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 11:43-44)
Lazarus had died. He had been buried four days, embalmed and laid in the family grave.
But now at the command of Jesus He stands at the door of the same tomb, fully alive. Everything around and behind him is death. He till wears the same rotting clothes he was buried in, and stands partially in the shadows of the tomb. The shelves of the crypt contain the bones of his departed, and the carved niche on which he had been laid our for embalming still reeked of death, soaked with the embalming paste and the tears of utter sorrow.
But as He stands in the door of the tomb, Lazarus sees before him the bright sunlit land of the living. He smells the fresh grass, and the aroma of sweet flowering fruit trees. He hears the birds and a short distance away stand the living, His friends and acquaintances who had gathered to mourn his passing. He looks directly into the eyes of Jesus, the one who had called him out of the shadows and back into life.
Isn’t this a picture of our position dear Christians? We were dead in our trespasses and sins and lived in death. All around us was the stench of death and decay; the litter and refuse of years of pride, lust, selfishness, covetousness, hate and depression. We loved the world and were estranged from God and all tat is good,true and beautiful.
But One day Jesus called our name! I had been given a Bible at the age of eighteen, and began to read the Sermon on the Mount.I found it beautiful until I came to Jesus’ exposition of the Law. He told me that the Law is spiritual and external conformity isn’t adequate, in other words, not committing adultery isn’t enough, lust in the heart is damning!
When He showed me my inner condition I came under great conviction. I knew I was lost and doomed, but didn’t know how to wipe away the stain of my sin. (I answered about thirty altar calls to try to shake the guilt…but I had no faith). One day in despair, reading a new testament but distracted, thinking that salvation was available for the good people at the church, but not for me, weeping and reading the same sentence over and over again, but so distracted I couldn’t have told you what I was reading, suddenly I heard the voice of the Holy Spirit.
A thought came to me crystal clear, penetrating the fog of my despair,I heard, “LOOK AT WAT YOU ARE READING AND UNDERSTAND IT!”. I looked at the verse I had been reading, 2 Corinthians 5:21,
“For He hath made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us that we might be the righteousness of God in Christ”.
Suddenly I understood the gospel which had eluded me…Jesus took my place in judgment, as a substitution for my sin.
I came alive to God, I was born again, yea, born from above!
But like Lazarus I stand in the door of the tomb. Behind me, and somewhat around me are the trappings of death, the dust of decay and sin, the aroma of futility, my past sins, my past life.
This world itself has been revealed to me, as being a tomb. Behind its glitter and glamorous veneer is a world which hates God and opposes Christ at every point. I see death around me because we are living at the end of the Age of death. Look at the violence, the destruction of the souls of children, the profanation of everything holy,such as marriage! We are at the end of the Age of decay.
But as Lazarus looked out of the tomb, so I look at the prospect before me; eternal life, the Kingdom of God, the heavenly Assembly, being able to look at the face of Jesus, and having God wipe away every tear from our eyes!(Who do you ever allow to even touch your face? Yet God shall wipe away our tears).
Be of Good cheer brothers and sisters, for the “Sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed”.
MAra Natha! Come Lord Jesus!