Coming to Life

by Sylvia Bambola January 13, 2014 14:07 PM

Lazarus, a “certain man . . . of Bethany,” and a friend of Jesus, falls ill (John 11:1-54. At once his sisters, Martha and Mary, send for Jesus. Who else could heal their brother? Who else could turn this trouble from their home?

The Bible clearly states that Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters. But what does He do? Instead of rushing to their aid, Jesus delays for several days. The reason: “to honor God . . . to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”  By the time Jesus reaches Bethany, Lazarus has been dead for four days. That means rigor mortis and decay has already set in.  

The stage was now set.

When Martha sees Jesus she blurts, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It’s curious that she immediately follows this statement with, “even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You.” What did she expect Him to do? Raise Lazarus from the dead? I don’t think so because when Jesus tells her that her brother will rise again, she says she knows he’ll rise “again in the resurrection at the last day.” And even after Jesus responds with “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me although he may die, yet he shall live,” then tells her to have the gravestone removed, she protests, “Lord, by this time he stinketh.”

We all know the dramatic ending. After the stone is rolled away, Jesus shouts, “Lazarus, come forth.” Just those three words, “Lazarus, come forth.” And then there comes Lazarus stumbling out of his grave “bound hand and foot with grave clothes” and his face “bound about with a napkin.” What a sight he must have been!

There is so much here it would take more than a single blog to cover it all, but I will make three points. The first is that Jesus truly is the resurrection and the Life. Like Martha, those who believe in Him have the assurance they will be raised to life after their death to be with him for all eternity. But there’s more. What Martha didn’t understand is that Jesus can resurrect our life right now. And that’s my second point. Before we come into the knowledge of Jesus we are like one “dead.” But after we become His, we have new, resurrected life right here on earth.  And finally, after we’ve come into the saving knowledge of Jesus, like Lazarus we are still covered with smelly grave clothes. Though the Bible tells us we are a new creature, it also tells us we must renew our minds. There are still issues or habits that need to be removed, parts of that old former dead life that continues to cling to us, to our way of thinking, to our mindset. It’s these still-clinging “grave clothes” that often create frustration in a new believer. But removing those grave clothes is a process, not usually completed in a day.

It’s interesting that Jesus commands those around Him to ‘loose” Lazarus and “let him go,” indicating our need for others in the body of Christ and showing the importance of being connected to a church, a Bible study, and other believers, though none of these can ever take the place of the Holy Spirit, Who will lead us into all truth, Who will guide and direct us, and ultimately conform us into the image of Jesus Christ, an image of resurrected life without grave clothes.

Until next time,


Category: Spirituality

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