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This is a story that is true to life.

It could be about You!

LIFE has a way of making its mark on all of us.

I have many fond memories of childhood days, family outings, school days whenI started work and my first date. I vividly remember the day Jesus came into my life and that was September 1st, 1968 at 7:30pm.
I also have memories of events that I would prefer to forget.
All of those things made their mark on my life and I am sure you could say the same.

We can be scarred and shaped by numerous things that shape our lives and unless God intervenes, we can take them to the grave with us, or still be bowed down with them until He returns and beckons us home.
I have great news for you! You do not have to remain that way!

The bible tells many stories, some of which are allegories, or parables that use common events or things to illustrate deep spiritual significance. On other occasions, the story is real and true to life. This is one.
It is found in the Gospel of John 11:1-6 which opens like this-

Now a certain man...

Many people have a poor self image. They have low self esteem and that is not a good thing.

Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-2 to have honest appraisals of ourselves and not to have an exaggerated opinion of ourselves, but it is equally as true to avoid having too poor an opinion of yourself. The attitude of not feeling important and insignificant is wrong.

It does God an injustice because He thinks very highly of you. After all, He sent Jesus to die for you, so you are important to Him.

John’s opening simply says that there was a certain man.

You are not a nobody!

You are a somebody.

You are someone special to God and you need to understand that. When Jesus said that the very hairs on your head are numbered, He was not referring to a running count of how many numerically. If one falls out, it is easy to simply update the count, but that could be very impersonal. Instead… God knows which one fell. Think of that. If you are not sure about this, look further.

In the last weeks of His life, Jesus made a circuitous journey from Betharaba to Bethany, to Ephraim, into the region around Jordan, to Jericho and again to Bethany.
He had previously been in Jerusalem where He stated that He is the Door through which we can enter and be saved. He said that the sheep hear the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him because they know his voice. We can know His voice my friend. It is a soft and gentle voice, yet can sound like crashing thunder and when He speaks, all of creation obeys Him, demons tremble and the saints rejoice. Jesus clearly said that He is the Good Shepherd who gave His life for the sheep and that He laid it down and took it up again.

 

If you do not yet know Him and His voice, you can. He is the only way to God and there is no salvation found anywhere else (see Acts 4:12).

When He said that His sheep both hear and know His voice and that He gives them eternal life and more, the religious people tried to kill Him. Man-made religion cannot produce life and cannot produce the works that Jesus did, so it tries to kill, manipulate or stifle the truth.

Jesus then went into the region where John baptized Him at the commencement of His ministry and it at this point where our story really starts. John stated-

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. John 11:1 

Notice that the word man and the word named is italicized in the KJV. When such words are in italics like that, it usually means that they do not exist in the original language and were added in for some reason. It should therefore read

Now a certain... 

I will repeat what I stated before. You are not a nobody! You are not an unknown person.

You are a Certain person. You are a Special person and God knows everything about you.
There is no one else on earth just like you. Your fingerprints are unique. No one has your DNA. No one has your voice print or eye print, yet God knows you as a unique individual.

Jesus told us in Matthew 10:30 and Luke 12:7 that the hairs on our head are numbered and that we are of great value to God. Stop and think what this means! It is much more than merely counting how many! Jesus said that all hairs are numbered, which means that God knows which one fell out, not how many you have left!

For some men, counting them is easy. My father’s hairline receded and he said that he was getting smarter as he grew older. He said that his brain was getting bigger and was pushing his hair out! even if that were true, God still knew about his hairline.

In case you are not totally convinced, please read on. John said-

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus...

He knows your name, where you live, what needs you have and what things you hope for in life. Now just in case there was more than one Lazarus, God made sure we got the right person and He knew that he was sick. He said-

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany.

We see here that God is singling out one particular person. It was that Lazarus who lived in Bethany, but suppose that there were two men named Lazarus who lived in Bethany.

God went to great detail to tell us how much He cares for you, not to the world at large, but to you—a unique individual whose hairs are counted and who is of more value that a flock of sparrows. I can say this again because John continued.

 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
(It was
that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) John 11:1-2 (emphasis mine). 

