Summary: How should you live when you’ve been raised from the dead? There are some principles we can see from the life of Lazarus.
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus began to weep so the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because 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 looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me."
When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him and let him go." John 11:32-44
In Artesia, New Mexico, Mary Bratcher accidentally ran over her own pet dog, Browny. The family tearfully buried the mutt in a field near the house. Mary’s young son, Toby refused to believe Browny was gone. So did Browny’s Mama! The hound dug up her offspring, and the following day the family found Browny on the porch, caked with mud and dried blood. He was barely breathing, and they rushed him to the veterinarian. Browny suffered a broken bone in his shoulder, and a lost eye; but has recovered. The family gave him a new name -- Lazarus!
The real Lazarus was really dead. Jesus prayed, and called him out of a cold, dark tomb. The people stood around watching with their mouths wide open in amazement. Then Jesus told them to take the grave clothes off Lazarus – after all, he wasn’t dead any more – grave clothes get in the way of living. You don’t carry a coffin to work, or a shroud to the ball game.
Now, we usually stop there; Lazarus has been given a second start, and the Pharisees have been put in their place, and Mary and Martha are ecstatic over getting their brother back. But, what then? How do you go about living once you’ve seen the business side of the funeral home?
In John’s following chapter, the setting of the text is several weeks later. Jesus is about to be arrested, but pays a visit to Lazarus, Mary and Martha in Bethany.
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-8 (NRSVA)
The real Lazarus is a picture of our saved souls. Jesus gives new life, calls us forth from the darkness, commands the grave clothes to be stripped away, and goes with us to the supper table.
How should you live when you’ve been raised from the dead? There are some principles we can see from the life of Lazarus:
PRINCIPLE #1. WHEN YOU’VE BEEN RAISED FROM THE DEAD STAY CLOSE TO JESUS!
We are only in a position to be of use to Jesus in the Kingdom when we stay close. Mary and Martha both clung to the Lord. Martha did it in her way, busily running the kitchen; Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. That was Lazarus’ way also, reclining at the table with Jesus.