Easter is just around the corner, a time many people associate with its chocolate wielding bunnies and egg hunts. But before everyone is left with sugar crashes and excessive amounts of foil wrapping we thought it was important to take some time over the next two weeks to have a look at the meaning of Easter and the impact it can make in our lives. This week we’re going to look at a story that we don’t normally associate with Easter, that of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead which can be found in John 11:1-44 (which can be found here). I want to look at three things Jesus did, and three things Lazarus did and how we can apply these to our lives.
Let’s start by looking at the three things Jesus did. The first thing Jesus did was he came. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick and dying he left where he was and went to be with Lazarus and Lazarus’s family. We can see from verses 8 and 16 that Jesus was putting himself at risk by going to see Lazarus, there were people there who wanted him dead, but he chose to go anyway. In the same way, Jesus came for us. Jesus came to earth knowing that it would result in his death. The opportunity to offer us salvation was more important to him than the suffering he would endure. And Jesus is still there for us today, Revelation 3:20 says “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” He comes to us wanting relationship.
The second thing Jesus did was showed compassion. It shows quite clearly in the passage that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. We can see through how he comforts and encourages them that he cared about them. Martha, who was the ever practical one, states that if Jesus has been there then Lazarus would not have died. Jesus responds to her pragmatic nature by stating clearly to her that Lazarus would come back from the dead. He meets the practical person with a practical response. Then when Mary comes, who is a more emotional personality, he sees her grief and cries with her. Jesus shows his compassion by responding to each sister in the way most meaningful for them. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.‘ He tells us that he has compassion on us as well, that he will meet us where we are and help us with our loads.
The third thing that Jesus did was called. Once he had comforted Martha and Mary, he ordered that the tomb be opened. He then called out to Lazarus to come out of the tomb. He doesn’t complicate it, he simply stands there and calls for Lazarus to come out. He knows that the miracle has happened, that Lazarus is alive, all that needs to happen now is for Lazarus to accept the new life that has been offered to him. Time and time again through scripture we see the Jesus making the offer of new life. In John 10:10 he says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The life that he offers us isn’t just an average life, but a life we can live to the full through him.
Now we’ll have a look at the three things that Lazarus did. While in the passage it gives very little detail about what Lazarus did, I believe there were at least three things that we can take from the passage. The first thing that he did was that he recognised Jesus calling him to life. He would have woken up and found himself in a tomb, and quite possibly been confused or uncertain as to what was going on. Yet when he heard Jesus call to him, he knew the voice and knew that he needed to do something.
This leads us to the second thing Lazarus did, he responded. When Lazarus heard Jesus’s voice he had a choice. He could continue to lie there in the tomb, or he could respond to the call of Jesus and come out to life. It might seem like a no-brainer, but so often we see people with a choice to leave something which is not good for them and step into something better, but they choose not to. Now I know it’s not always easy to leave things behind and move into a new life, but think about it, Lazarus was wrapped in cloth and laying in a tomb. He had to physically get up despite his restrictions and make his way out of the tomb to be completely released. Lazarus chose to get up from where he was and follow Jesus’s voice. He chose to actively respond to Jesus.
The third thing Lazarus did was he received. When he got to the mouth of the tomb he allowed his sisters to free him from the cloths he was wrapped in. He received the freedom that Jesus had offered him. He didn’t cling on to the grave clothes, or ask just to hang out there a little bit longer, he accepted his freedom and new life. Lazarus had been given the opportunity to live again, and he gratefully accepted it.
So what about you? We have seen through this blog that the same things that Jesus did for Lazarus and his family he has done for us. He came to earth, he has compassion for us, and he calls us to salvation through him, now it’s up to us to listen to his call and make a decision as to whether our response will be to receive the freedom he offers us. Maybe you’ve never given much thought to Jesus before, or never made the decision to accept him. He is waiting for you to respond and would love to do life with you. Or maybe you’ve accepted Jesus but still hang on to some of your old grave clothes, Jesus is offering you the opportunity to be free from them and live your life in abundance. Either way, Jesus offers you life, all you need to do is accept it.
- Can you think of a time where Jesus showed up in your life? What happened?
- If not, how might you invite Jesus to be part of your life?
Jesus showed compassion:
- We saw that Jesus ministered to both Martha and Mary in the way best for them. How does Jesus meet your needs in tough times?
- How can you give Jesus the chance to minister to you more?
- Jesus called Lazarus from death into life, what is Jesus calling you to?
- How are you going to respond?
- How do you recognise the call of Jesus in your life?
- What do you do to make sure you can hear him?
- How do you respond when Jesus speaks to you?
- What are the things that make it harder for you to respond? What needs to happen to deal with these?
- What things have you received from Jesus? What impact have these made in your life?
- Are there areas in your life where you are holding onto things you shouldn’t? Take a moment to ask Jesus to help you let them go so you can move into his freedom.