Today’s miracle is the resurrection of Lazarus, which is typically well-known and oft looked at. I’m going to take a slightly different slant on it to hopefully bring a fresh, but still very Biblical view about this miracle.
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” – John 11:38-44, ESV
We know from the setup that Jesus could have arrived earlier, while Lazarus was still sick, and healed him. Jesus chose not to. We also know that when Jesus arrived, he was so moved by the grief of Mary and Martha that Jesus Himself wept. We know that through this Jesus once again showed He had the power over death. But one thing I hope you see is how Jesus showed His power over sin and how through His grace we are transformed from what sin has done to us to something that is pleasing to God. Only God can accomplish this. Despite our best efforts, we cannot overcome sin. We cannot redeem ourselves from sin. And we cannot make ourselves into anything that is pleasing to God. It requires Christ and Christ alone. Only He has the power to transform us in this way. And transformation is what we need.
Lazarus was dead. We too are dead in our sins. Our sins cause a foul stench in the nose of God. Notice that Martha protests Jesus asking for the stone to be moved away because she knows that a body laid to rest for four days should have an odor. It has begun decaying. That’s what sin does to us. It causes us to decay spiritually. It destroys us slowly but surely. Sin also binds us up, just as Lazarus was bound in linen strips, a traditional burial for that time period. And it locks us in the dark, not allowing us to see the light that is Christ, much as Lazarus was locked up in a sealed tomb. The parallels to what sin does to us are uncanny in this event. But there’s even more for us to see.
Only Christ can break the hold of sin in our lives. Only He can restore us to life. He restored Lazarus to life and then commanded that he be unbound. This is what Christ does for us through His redemption on the Cross. He removes the binding sin has completely wrapped us in. He restores life to where there was only death. Not only that, but when He restores us, we go from being a foul odor to God, an unholy and unacceptable stench, to one that is pleasing to the Father. So, too, must this have happened with Lazarus when Jesus brought him back to life.
Now here’s where it gets really good. Jesus turned to Martha and said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” She did. Her brother was brought back from the dead. He was alive. But do you realize that if we live the life we are called to, the life that we can only live because Jesus has removed the bindings of sin from us, that those around us can see the glory of God just like Martha did? They will see the life we have through Christ’s redemptive act. They will see a changed person. Lazarus was changed from dead and decaying to alive and advancing. This is what folks should see in our lives, too. We aren’t dead, but alive. Alive in Christ. Alive for the Kingdom of God. Alive and filled with joy and hope. Advancing the Kingdom. Advancing in our growing faith. Advancing in our knowledge and relationship with the Living God. We are Lazarus! Or we can be if we show the life our Christ has given to us.
Are you alive in the Lord? Does His glory shine through you? Or are you still kicking it around with folks from the old neighborhood, death and sin? If you are surrendered to Christ, if you are one of His, the choice is yours. You can be the Lazarus for the folks you come in contact with. You can show what a life lived in Christ is really like. You can be the instrument which He uses to shine His glory and further His Kingdom. Or you can be something else. But for the One who said to you, “Live!” why would you want to be?