March 26, 2015

Killing Lazarus

I don’t remember ever hearing a message about “the plot to kill Lazarus.”

What happened earlier is more familiar. The death and resurrection of Jesus’ close friend Lazarus is recorded in John 11:1-44. Jesus heard that Lazarus was dying but waited an extra two days before he headed off to see him. But the time Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead four days and was already starting to decompose. As the KJV puts it, “by this time he stinketh.” The extra time had allowed many people to arrive to mourn Lazarus’ death. Then Jesus commanded the stone in front of the cave to be rolled away. Jesus prayed out loud to the Father and said that this was so “that they may believe that you [God the Father] sent me.” Then Jesus commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead and come out. And he did. 

The raising of Lazarus is a familiar story but I had never paid much attention to the “plot to kill Lazarus” tucked away in the next chapter:

“When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.” –John 12:9-11

It takes a lot of nerve to plot to kill a guy just after he was brought back from the dead! What was the reason that people wanted to kill Lazarus? Was it because they had something against Lazarus personally? No. People wanted to kill Lazarus because his physical resurrection was undeniable evidence that Jesus was who He claimed to be. That miracle was very public and obvious. Many people knew Lazarus had been dead. Now they could see he was alive. People were coming to faith in Jesus because they saw the signs of life in Lazarus. The enemies of the light wanted to put an end to that.

If that is the case with Lazarus, what should we expect?

There is such as things as physical resurrection, but there is also spiritual resurrection. Physical resurrection is when someone is physically dead but is brought back to physical life. On the other hand, spiritual resurrection is when someone is spiritually dead and is brought back to life spiritually. This happens at the moment of salvation. Ephesians 2:1 says that we “were dead in the trespasses and sins” in which we once walked. Ever since Adam's rebellion, each of us come into this world spiritually dead—separated from the life of God because of sin. Even Christians were “by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Eph. 2:3) Thankfully, God did something about this. The next verse says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” This is spiritual resurrection. Salvation is being made alive again.

When God raised Lazarus there were obvious signs of life. He wasn't just laying there anymore. People could tell that he was no longer dead. In the same way, people should also be able to see signs of life when someone receives spiritual resurrection. It doesn’t outwardly look the same for everyone, but at salvation God starts the process of changing us from the inside out. We receive a new heart. New affections start growing—new loves. Sins we used to love become bitter. The things of God that we used to find dull turn from black and white to color. Some people are able to say goodbye to deep sinful habits. Others start to struggle against them—when there wasn’t even a struggle before. People find themselves wanting to read God’s Word, go to church, and pray and worship…not because they have to, but now because they want to. These changes are noticeable.   

Our lives should be a testimony to what God has done. It takes a miracle to physically raise someone from the dead and it also takes a straight-out miracle to raise someone to life spiritually. That new life did not come from the corpse. Corpses don’t do anything. God did it and God gets all the glory. Whether the changes seem big or small, fast or gradual, people see them. Some people will be happy with what they see. Others won’t.

Are you living a life that God’s enemies would be worried about? Or not? Does your life give evidence to the world that Jesus Christ saves and changes lives . . . or does your life, so far, give little or no evidence of Christ’s work?

They wanted to kill Lazarus. If we are living changed lives we should expect that some people won't like it. Darkness hates the light. Sin hates a contrast. Sinners like other people to sin with them because it helps down out feelings of guilt. Those who hate Jesus won't like it. Satan certainly isn’t going to like it. He doesn't want more people to put their trust in Christ. Satan doesn’t want people to look at your life and see undeniable evidence of Jesus’ power to give new life. The enemies of the light want to cover that up. Expect that. Prepare for that. But don’t let it happen.


1 comment:

  1. According to the Bible, how many Old Testament prophets raised people from the dead? Answer: Two. Elijah and Elisha.
    That's it. And they only did it three times. So the act of raising someone from the dead would have been seen as a very, very big deal. It was not like healing someone of a disease or casting out demons. Lots of people, it seems, could do those miracles. Nope, raising someone from the dead was the big kahuna of all miracles! Is there any instance in the Bible of a false prophet or a prophet of another god raising the dead?

    In the Gospel of John chapter 11, we are told that Lazarus had been dead for four days. His body was decomposing to the point that he stunk. Lazarus death and burial were very public events. His tomb was a known location. Many Jews had come to mourn with Mary and Martha and some of them were wondering why the great miracle worker, Jesus, had not come and healed his friend Lazarus; essentially blaming Jesus for letting Lazarus die.

    Let's step back and look at the facts asserted in this passage: Only two OT prophets had raised people from the dead, and these two prophets were considered probably the two greatest Jewish prophets of all time: Elijah and Elisha. If this story is true, the supernatural powers of Jesus were on par with the supernatural powers of the greatest Jewish prophets of all time! If this event really did occur, it should have shocked the Jewish people to their very core---a new Elijah was among them! This event must have been the most shocking event to have occurred in the lives of every living Jewish man and woman on the planet. The news of this event would have spread to every Jewish community across the globe.

    And yet...Paul, a devout and highly educated Jew, says not one word about it. Not one. Not in his epistles; not in the Book of Acts. Think about that. What would be the most powerful sign to the Jews living in Asia Minor and Greece---the very people to whom Paul was preaching and attempting to convert---to support the claim that Jesus of Nazareth himself had been raised from the dead? Answer: The very public, very well documented raising from the dead of Lazarus of Bethany by Jesus!

    But nope. No mention of this great miracle by Paul. (A review of Paul's epistles indicates that Paul seems to have known very little if anything about the historical Jesus. Read here.)

    And there is one more very, very odd thing about the Raising-of-Lazarus-from-the-Dead Miracle: the author of the Gospel of John, the very last gospel to be written, is the only gospel author to mention this amazing miracle! The authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke say NOTHING about the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Nothing.

    To continue reading:
    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2016/01/the-story-of-lazarus-is-blatant.html

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