Living Like Lazarus

Let me see, the list of items that will make 2020 one of the most memorable years in history so far has been: a global pandemic, a toilet paper shortage, murder hornets, a coin shortage, world-wide violence, CHAZ/CHOP, zombie cicadas, racial conflict, Chinese mystery seeds, rioting, Beirut blowing up, looting, a coin shortage, a yeast shortage, a pepperoni shortage, green-treated lumber shortage, and a double hurricane. 

 

I don’t think that’s even all of them …wait…. I forgot the canning lid shortage. 

 

Well, take a number and stand in line, Mr. Canning Lid Shortage.

 

Seriously, all of the shortages we’ve experienced so far are first-world problems. People in less affluent countries are experiencing shortages of the basic necessities of life.

 

From what I can tell, most of my friends, relatives, and neighbors here in this country are weathering all the challenges of 2020 reasonably well. 

 

But underneath it all, there’s this tension. It’s a kind of “one more day, and we’ll be closer to this all being over.” 

 

It’s understandable. This is not normal. This is not something we have any experience “getting through.” I remember hearing stories from my Grandma  and other relatives about the Great Depression and World War II, and I know this is no where near as bad, but this is real.  This is happening in my life.

 

And, as a result, we’re not really being great witnesses for Jesus in all of this.

 

We’re not singing until the foundations of the prison are shaken and the chains fall off all the prisoners. (Acts 16) Now, granted, not everyone can be Paul and Silas, but we have a unique opportunity to come off as either the most joyful people on earth or the most certifiably insane. 

 

I’ll take either if it brings glory to Jesus.

 

And then Lazarus popped into my head –probably because of that song, “Rise Up” by Essential Worship which is currently playing on Kinship Christian radio.

 

You remember Lazarus. He was the brother of Martha and Mary. They lived in Bethany, just a couple of miles from Jerusalem. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He purposely delayed going to Bethany. When He did go, He knew that Lazarus was already dead.

 

When He arrived in Bethany, there was a lot of weeping. Jesus Himself wept. And then, he called Lazarus out of the grave.

 

Dead four days, everybody thought by now Lazarus was a stinking, rotten corpse. 

 

But Jesus called him out of that grave and he once again walked among the living. 

 

And, in point of fact, it was the resurrection of Lazarus that was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Pharisees. How could they refute a Messiah who raised people from the dead when Lazarus was right there, walking among the living? (John 12:10)

 

If you remember, when Jesus crossed the Mount of Olives and entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, a great crowd came out from Jerusalem to meet him because they had heard of the resurrection of Lazarus. And, there was a great crowd of people from Bethany with Him –and among them was Lazarus. The whole thing erupted in praise and shouts of “HOSANNA!” and palm branches being thrown on the ground when the two crowds met on the Mount of Olives. (And I tend to believe that spot is the exact spot mentioned in Zechariah 14:4) 

 

“Many in the crowd had seen Jesus call Lazarus from the tomb, raising him from the dead, and they were telling others about it. That was the reason so many went out to meet him—because they had heard about this miraculous sign. Then the Pharisees said to each other, “There’s nothing we can do. Look, everyone has gone after him!” John 12: 17-19 (NLT)

 

Amid all the noise and shouts of praise, the Pharisees were absolutely livid at this display. They strictly urged Jesus to silence His followers, but “He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” Luke 19:40 (ESV)

 

And all this brings me back to Lazarus. 

 

What kind of attitude do you suppose Lazarus had for the rest of his life?

 

“Hey, aren’t you that guy Jesus raised from the dead?”

“Yes, I am Lazarus.”

“Were you really dead?”

“Yes! I was dead but now I’m alive!”

“What was that like?”

“Are you kidding? I’m ALIVE!! I was dead, but NOW I AM ALIVE!”

 

Do you think Lazarus had an effective witness story?

 

Do you think Lazarus maybe lived a life of joy and gratitude and praise for the rest of his life?

 

The Pharisees had planned to kill him too, (John 12:10&11) because how could anyone dispute the testimony of guy who had been dead for four days and now stood before you alive as anyone else? 

 

No, Lazarus was someone who could not simply be dismissed by some “logical” explanation or just be called a liar. A whole village was ready and willing to verify his testimony.

 

But here’s the deal: Each of us who are saved by faith in Jesus Christ are a Lazarus in and of ourselves. We were all dead in our sins and we have ALL been raised to life by Jesus Himself! We are all restored to life!

 

Each and every one of us has exactly the same testimony. Jesus gave us life. Jesus called each of us out of the grave, told us to take off our grave clothes and directed us to walk among the living proclaiming His praises! 

 

So, be it murder hornets, a global pandemic, or a shortage of canning jar lids, we’re all alive and we will live with the King of kings and Lord of lords in His heaven forever and ever. We’ll all experience physical death on this planet someday, but just like Jesus, the grave will not hold us, death will not conquer us. 

 

We have reason to rejoice like crazy people. We have reason to rejoice even in the midst of all that is happening all around us, no matter what 2020 might throw at us. 

 

HALLELUJAH! 

 

It’s time to live like Lazarus.

 

(The Eastern Orthodox churches teach that Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha escaped Judea and traveled to Cyprus where Lazarus became the first bishop of Kition and died of natural causes in 63 AD – 30 years after he was resurrected.)

 

Today’s Praise

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)

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