Pella Chronicle

July 24, 2013

Dead or alive

By Rick Cowman
The Chronicle

Pella —

This week we pick up our study through the gospel of John in chapter 11, with the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  Here we find some spiritual truths Jesus is teaching us through this miracle.  First of all, Lazarus was dead (verse 14).  His family was mourning his departure from them.  Physical death separates us from people;  but spiritual death separates us from God!  It is sin that brings spiritual death.  The Bible teaches that all of us have sinned and that the penalty for that sin is spiritual death!  And dead people don’t need medicine or religion;  they need life!  And that’s what Jesus offers!
We also see Lazarus’ body was decaying (verse 39).  The longer a body is dead, the greater the decay.  And the longer sin takes its toll in our lives, the greater the decay from sin.  While someone on skid row shows more of the effect of sin in their bodies, the CEO executive in a $500 suit is just as dead in his sin without Christ!  Mary and Martha were upset because Jesus was too late to prevent Lazarus’ death.  But it is never too late for God to turn a life around, and He will use whatever means necessary.  And God sometimes accomplishes His greatest work through the event of death!
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and gave him a new life!  But before He called out of Lazarus, He had the stone removed from the tomb (vs 39).  Are there any “stones” in your life that are keeping you from responding to Jesus’ voice and from receiving the life He promises?  After the stone was gone, Jesus cried out, “Lazarus, come forth!”  Jesus gave life to Lazarus’ body because He loved him (vs 4).  He loves you and offers to raise YOU from the death-grip of sin as well!
Then Jesus said, “Unbind him and let him go!” (vs 44)  Lazarus was alive again, but he was still bound head to feet with burial wrappings and couldn’t free himself!  We can also be bound by the grave clothes of our old life of sin.  We must allow others to get close enough to us to tear away at our sin wrappings!  We must decide to walk free of them in the new life Jesus provided!  Romans chapter 6 says we can walk in this “newness of life” as we “consider ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God!”  In other words, we must stop living like we’re dead and start living by faith like the new people we already are!
Finally, Lazarus was a testimony to others around him.  Lazarus was living proof that Jesus can turn sadness into joy, a funeral into a celebration, and a decaying life into a fruitful one!  When people see dead men walking, it gets their attention!  If you have asked Jesus to give you a new life, you are a walking miracle!  And God is in the process of making you a trophy of His wonderful grace, a demonstration of what He can do with a dead-end life!  Think about this:  You are also the most effective evangelism tool God has at His disposal!