God has a master plan for your life. It is an intricately detailed blueprint that covers everything in microscopic detail and what never ceases to amaze me is that He goes to great lengths to ensure that you know it. He has shown us this in our story. It is not any Lazarus, but that Lazarus who lived in Bethany, who had a sister called Martha.

Just in case you do not see it yet, Jesus added that it was that Lazarus who lived in Bethany who had a sister called Martha and it was that Lazarus who lived in Bethany who had a sister called Martha and a sister called Mary. If you still need more convincing, Jesus explained that it was that sister called Mary who anointed Him with oil.

You are indeed someone special—so special that God knows how many times you blink, how often you swallow and more. 

With this in mind, we can be assured that God has a plan for us and thinks of us. He said-

I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

It is often said that we never know what God is going to do, but that is totally incorrect. People often say things like, “Well... you never know...” and misquote scripture, but we do know!

as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

Paul was comparing the natural mind with the mind of the Spirit. He stated that if the enemy really knew things, he would never have orchestrated the crucifixion of Jesus. He played right into God’s hands! The wisdom of God that is indeed hidden was done so for our sakes! See 1 Corinthians 2:6. God is not hiding things from us—He is hiding things for us! There is a wonderful little word called but immediately after verse 9. 

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.
For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16. Emphasis mine. 

We have the mind of Christ! Whatever was hidden before can be revealed in God’s word, but we have to search for it. Our part is to dig in God’s word in the way a miner digs for treasure and we have help along the way.

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
Proverbs 25:2

Jesus told us that He no longer calls us servants but His friends.

No longer do I give you the name of servants; because a servant is without knowledge of what his master is doing: I give you the name of friends, because I have given you knowledge of all the things which my Father has said to me. John 15:15

Friends share things with each other. If Jesus is our friend, He has clearly promised to give us knowledge of all things as befits the plan and purpose for our lives. Whilst there may be a degree of truth in thinking God has secrets, is is equally true that He desires to reveal them to us.

This is so that we can know His mind and will for our lives. Amos 3:7 reveals one way He does this-

Certainly the Lord will do nothing without making clear his secret to his servants, the prophets. Amos 3:7. 


I had intended to add another verse that came to mind and looked at it to see something extraordinary. I had never seen it like this before. It is found in Isaiah 45:13.

I will give you hidden treasures, riches stashed away in secret places, so you may recognize that I am the LORD, the one who calls you by name, the God of Israel

Notice that God said He would give us  hidden treasures. We have a saying that if you do not know certain things, we are in the dark about them. Things are hidden in the dark. They are there but unless you have night vision, you cannot see them.

God said that He will reveal those things to us!


He is not hiding them from us. The devil does that. God is hiding them for us!

The various verses of that passage are amazing. The reference to treasures speaks about a depository of literal treasures and provision in a storehouse, an armory and so on.

Hidden riches are just that—buried treasures that are waiting to be dug up or removed from a vault.

The reference to secret places describes the actions of someone who is covertly concealing things.
The reference to darkness is the same word used in Genesis 1:2 that says darkness was upon the face of the deep. That word is not the mere absence of light, but something intrinsically evil. It is
ḥōshek. That word describes misery, destruction, death, sorrow, wickedness, obscurity and  ignorance.


God is not like that! He wants us to know!

If you read more of Isaiah’s prophecy, you will see that He states why God gives us these things. It is that we can know Him!

Please do not insult Him and treat the Blood of Jesus with dishonor by saying that God hides things from us. No! He hides them for us!

God is very interested in YOU

God is so very interested in you as a unique person, that He knows you inside out and is putting things into place for you, because of His thoughts that will take you into eternity.


You might not see every detail yet at present, but you will be able to see everything unfold as more pieces of the puzzle fit into place.

John has vividly revealed the intricate and meticulous planning of God by describing this certain person. It could be you!

He has shown you that God singles out one person whom He loves! Yes, God loves You! Sure He loves everyone, but God loves YOU.

