Seeing Lazarus

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“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


They were seeing the evidence right before their own eyes – talking, touching, even hugging. He who was dead for four days now lived…again. The Chief Priests and Pharisees were beside themselves. They were livid, shaking with anger and spewing hatred. Not only did they plot to take the life of Jesus, but they also sought to murder this newly resurrected Lazarus.

This is possibly what kept the authors of Matthew, Mark, and Luke from recording this most public miracle of death to life. Only John, who wrote his gospel after Lazarus had died his second death, recorded this astounding sign of Jesus’ power.

We too easily forget that Jesus raised two others from death to life: the Nain widow’s son and Jairus’ daughter. This should have prefigured in the eyes of all – enemies and friends alike – that Jesus had the power to raise the dead if He so chose.

This third resurrection was quite public and was leading many to believe in and follow Jesus. This was too much for His sworn enemies, so the gospel authors chose to take a cautious approach and not stir up the threats on Lazarus’ life again. They remained silent. Apart from John, who wrote many years later after Lazarus died, we would not have known about Jesus calling Lazarus out of a dark tomb.

Lent can be considered a gloomy season. Sin is paramount, central to wrenching meditation, but then conviction of sin needs sufficient time to do its work in producing genuine repentance. If sin is contemplated only for a moment and then forgotten, the penetrating work of repentance finds too little depth to affect lasting transformation.

Sin is noxious and persistent. It is “whack a mole.” It is like the fog that creeps in on little cat feet. Sin is, in all reality, hard to kill. This is what we all experience. Paul expresses it well with his cry, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” The contemplation of Lent, indeed all the time, throughout the year, requires the hope that the battle will one day be over!

Sin kills, but as Jesus said outside Lazarus’ dark and gloomy tomb, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.” Yes, “the sting of death is sin,” and sin is hard to kill, “the power of sin is the law,” and the law endures forever, but “thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If it were not for the “Resurrection and the Life” standing outside Lazarus’ tomb, he would still be in it, not only then, but always.

Jesus does not remove the law, but He does fulfill it. He takes the law’s just punishment, which meted out death. He died, but because of His perfect obedience, death could not hold Him in the grave.

His perfect righteousness had in it the just power to remove the sting of sin which results in death. Consequently, all those who wear His righteousness as their own, through virtue of His death while He was their personal substitute, overcome death in their own future. They will rise again!

You see, the resurrection of Lazarus by Jesus says emphatically who Jesus is: “the resurrection and the life.” In the midst of Lent, He is hope that sin will not win. Sin will not keep you in the grave. Thanks be to God through the Lord Jesus Christ, you will rise. Sin and death do not get the win.

See Lazarus! Continue the present fight with hope in your heart. See “the resurrection and the life” in your eyes of faith. Keep your eyes on Him, and you will one day see Him, just as Job promised, with your own physical eyes, face-to-face, as He is (Psalm 17:15). Then, you too will be found in His likeness.


“Jesus lives and so shall I. Death, thy sting is gone forever! He who deigned for me to die lives, the bands of death to sever. He shall raise me from the dust. Jesus is my hope and trust.”

(First verse of Christian Gellert’s hymn, “Jesus Lives, and So Shall I,” 1757)

 

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Stephen Leonard

Paul Anderson Youth Home