Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” …
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” …
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
- John 11:1-3, 11:38-44, 12:9-11
“Wow! Because of Lazarus, many Jews were ‘believing in Jesus.’ Lazarus has been given a trumpet. He has a testimony to give – and what a testimony he has!
“’I was always a good fellow,’ he would say. ‘I paid my bills. I loved my sisters. I even enjoyed being around Jesus. But I wasn’t one of the followers. I didn’t get as close as Peter and James and those guys. I kept my distance. Nothing personal. I just didn’t want to get carried away.’
“’But then I got sick. And then I died. I mean, I died dead. Nothing left. Stone-cold. No life. No breath. Nothing. I died to everything. I saw life from the tomb. And then Jesus called me from the grave. When He spoke, my heart beat and my soul stirred, and I was alive again. And I want you to know He can do the same for you.’
“If God has called you to be a Lazarus, then testify. Remind the rest of us that we, too, have a story to tell. We, too, have neighbors who are lost. We, too, have died and been resurrected.”
- Max Lucado, The Greatest Moments
I have mentioned the story of Lazarus recently, but in reading this quote from Max Lucado, the story bears repeating.
Lucado takes the story a step further than Lazarus simply dying and being resurrected. The story does not end in John 11. People wanted to hear the story of Lazarus, and Lazarus was willing to tell it.
Did Lazarus tell it as Lucado suggests? In part, maybe. John 11 starts off with the sisters sending Jesus a message that the one He loves is sick. If Lazarus was just a simple hanger-on who occasionally listened to Jesus from the sidelines, it is doubtful that they would express their message in such a way. Yet, all of us are loved by Jesus, individually. This one message may be the inspiration that the Thoenes used in their book, When Jesus Wept, to paint a picture that Jesus and Lazarus spent time together, simply talking. The Bible mentions that Jesus had a lot of followers, but only twelve in His inner circle.
Then Lucado asks if we are each another Lazarus? Do we have a story to tell?
Let’s look at the word “testimony.” Vocabulary.com gives the definition as “When you give testimony you are telling what you saw or what you know.”
If you have met Jesus, you have a testimony. If you have not met Jesus, you do not have a testimony in that regard. But is the corollary true? If you do not have a testimony, have you not met Jesus?
There are so many who vehemently deny having a testimony, yet they claim to know Jesus. Do they have the head knowledge (intellectual) that Jesus exists, but they do not have the heart knowledge (spiritual) that only comes from a surrender to Him? I know that when I surrendered my will to His, my eyes were opened to understanding that I had never seen before. I had read the Bible many, many times before, but not with understanding. People can read the commentaries of great theologians and famous preachers and sound like they have understanding, but do they?
Or are they just unwilling to give their testimony. Can they love their neighbor and remain mute?
These are unanswerable questions for the bystander. God knows the answers and if the people who are like this are honest, they also know. For those who have a testimony, they need to share it.
My Indonesian friend who had us in his home once a month for a first-century style worship service told his testimony at every meeting – twelve times per year for many years. And he opened his home to Indonesian exchange students and others each month. He was a ‘Lazarus.’
I know from personal experience as a ‘Lazarus,’ I have this overwhelming desire to share the Gospel with others. Does God grant that to just a few? Then why intend the Great Commission for all? We should all have that burning desire to share our testimony. For those of us who have God’s Love within us, it grows so that it cannot be contained. It must overflow and spill out to those around us.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.