Picture # 12: Lazarus; the fields of the world are ripe unto harvest.
The dead man, Lazarus, in the tomb, is a candid snapshot of the whole world lost and condemned until Jesus comes!
Lazarus was in the tomb 4 days; the number 4 is the number of the world (John 11:17, 39).
Verse 1: “Lazarus was sick”; the world is sick in sin.
The sickness of the world will not end in eternal death if one becomes a believer in the Son (John 11:4 says “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
As Lazarus was dead and buried, the world is dead and buried in sin (John 11:14, 17-22).
It would have been a two day walk to Bethlehem from where Jesus first heard about the news of Lazarus.
So if we add to the 2 days walk, the 2 days that Jesus waited before he left, we come up with a grand total of 4 days, the exact number of days Lazarus had been in the grave.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life (John 11:23-26).
An example of witness is when Martha calls Mary (John 11:28-32).
An example of sympathy and compassion is when Jesus wept for the lost and His compassion for His friends.
“Take away the stone,” Jesus said in verse 39.
Take away the stone of ignorance.
Take away the stone of self-righteousness.
Take away the stone of arrogance.
Take away the stone of pride.
In verse 44, Jesus said, “Take off the grave clothes…”
Notice that when Lazarus was raised he still had on his grave clothes, but when Jesus was raised from the dead His grave clothes were left behind in the empty tomb.
Jesus had no need for grave clothes since He would never die again.
Lazarus would have need for his grave clothes because he would have to physically die again.
Take off the grave cloths and be free with Christ.
Living a good life doesn’t have the power to save.
Church membership doesn’t have the power to save.
Giving your money to God doesn’t have the power to save.
Baptism does’t have the power to save.
If water had saving power, I would stand out by the road at our church with a water hose and wet down every person who passed by.
The big question of any religion concerns death; and that’s the question to ask of religion: “Does my religion have any power over death?”
Notice that the cults of our world today are not in the business of raising the dead.
The great hope of our Christian faith is the resurrection of the dead.
In the gospels, there are 3 incidents of Jesus raising someone from the dead:
1. There was the 12 year old juvenile girl who died.
2. There was a young man whose body was being carried to the cemetery.
3. Then, we have the story of Lazarus.
All three of these people are people who had to die twice since they were not given glorified bodies at their resurrection.
Christ is the only one who is what the Bible says is “the first fruits of them that sleep.”
Mary and Martha did not make any demands upon Jesus.
They just tell Jesus their problem, and they allow Jesus to decide what to do.
So often we want to demand that our Lord Jesus do whatever it is we want Him to do.
That’s part of what we might call Burger King Theology.
What we need to learn how to do is to trust God and trust His plans for our lives.
God’s plans are often mysterious, but always effective.
We must also learn to trust in God’s timing.
God’s timing is often different from our timing, but it’s never faulty, never inferior, and never wrong.
Trust also in God’s power.
God’s power comes to us in a way that’s accessible to us.
The story of the resurrection of Lazarus is a story of care and compassion.
Jesus cares for us.
God often does impressive things in our lives.
Sometimes, God even does the improbable in our lives.
But here, we see that God does the impossible.
Lazarus was in the tomb so long that the Bible says “now he smells.” (verse 39).
Our sin stinketh before the nostrils of God.
Jesus did the impossible, and He called with a great voice, “Lazarus, come out.”
Someone has said that if Jesus had just called “come out”, every dead person in the cemetery would have been resurrected, but Jesus called Lazarus by name.
Dead people don’t come back to life; that’s the impossible.
But it happened, and God is still doing the impossible today.
People can change their hearts because God is in the business of bringing the spiritually dead into life.
This is the 12th candid snapshot of the maturing Christian.
The whole world is lost and condemned by God to an eternal spiritual separation from God, but Jesus comes that the world might have abundant life.
Jesus is the great “I am.”
“I am the resurrection and the life; the one believing in me even if he should die will live, and the everyone living and believing in me by no means dies unto the age: believest thou this? (John 11:25,26 Nestle Greek Text).
Rev. Jimmy Davis
Bayview Baptist Church
5300 Two Notch Road
Columbia, SC 29204