Today’s reading is one of the more well-known passages in the gospels – the raising of Lazarus.
Jesus is very clear that Lazarus is, in fact, dead – and John is careful in his telling to make sure we have no doubt about this fact. He mentions specifically that Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days – according to Jewish tradition at the time, after four days resurrection was impossible. It seems like Jesus deliberately left it a bit longer before travelling, in order to make sure no-one could discount the miracle that followed!
There are two points that jump out at me from today’s scripture
1. Jesus addressed God out loud for the benefit of the onlookers.
“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Jesus was very clear that we should not pray for show – but when we minister to the sick, it is essential to ensure that the recipient – and any onlookers – are quite clear about the source of their healing. We use the name of Jesus not only because we believe in Him, but also to remove any doubt about what the source of the power is. Saying “In Jesus’ name” isn't a set of magic words, but it's good to be clear.
2. This point is a more recent realisation about the miracle that followed.
Picture the scene from Lazarus' point of view. Suddenly you wake up in a dark tomb, clothed only in bandages.
You know Jesus has just commanded you to come out… BUT
“This is going to freak people out”;
…and various other thoughts go through your mind.
You have a choice in that moment – to walk into the second chance at life that Jesus has just gifted you with – or to lay there in the tomb and keep quiet, just glancing out at the sunshine breaking through the gaps between the stone and the doorway.
Can you see where I'm going with this?
How often do we stay “in the grave” rather than risk embarrassment or awkwardness by breaking out of our bandages – the things that bind us – and enjoying the freedom that Christ died for us to have? If you believe in Jesus, then like Lazarus you have resurrected life – not just in the hereafter but right now – and the purpose of it is that you give life to others along the way.
So let’s not lay in the tomb anymore feeling awkward – lets grab LIFE, and the freedom that Jesus died on the cross to secure for us – every day. There’s a song by Rend Collective that's a particular favourite of mine lately and it begins “This is MY resurrection day, nothing’s gonna hold me in the grave”. I'm actually using it as my alarm tone on my phone, by way of a daily reminder.
Let’s make today, and every day, our own personal resurrection day. Time to “come forth”, in Jesus' name!
Thank you Jesus for new life. Thank you that because of your sacrifice on the cross I am free from sin, fear and every other bondage that would hold me back from living life to the full and serving you with all my heart, mind and soul. Help me to live resurrection life, each and every day.