One of the most powerful scriptures is the raising of Lazarus from the dead by Jesus. We have mentioned the story before, but let’s look at this from a new perspective.
It is found in John 11:17-44. Jesus had been told about Lazarus’ death. He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They were some of His best friends. He loved them and was very troubled when He received this news.
John 11: 17 – 44: “When Jesus arrived, He found that Lazarus had already been dead in the tomb for four days. ‘Now, Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother.
“When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, while Mary stayed home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give You whatever You ask of him.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
“Martha said to Him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’
“She said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
“When she had said this, she went back and called to her sister, Mary, and told her, privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to Him.
“Now, Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up, quickly, and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to tomb to weep there.
“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.'”
This was not a big feat for Jesus because He had raised others but none who had been dead for so long, not to the point that even the followers of Jesus had lost Hope.
Mary and Martha had been hit with a major crisis and they felt that it was over; they were hopeless. We, often like Mary and Martha, have been faced with a crisis and felt we would never recover. Life would never be able to proceed forward; things would never change – no hope.
Change? Is it the end of the road? Is it over? Might as well give up? Do you ever feel that way or do you know someone who does?
This Lazarus story has all the signs. He was dead for four days. The odor was strong. Nothing could change that situation. It is hopeless. Except for one thing. JESUS. With Jesus, there is not such word as Hopeless. He taught us not to look at what things appear to be. Even if there is an odor, no activity, wrapped in cloths.
Now Lazarus was in the tomb, just as described above. So he was in a hopeless situation himself. He was dead.. It was the end of the road, Kaput, aufwiedersehen, playing taps here. …. .. And up walks Jesus.
Now as Lazarus lies there, stiff, let me ask you this question… Are you entombed? We can only entomb ourselves. No one can entomb us. They can help us to be healed, but no one can entomb us. Even Lazarus thought things could not get worse for him. He felt he had reached the end of the road and nothing could make him improve. The prognosis seemed hopeless.
How sad to live with Jesus as your best friend and still feel that hopelessness.. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha – all three of them had totally given up all Hope.
Now just wait a minute. Let’s not forget our good friend, Jesus. Through the salvation of God, through the living Christ’s presence, there are no hopeless situations.
Jesus epitomizes Hope. Every word from His mouth speaks of Hope. He has the Hope we need to move forward out of our tomb of hopelessness. His first words were, “Take away the stone.” What does that mean? Take away the stone? Well, I believe – that stone represents hopelessness. We’re all inside that tomb with a stone blocking the entrance/exit. But, once the stone is rolled away, once the prison bars are swung open, our situation changes and we are no longer trapped, no longer entombed in hopelessness and negativity.
Taking away the stone removes any negativity or hopelessness. Do not let yourself be locked inside that cold, damp death-filled tomb.
We can’t predict the future, but we can carry the hope and faith of God with us everywhere. People are quick to give up on those who carry addictions or bad, negative habits, thinking they will never change. But many change their lives and become leaders in the community, in their churches, in their homes – all because they had the faith to roll away the stone.
“Not only do we want to behold the presence of God in the people around us, but we also want to behold the presence of God in ourselves. Sometimes, we beat up on ourselves and think, “I guess I never will do what I want. . .I never will lose the weight I want to lose . . . I never will find the right job. . .I never will find the right relationship.” CIC
Push that stone away; open the way; your whole life is waiting; all you have to do is walk out of that tomb. We put ourselves in the tomb; we can take ourselves out. We do so with the power of the Almighty helping us to push that stone away.
We know God’s power and truth. Now is the time to start living that truth. We can only do so by trusting and following our Savior.
“Lazarus, come forth!” Remove the stone and unwrap the layers of wrappings holding us, entrapped in our limitations. Once unwrapped and free, you will know that through the Lord, we have Hope, and we have Glory given to us by Him. We are not encased in limiting wrappings or locked in a tomb. We are free to be all God has for us.
“Come forth. Take away the stone, come forth, and unbind yourself. ” Jesus says.
Please pray with me.
Lord, we thank you for giving us the ability to see beyond the visual. We know You are here for us and help us to push that stone away. Only You can guide us through that opening and help us unwrap ourselves from our personal limitations.
Thank You, Lord, for giving us the power to see Your Truth, to see that Lazarua lives and that the Lazarus within us also lives and has been set free. We ask You now, God, to let Your Holy Spirit completely envelop each of us, touch our minds and hearts with Your truth.
Thank You for showing us the truth, for giving us the Savior that through believing in Him, we know through His power that we can also believe in ourselves without limitation
And so it is . . . Amen.