Summary: Jesus calls us by name, brings us forth from death in sin, unwraps our soul and spirit, and gives us resurrected life just like he did for Lazarus.
John 11:39-45, "Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him."
When Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden and they fell victim to his lies, human history and our relationship with God was forever changed. At that very instant, when the first hint of rebellion against God’s law entered into the heart of Adam, the soul of man was forever sealed in a tomb of death.
Sin entered and death came, perhaps not physically to quickly, but it was an instant death spiritually that brought a separation between our loving God and us.
Just as surely as Lazarus was dead, buried and sealed away in a tomb, with a stone across the door, so was our soul, and our life, sealed in tombs of sin, with death as a stone that had sealed us in.
Thank God that he sent his only begotten Son into this world to make a way for our escape from that eternal prison. Thank God that Jesus didn’t refuse to die on the cross for our sin. Thank you Lord for being the first fruits of the resurrection. Because Jesus lives we can live also.
One day, I was sealed away in a tomb, dead to anything righteous and holy, dead to any relationship with God, until, like Lazarus, I heard a voice calling my name.
Lazarus had been dead for 4 days and he had begun to decompose. The heat of the desert country and the lack of preservatives for those who had died contributed to a quick decaying of anything or anyone who died. That’s one reason that it was a custom to bury the dead quickly before disease could spread.
I don’t know about you but I’ve seen and “smelled” a lot of decomposing spirits as I walk this life. Some were so bad that I could sense the death in them even when I wasn’t totally right with God. Once you have tasted of the sweetness of the Holy Ghost and you have known the Love of God in your heart, you never forget it and when you get around those whose lives are still dead in sin you can smell the bad attitudes and the effects of sin and death upon them. I’m not just talking in a spiritual sense either. Even in the physical realm, there are a lot of people who are so very unpleasant to be around. It’s like you can’t stand to be near them lest something rub off on you.
As Lazarus lay there in the tomb, there was no power within him to come back. He was dead to all things of this world, never to rise again, never to laugh, never to cry, never to work, and never to see the sunshine. Hope was gone; forever crushed under the sentence of death that lay upon him so heavily.
Then Jesus came by. He is the Resurrection and the Life! He had not gone to the cross yet but he still had power over sin and death, and in this instance, our Lord chose to show his power to bring back his friend from death.
The first thing he did was command that the stone that sealed Lazarus inside the tomb should be rolled away. It took a lot of faith on the part of Mary and Martha to allow the opening of the grave. You have to admire their courage to face the possibility that nothing would happen except one more scar in their lives if Lazarus had not come forth.
We know that there was no way Jesus could fail now, but I wonder if Mary or Martha knew that then? Even in the midst of doubts and fears they learned to trust Jesus.
Let that be a lesson to us as well. Jesus is the Lord of our circumstances, even when hope is long gone and it seems that the thing we prayed for the most is dead, Jesus can speak new life into the circumstances and bring forth a victory.