God is so very interested in you as a unique person, that He knows you inside out and is putting things into place for you, because of His thoughts that will take you into eternity.
You might not see every detail yet at present, but you will be able to see everything unfold as more pieces of the puzzle fit into place.

 

John has vividly revealed the intricate and meticulous planning of God by describing this certain person. It could be you!

He has shown you that God singles out one person whom He loves! Yes, God loves You! Sure He loves everyone, but God loves you

There was only one problem in our story. Lazarus was sick. We are not told what ailment he had, but it proved to be a terminal illness. Now if God knows how many hairs are on your head, He also knows what is affecting you.

Please, oh please, never say that God has sent a sickness to teach you a lesson, or keeping you poor to keep you humble. Humility has nothing to do with money! It is a deliberate act on our part to humble ourselves before God.

As for sickness, no one really learns a thing when they are sick in bed. The only thing one could learn is to avoid exposure to what caused the problem.

The Holy Spirit is our teacher! It’s in red text in my bible! The word of God is our teacher.

God does not need the devil’s help to teach us. Sickness is part of the curse thank you and Jesus delivered us from that. If He did not then Isaiah 53:4-5 and 1 Peter 2:24 are lies!

Sickness comes. That is fact—but it is not truth. The matter of sickness and suffering has been fiercely debated, but the truth is seen in God’s word. They are part of the curse from which Jesus set us free and those wounds savagely inflicted on Him by the Roman scourging were made to provide total healing to those who embrace it.

When sickness hits my body, I fight it and refuse to accept it. I talk to the symptoms and tell them that they have no right to afflict me because of what Jesus did.

Jesus loved Lazarus but he was sick and Jesus knew it! His sisters also loved Lazarus also and sent a message to Him.

What would you have said to Him? Most of us would probably ask Him to hurry back. It was urgent and they wanted their brother to recover, so what their messenger had to say would probably have reflected it.

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. John 11:3


In the original language, this was a generic illness coming from the word astheneō.
Think of influenza, or something that may not have been really life threatening. 

They sent someone to Jesus to tell Him that. That word sent, is apostellō. You may see that this looks like the word Apostle. It basically means to send someone out on a mission.

If you have been sent on an assignment by the Lord, you too are a sent one.

Sadly there are sent ones and went ones in the church and by that I mean that some people are in ministry when they should not be there and vice-versa. Ministry is not a vocation! It is a high calling. I know one man who said that he had failed in business, so he decided to enter the ministry. 

No one takes on the role of a prophet or an apostle by himself and no man or organization does that—Jesus does! We are to recognize and acknowledge that calling.

If you recall,  Jesus had been in Jerusalem where He had ministered in His usual style that was gladly received by those who were hungry for truth and rejected by the religious folk, some of whom reacted angrily and some of whom wanted to kill Him.
This seems to be a human trait.

 

I was raised in the Church of England; christened there, confirmed there, took communion there, became the Priest’s Protégé, a member of the Parochial council and a member of Synod.

I was a leader in the Catholic charismatic renewal of the ’70’s and in other spheres of activity and have seen at first hand how this still happens today.
 

Sometimes the anointing on a person disturbs others. Think of it.
 

If you touch someone’s sacred cow, you will soon see if what I say is true or not. Jesus touched many a sacred cow and they wanted to kill Him for it and for His anointing. This is recorded in John 10:39.

Jesus then went to Jordan where He had been baptised where the messenger found Him.

Calvary was now close. Something had changed in His ministry. He was starting to focus on one thing, that as Luke said, was Jerusalem.

Now when the time was almost come for Jesus to be received up [to heaven], He steadfastly and determinedly set His face to go to Jerusalem. Luke 9:51.

There is something about this account that needs investigation and it has to do with the time factor. Bethany was about 2 miles from Jerusalem.

Herb Elliot, the olympic runner set a new record when he ran one mile in under four minutes. He would have taken eight minutes for that journey.

Jesus had most likely stopped the night with Lazarus before continuing onto what may likely be Aenon that was near Salem (see John 3:23). The actual place is uncertain but it may have been around 50Km (30 Miles).

We do not know how long that messenger would have taken to reach Jesus, but I suspect it took one day.

