Summary: We are all Lazarus, are we not?
“But Lord, He Stinketh!”
John 11:1-6, 17-19, 32-44
While I don’t use the King James Version of the Bible very often, I do use it sometimes.
And I love the way it describes the raising of Lazarus.
Jesus, after weeping and being emotionally moved, commands those around Him to open Lazarus’ tomb.
But there is immediate protest.
Lazarus had been dead for a few days, and everyone knew that rolling that stone away wouldn’t be pretty.
Martha calls out: “But Lord, he stinketh!”
I love that.
Of course, John is the Gospel of Signs.
There are seven signs and the raising of Lazarus is that ultimate seventh sign, revealing Jesus’ identity as the Christ.
But, as much as this sign is about Jesus, it’s also about us.
Because, in a very real sense, we are all Lazarus, are we not?
We are all dead and lifeless.
We are all wrapped up corpses in a sense…
…bound in grave clothes which sin lays on us…
…we are stiff and have started to smell a little rank.
Until-until-Jesus calls us out of the tomb!
Until He orders everything that binds us and holds us down, to be stripped off of us and tossed aside.
Until He breathes His Holy Spirit into us and makes us a new creation.
I grew up knowing about Jesus.
I went to church every Sunday.
I prayed every day.
But something was missing.
I’d go through the motions when I was with “Christians” or when I was at Church, but I wasn’t changed on the inside.
It was an act or a mask that I would wear, and then when it was over, I’d take it off.
Of course, because I didn’t really understand much about what it is to be truly changed on the inside, my act was a bit awkward and unnatural…
…but it seemed to work.
It wasn’t fun to play the role…
…but it was all I had.
In the meantime, as I mentioned, I knew a lot of wonderful Christians.
My uncle was a Methodist Pastor.
He was a great guy—filled with a love for God and people that was continuous…
…we spent a lot of time with he and his family.
And my mother was a Christian.
I witnessed her active faith up close and personal.
There were other adults who went to my church who I admired for their faith and love.
But notice, they were all adults.
For some reason, in high school I didn’t, as far as I was aware, know any kids who were active Christians and my age—I’m sure there were some, I just didn’t hang out with them.
In any event, I became a huge heavy metal music fan—remember that this was the 1980’s.
And so much about that music is negative, angry and so forth.
And my friends, my close friends were all smoking pot and so forth.
And so was I.
My grades weren’t good.
I felt lost, and I knew I was messing up.
I remember one night, sometime during Junior year, some friends of mine and I were hanging out in a local park partying.
And we started talking about what we were planning to do with our lives.
One of my friends said, “I’m just going to keep on doing what I’m doing right now for the rest of my life.”
And I thought to myself: “Not me. I have seen another way.
I’ve witnessed it in my uncle.
I’ve witnessed it in watching other preachers I’ve known and Christian adults.
I want what they have.
Someday, I’m going to be a United Methodist Minister, like my uncle.
I don’t know how I’m going to do it.
I’ll have to change, but I don’t know how to do that.
But that’s what I want be and do with my life.”
And that’s how it is before the wind of the Holy Spirit blows in our direction…
…before we hear Christ calling: “Ken, come out!”
It’s impossible to change ourselves on the inside.
It can only happen when we give our lives to Jesus Christ, as our Lord and Savior and make the decision we will follow Him…
…no turning back, no turning back.
As Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old is gone the new is here!”
Again, we are all Lazarus.
We stinketh, until Jesus calls us out, frees us, and gives us life.
But here’s the thing: we can’t experience resurrection—new life in Christ until we experience death.
We can’t accept new life in Christ until we allow our old stuff, our sinful lives to end.
What do you need to let die this morning, so that you can come out of your tomb?
What binds you to death, and keeps you from living abundantly, fully as a new creation in Christ?