"Lazarus, come out." The man who had died came out.
-- John 11:43-44, ESV
He was Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, a good friend to all, and a close confidant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now he was dead, gone, buried in the tomb, his body decaying for four days. Because Lazarus was, Jesus was, there, right by the family's side, grieving, even unto tears. Jesus loved him, this we know.
Love caused the Lord to be "deeply moved," an unusual and very descriptive New Testament term. It speaks of someone who is upset, tinged with anger. Jesus is well known for His righteous indignation. He called the Pharisees a bunch of snakes and He literally whipped the tar out of money changers and others who were profaning the place of holy worship.
This time, the Lord was angry at the corruption of the world by sin, the fallenness and frailty of human flesh, and that old slewfoot the devil, too. He was angry that Satan had lured all mankind into sin, that sin had made man selfish and separated him from God, and the curses of infirmity and mortality had finally tagged someone Jesus particularly loved, the man named Lazarus. At least, he was Lazarus.
No one expected what happened next, except Jesus, who was about to change Lazarus from a "was" to an "is." It is important to understand and believe that Lazarus was stone-cold graveyard dead. Dead people cannot see, hear, walk, or talk. They cannot take the first step and let God take the rest.
Jesus spoke and the word of God, literally, was heard by the dead and the power in those words raised the dead to life. It was the word of God that quickened Lazarus' heart and lungs, jump-started his brain, reversed his rigor mortis, and enabled him to rise and walk.
Lazarus was, now Lazarus is. Jesus' resurrection of Lazarus was a miracle that overcame Lazarus inability to raise himself, unconditionally preferred Lazarus to other dead people in the world, was limited to raising Lazarus from the dead, irresistibly enticed Lazarus to come out of the grave, and kept Lazarus alive until God was ready to call him to his permanent home. The miracle of Lazarus is also a parable of saving grace. I know, because I am Lazarus!
I am Lazarus! I was dead spiritually because of my sinful nature, choices, and acts before Jesus came to me and gave me eternal life (ref. Ephesians 2:1ff). Being dead, I could not seek Him or reach for Him (ref. Romans 3:10ff), but He sought me and bought me.
I am Lazarus! I do not know why, but He chose to save me before I was born again, before I was even born, before He created the world (ref. Ephesians 1:4). He did not choose me because of anything He saw in me (ref. Romans 9:10-18), but because He sovereignly chose to love me and save me.
I am Lazarus! I am a member of a shortlist of the world's population to receive the benefit of Christ's perfect life and atoning death on the cross (ref. Romans 5:8). Not a drop of Jesus' blood will ever be wasted, and one of those drops hit me.
I am Lazarus! When I heard the word of God effectually (ref. Romans 10:17), I irresistibly repented (ref. Acts 11:18) and believed (ref. Ephesians 2:8) and followed the Lord. I could not have remained lost and unfaithful any more than Lazarus could have remained dead and camped out in the tomb.
I am Lazarus! I stand here now, spiritually and eternally alive, and will still be standing for the Lord until the day I die, by the Spirit and the word of God (ref. John 10:28; Philippians 1:6).
So come forth and experience the glory of God in the grace of salvation. Hear the word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. Climb out of the tomb you have built with your own sin and rebellion against God. Breathe the spiritual air of the Christian life. Follow the Lord in this life until in the next you see Him, face to face. When you do, just tell Him, "I am Lazarus!"
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]