His message could have sounded very urgent. “Jesus. Lazarus is sick. Please come straight away. We need you.”

Have you felt that your need is urgent? When you call out for help, have you ever wondered if God would answer you or even hear you?

Let me tell you that God has already heard your prayer before you utter one word!

I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers! Isaiah 65:24. 

I urge you to read all that chapter. Remember however that you have to be in covenant relationship with God for such a privilege.

When the messenger arrived,  Jesus did not immediately stop doing what He was doing. I imagine that He thanked the man, told him to rest and refresh himself and He too relaxed. Sometimes we expect God to immediately drop everything and run to our cause. He is not our servant. We serve Him (although we are no longer servants in that sense).

There is a rest in God, regardless of circumstances. If we enter into His rest, we too can relax in the middle of a storm.

He knows all about your problem. If he knows you so intimately as my opening comments indicate, God already knows what is happening and what the outcome will be like. Jesus did!

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.  John 11:4.

In the KJV, the word that is italicized, suggesting that it was not in the original so we should read it as-

When Jesus heard... 


What did He hear? What report do you hear? Who do you believe? Is it God’s word or is it something else? There are all kinds of voices out there, all with different messages. Be selective in your hearing. 

Lazarus’ sisters sent a message to Jesus that must have been full of urgency, but Jesus heard the Father’s voice saying that he would die, but everything would be turned around so that God would receive glory.

We’ve got to learn the difference between knee jerk reaction and faith declarations based on what the Father says to us. Jesus replied-

...This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by) it. John 11:4.

God receives no glory from sickness and death—none! The only ones who benefit are doctors, drug companies and undertakers. We do not have to get sick to die—we go home!

Lazarus at the beginning was suffering from a generic illness. The word used up to this point is astheneō, that covers a wide range of ailments like a common cold, but when Jesus spoke about it, a different word was used. That was asthenia.

This kind of sickness is a malady. I am convinced that it was a terminal disease. Something changed and changed quickly. How? Why? God did not put that thing on Lazarus—the devil did that! He is the thief. He is the killer, He comes to steal and he came to steal and destroy Lazarus and his sisters and all of their association with Jesus. His condition deteriorated and Jesus knew it. I suspect that he died when the messenger departed to find Jesus.

The matter was urgent, but He stayed put for two days. Why?

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.  John 11:6

There is an important lesson to learn from this simple account that John went to great lengths to describe. The Greek word for abode is menō that gives the idea of staying cool, calm and collected. There are many meanings, but the focal point is that Jesus never allowed anything to rattle His cage.

He stayed in a state of expectancy because of His relationship with the Father, knowing that everything was under control. John later said that He abode  in the same place where He was.

That same place is a geographical location. The Greek word is topos. If you have heard of topographical survey maps, you will see a similarity. Jesus therefore stayed put in a physical location in a perfect state of peace of mind. We too say say what He must have said-

I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice. My body rests in safety. Psalm 16:7-9. 

John also stated that Jesus deliberately stayed there for two days. The number two speaks about separation and difference, so we must ask, “What is the significance?”

At this stage in His life,  Jesus had changed His whole approach to His mission. Something had changed. He had in essence started to look towards Calvary and He started to mention this more and more in His ministry.
I also think that He took two days to ensure that by the time He arrived at Bethany, Lazarus would have been dead for four days, allowing for one day’s travel by the messenger and one day’s travel Himself. More on that later...

When He told the disciples that He intended going back to Judea, they questioned Him because of the threats to His life. He told them that He intended waking Lazarus from his sleep, referring to his death. On His arrival, Lazarus had been in the grave for four days.

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. John 11:17.

Numbers in scripture 1 2 3 4 12

4 Days

We have seen that  Jesus deliberately stayed where He had been when the message came for two days. 

At this stage in His life,  Jesus had changed His whole approach to His mission. Something had changed. He had in essence started to look towards Calvary and He started to mention this more and more in His ministry.
I also think that He took two days to ensure that by the time He arrived at Bethany, Lazarus would have been dead for four days, allowing for one day’s travel by the messenger and one day’s travel Himself. More on that later...

