Lazarus, Come Out!
John 11:38-45 Then Jesus, angry in Himself again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. (39) "Remove the stone," Jesus said. Martha, the dead man's sister, told Him, "Lord, he already stinks. It's been four days." (40) Jesus said to her, "Didn't I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" (41) So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You heard Me. (42) I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me." (43) After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" (44) The dead man came outbound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him and let him go." (45) Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what He did believed in Him.
The raising of Lazarus is the high point of the first part of John’s gospel and the Grand Miracle, the sign and the wonder that astonishes many and causes people to believe. As such John has been very careful and detailed in the telling. John is trying to teach us a lot about how God acts in 5 steps:
1. Remove The Stone - Take the obvious obstacle to the miracle out of the way!
4. Lazarus Come Out! - The command prayer, the use of spiritual authority.
5. Loose Him And Let Him Go - Removing the bandages, undoing bondages, release into new life
Three of these five steps are done by the bystanders (1,2 & 5) - and two by Jesus Himself (3 & 4). We can use this process, or something similar to it, in our own ministry, especially in exorcism. For instance:
This is also a clear case of God doing the “impossible” in raising someone who had been dead four days, and creating awe, wonder and faith. The whole point of raising Lazarus was to “give glory to God” – and it succeeded. Even today we read of the account and are stunned. As Lazarus walked out of that grave old legalistic Judaism began to crumble. The scribes and the Pharisees had nothing to match this, they were outgunned and the gospel was triumphant. Jesus’ teaching was clearly a better teaching and a vastly more powerful teaching.
The raising of Lazarus points to the possibility of resurrection, even after physical decay has set in “he stinketh”. There can be little left of people buried two hundred or more years ago in active soil, or in graves where water has seeped in, or at sea. And absolutely nothing left of those who have been cremated. How will God raise them? I think God has a complete record of our physical bodies and has the ability to “back-up and restore” at the resurrection. A clue to this is given in verses such as:
Matthew 10:30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Psalms 103:14 For He knows our form; He remembers that we are dust.
Psalms 139:13-16 For You have possessed my inward parts; You have covered me in my mother's womb. (14) I will praise You; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are marvelous and my soul knows it very well. (15) My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret and skillfully formed in the lowest parts of the earth. (16) Your eyes saw my embryo; and in Your book all my members were written, the days they were formed, and not one was among them.
“In your book all my members were written…” (Psalm 139:16) God knows every atom of our physical form and has it recorded in His “book”. So to be a “bit fanciful” and imaginative I envision the Almighty saying on Judgment Day: “Reformat infected and corrupted Universe, then replace with incorruptible version from back-up copy!”
God can “restore to normal” just as the leper’s flesh was restored to normal, or Lazarus’s decaying body was miraculously restored to a perfectly functioning form.
Matthew 12:13 Then He said to the man, Stretch out your hand. And he stretched it out, and it was restored whole like the other.
2 Kings 5:14 And he (Naaman the leper) went down and dipped seven times in Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God. And his flesh came again like the flesh of a little boy, and he was clean.
This also applies spiritually and psychologically – no matter how damaged you are, God can resurrect you, bless you, heal you and make you normal! Particularly I have seen Theophostic prayer ministry have incredible results in bringing damaged people back to normality. The love of Christ is more powerful than any inner wound, no matter how deep.
God restores! God resurrects! God makes whole! God delivers!