Summary: How to apply the raising of Lazarus.
What Is Your Stone?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a
stone lay upon it.
39 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.
40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest
see the glory of God?
41 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.
42 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.
43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face
was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. KJV
Most folks find the greatest thing about this passage is Jesus raising the dead. Some say it is the lesson of faith that was taught. Believe and the impossible will happen or do not judge by appearances. Some see the love of Jesus for Lazarus and that He wept for him as the most important part of this event. The assurance that the Father hears the Son is a great lesson. While I am there for those who do not believe in the Trinity, I reckon Jesus was talking to Himself here like a schizophrenic or something. Therefore, we have a good example of the Godhead in action here as well. While all these things are indeed glorious, I think that there is something missed here that is as equally glorious and needful.
Maybe it is just me, but have you ever asked yourself why Jesus had them roll away the stone? I mean He could have vaporized it. He could have had it land in the Temple courtyard or in the High Priest’s backyard. He could have spun it in the air so fast that it turned to sand and fell into the form of a statue or something. Why have the people roll it away? It is simple. They could do it. They could not raise the dead, but they could roll away the stone.
I think this is a valuable lesson in God’s interaction with us. He never asks us to do what we cannot do unless He is giving us power through the Spirit to do it. However, He will not do what we can do for ourselves. We feed babies until they can take a bottle and then we take the bottle when they can handle utensils. As they can do more for themselves, we do less for them. That is a natural part of growth and development.
In our spiritual growth, we go through the same process. When we are first saved, God just does all kinds of things in our lives that require no effort on our part at all. We are literally borne about by the Spirit like newborn babes. Then He starts backing that off and allows us to encounter situations where we need to make choices or seek His Word for wisdom. We actually have to think and do. We get into problems where we have to learn where we are responsible for the solution and where He is responsible.
There is also an aspect of participation. If Christ had done everything, those present would just be spectators. By rolling away the stone, those folks participated in the miracle. It was a small part, but it was more than those who just stood around and wondered or doubted. Others could say that they witnessed Lazarus being raised from the dead, but these lads could say, "Yes, I was there and saw it! I rolled away the stone!" Jesus wants us to participate and share in the miracles and blessings that He brings into our lives. He wants us to be responsible for what we can do and trust Him for what we cannot do.
The next time you get into a situation where it does not seem to help to pray apply the Lazarus principle. Ask yourself, "Where is my stone?" While the situation may be completely hopeless like you trying to raise the dead there still may be something God is waiting for you to do or to get out of the way before He will work. A coworker once asked me to go to his church with him and pray for him while he went up to request healing for his blood pressure in a James 5 service. I agreed. The next day at lunch he ordered a big greasy hamburger and fries. He then poured what seemed like the whole shaker of salt on his fries. I told him that I believed that God could heal, but in this case, it would be good if you helped God a little instead of tempting Him. If you stick your hand in a den of vipers, it is best to pull it out and receive the anti-venom. Getting the cure in one arm and leaving the other in the snake pit is not very smart. Pray for healing, but go easy on the fried foods and salt.