When He told the disciples that He intended going back to Judea, they questioned Him because of the threats to His life. He told them that He intended waking Lazarus from his sleep, referring to his death. On His arrival, Lazarus had been in the grave for four days.

Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. John 11:17. 

It would seem that the messenger took one day to reach Jesus, who waited 2 days, then there was a day’s return journey, totaling 4 days.

I am of the opinion that Jesus', delay was both prophetic and practical.

In some Jewish circles, there was a belief that when someone died, their spirit remained close to the body for four days, hoping to be permitted to re-enter. If this had not occurred, that person was truly legally dead.

Perhaps Jesus did this to ensure that there could be no doubt that Lazarus was dead and in the tomb. There could be no doubt whatsoever that the man was dead and that Jesus, who later stated that He was the resurrection and the life did in fact bring Lazarus back from the dead.


Perhaps this also indicated that He too, would also die and be raised from the dead.

Martha Mary Jesus groaned Remove the stone Sent ones

Lazarus come forth

You might have heard others preach on this as I have. It is a very well known story and most times I know of, most preachers have said that Jesus called Lazarus by name because if He had simply commanded “come forth”, everyone in that cemetery would have been raised.

I do not doubt that Jesus could have done that, because that happened later and will happen when the rapture occurs, but look at it another way.


John had gone to great lengths at the beginning of the chapter to reveal the close intimacy of relationship Lazarus had enjoyed with Jesus.


Jesus had come for one man only! It was someone who had a close relationship. He called that one person for that reason. He knew that man!

He knows me. Does He know you and do you really know Him? 

Jesus will return. That is absolutely certain, but salvation is not universal for the brotherhood of man. It related to the ones who have made Him Lord and He will come for those people and no one else! God is looking for the personally applied blood in the same manner He did on the first Passover night. Believe in all you want. If the blood is not there... 

I want you to now come into that tomb for a moment. Put yourself in the place where Lazarus had been laid. He had died four days ago.

In order to do so, we need to look briefly at the manners and customs of the day concerning burial.

There were two elements involved with Hebrew burials. One was the ritual aspect, as we would expect in a modern funeral service. The other related to the literal physical preparation of the body and its final resting place.


A common belief was that a dead body was ceremonially impure.

Interment normally took place within twenty-four hours. A body would start to decompose rapidly in the warm climate and was to be buried to safeguard the corpse from being destroyed by wild creatures. In such cases, as seen in 1 Kings 14:10-14 and 2 Kings 9:34-37, it was regarded as a great dishonour. In 2 Samuel 21:10-14, anyone finding a dead body by a roadside was required to bury it. 

Preparation for burial took on various forms and the Hebrew mortuary rituals are not fully described in the bible. There is a variety of processes found in a range of scriptural passages. 

The closest relative present, usually the oldest son, would close the eyes of the deceased (see Genesis 46:4) as death was and is still regarded as being asleep. 

The mouth was bound shut, the body was washed and anointed with aromatic ointments. After that, the body was wrapped in linen or fine garments, depending on the status of the deceased. Depending on how rich or influential the deceased was, precious jewellery, furniture, weapons, trinkets, pottery and fine clothing were buried beside the dead person.

Hebrews rarely practiced cremation and embalming. Exceptions occurred with people like Jacob and Joseph, because they died in Egypt and were mummified according to Egyptian practice. Joseph was buried in a coffin (see Genesis 50:2-3, 26).

After preparations of the body were complete, the procession to the grave or tomb began with the corpse being carried on a wooden bier, usually by friends, servants, or relatives.

Professional mourners often led the procession, followed by family members and the air was often filled with cries of sadness and agony.

The choice of burial sites varied, depending on the social and financial status of the deceased. 

The most common type of burial was in a simple shaft or trench grave.

Caves were frequently used for burials either for their convenience or because time or money did not permit the cutting of a tomb from rock.

Rock-cut tombs are the best documented burial sites known today and they display a wide variety of forms. Some were designed for a single interment, but most were designed for multiple burials of family members.

