in you to empower you to be the proof that Jesus still welcomes sinners, He still forgives, still saves, and most certainly is still ALIVE. So, I urge you to be the proof today. Don’t live like you are dying; live like you died and were given new life!
In rare form, I will boldly ask you to share this post, perhaps this reminder might have us all a bit more willing to be the proof.
If you want to hear more about the Good News this Good Friday
and Easter, Highpoint Church would love to see you and your family and friends!