Such tombs were sealed with slabs of stone or, by rolling stones across the entrance.

Lazarus had been prepared for burial in the manner just described.

His eyes would have been closed and his mouth bound shut. His head was wrapped in the bandage or napkin. His body would have been washed and anointed and then wound in the grave clothes. His arms would have been placed at his sides or folded on his chest before his whole body firmly wrapped.

Even if alive, no one could possibly see anything, talk or move. I asked you to use your imagination and picture yourself in such a position inside that cold, dark, dank and smelly tomb.

Suddenly, the stone was removed and light pierced the darkness, but you could not see it.

A commanding voice suddenly penetrated and echoed around inside the cave, commanding you to come out!

How? You can’t move a muscle. You can’t take one step and you can’t see a thing to know where to go anyhow.  All that your senses perceived was the word of Jesus, commanding you to come forth.

What you imagined might have been what happened to Lazarus.

Prepared in such a manner, his body was in a well-advanced state of decay. The blood was congealed. The heart had stopped pumping. Lungs were collapsed. The brain cells had been destroyed. All electrical impulses throughout his body had ceased sending messages. He couldn’t even open his eyes as the muscles had atrophied. The faith command that came emanated from the one by whom and for whom all things were created. He had issued it and a rotting, decaying body that had bits falling off it, came together as good as new.

Look at one of Paul’s prayers for us. The partial selection explains what I mean-

...Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For
by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: Colossians 1:12-22 (emphasis mine).

That was stage one. He had to next move towards Jesus.

All that he could do was to go to the word

Think of that for a moment. Perhaps you can see why I major so much on the word of God. It is creative. It does what God said it would do and it has never changed.

When the faith command came almost 4000 years before that, all of creation came into existence. The word said, “Light be” and light was. The word said, “Man be” and man was created. Everything that you can see and feel now came by the spoken word of God and that rotting corpse had to respond and it did!

Try as I can, I cannot see any other way for this now living being to come out of the cave was to shuffle, but in which direction could it go? It shuffled towards the sound that gave it life and emerged from the cold, smelly darkness into the light and everyone there saw it!

Jesus had issued the command and the miracle happened but it was not over yet. 

He told the people there and I suppose it would have been Martha and Mary who did it, “Let the man go!”

He was not going to do that—they had to!

Look again at this incident.

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me
.
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. John 11:40-44.

Jesus came with a pre-planned purpose. After raising Lazarus from the dead, Calvary lay ahead. Passover was close, perhaps six days away. He returned to Bethany where, at that supper, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with that precious ointment.

The following day, He went to Jerusalem, entering on the ass whilst people waved palm branches as He entered. The rest, as they say, is history.

Jesus was about to loose us from sin. He was about to destroy the works of the devil.

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8. 

Look at the word destroy. In the Greek it is lyō. There is a range of meanings like break, loose, melt and destroy. One word is dissolve. That is powerful. Think of rust in a car.

The steel is eaten away by the corrosion until there is nothing left. Once the process is complete, the is no evidence that the steel ever existed. Jesus came to totally eradicate the power of sin over us. It’s gone! What we do afterward is the sins we commit, but He made provision for this also.

The following passages will show you some of  the wonderful things God did for us.

Galatians 1:4-5; Ephesians 1:3-14; Colossians chapter one.

And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power...
Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. 
Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
(Touch not; taste not; handle not;
Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.  Colossians 2:10-23 See also Hebrews 9:28, 10 1-17; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 John 3:5.

The scriptures are very clear on the matter of sin, its penalty and judgment and what Jesus did for us. I have shared a few of the many verses that reveal what really happened and urge you to start conducting your own research into where you truly stand before God.

I want to draw a parallel with Lazarus and both you and me in the following table.


Jesus brought life back to Lazarus, he was dead (both physically and spiritually).

Before you and I were saved, we were dead in our trespasses and sins.
AND YOU [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins
In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God].
Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God's] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind.
But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us,
Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ;
[He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation).
And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One).
He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.
For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God;
Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself.]
For we are God's [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].  Ephesians 2:1-10

Lazarus was bound hand and foot.

Without truth and knowledge of God, we are captives taken captive by the devil at his will (see 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 4:3;
2 Timothy 2:26). It can be just as effective a bondage as being bound with chains.

Lazarus was brought back to life, but needed somone to loose him.

When we are saved, or given life, we have embarked on a totally new life. The bible describes us as newborn babies who need care, need protection, need to be fed and nourished and s on. We need assistance in renewing our minds, rid ourselves of habits and overcome problems etc. We do these things by the wshing of wter by the word of God. See 1 Peter 2:2; Deuteronomy 8:3; 2 Timothy 2:15; Hebrews 5:14, 6:1-2

After loosing him, Lazarus was to be let go.

There are two words in the Greek to consider.

The first is aphiēmi. It refers to forsaking something, forgiveness, laying something aside, remittance and the like.

The second word is hypagō that means to retire, depart, to lead yourself and to go onward.


When we are born again we become new creatures. Old things have passed away and all things take on a new freshness.
This is how an ugly grub is transformed into a beautiful butterfly. In other words, let go of the past. Change your old way of thinking and so on. Another aspect is forgiving others. Jesus said when we pray, we aught to expect the answers, but He also added... forgive.

I also think that this could relate in some way to being sent forth. We are not in it for what we get out of it, but follow Jesus and share what He has done for us. The blessings come as part of the package deal.

If you continue reading on, you will see that many of those Jews believed.

Lazarus had a testimony. Anyone can argue and debate theology, but when the matter actually happens to you, that cannot be denied.

There is much more to share of course, but I must bring this to a close.  Permit me to get personal. You fall into one of two categories.

 

The first group of people are already Christians, but plagued with problems of insecurity, low self esteem, unsure of their destiny, or struggling with issues that are holding them back.

I am doing what Jesus told those people to do with Lazarus.
I am telling you to be loosed and be set free. I am saying that you are someone special and that God has a plan and purpose for you. Find it! Spend quality time alone with Him. Start to dig deep into His word. Talk to Him as you would talk to your best friend. Cultivate a love affair with Him.

If you do such things, your life will radically change. The things that hold you back will drop off in the way that Lazarus’ chains and fetters dropped off as you turn to the Lord and get out of that cave.

If you are in the other group of people who know about God but do not know him, change your status right now.
You could go to a church, but still not know God. You could do all of the things that on the surface will grant favour with God, not knowing that the only way this can be done is to accept Jesus. When you do that, all the things that bind you in any way will be dissolved like that rust I talked about earlier.

Do you know Jesus?

This is how you can know Him

Pray like this...

God in Heaven, I know that I have not measured up, but I also know now that I need what you offer me—the free gift of eternal life through Your Son Jesus.

I ask you to forgive me for not believing and for all that I have done to offend you.

According to Romans 10: 9-13

If I confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, I will be saved.
For it is by believing in my heart that I am made right with God, and it is by confessing with my mouth that I are saved.
As the Scriptures tell us, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.”
Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him.
For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”.

On that basis, I ask you to save me, I receive Jesus into my life. I confess Jesus as my Lord and thank you now for receiving me.

I am now your child.
Amen.


Additional references

We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Yet God, with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.
For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. Romans 3:22-25

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: Romans 5:12

When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the obligation to do right.
And what was the result? You are now ashamed of the things you used to do, things that end in eternal doom.
But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
“There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.
All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:16-22.

I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus.
I am writing to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I am writing to you who are young in the faith because you have won your battle with the evil one.
I have written to you who are God’s children because you know the Father. I have written to you who are mature in the faith because you know Christ, who existed from the beginning. I have written to you who are young in the faith because you are strong. God’s word lives in your hearts, and you have won your battle with the evil one. 1 John 2:12-14 .

See what great love the Father has given us in naming us the children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not see who we are, because it did not see who he was.
My loved ones, now we are children of God, and at present it is not clear what we are to be. We are certain that at his revelation we will be like him; for we will see him as he is.
And everyone who has this hope in him makes himself holy, even as he is holy. 1 John 3:1-3.

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