The story of Lazarus is for both the saved and the unsaved. There is a stone obstructing the way of every man, both saved and unsaved, from coming to God as He would have us do. The end result for the unsaved is an eternity separated from God in the doom of Hell, while the fate of the saved is an eternal loss of rewards gambled against a season of pleasures upon this Earth. Please take the time to read through this lengthy devotional to see you to receive the life that you seek, whether you are saved or unsaved.
“Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 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. 42 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. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 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. 45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.”
In this devotion, I want to focus on the stone that’s keeping us as believers from being alive in our service for Jesus Christ. This is not formally outlined, but I put together several rhyming points for simplicity and maybe you can formulate it into an outline. I want to walk through each verse and develop the context so we can answer the question as to what stone we need to remove so we can fully serve Jesus Christ on this Earth He has left us upon.
Jesus grieves in the depth of His spirit, but we cannot assume His grief is over Lazarus until we see the context. The word “therefore” in verse 38 is a key word to finding the context of a passage of scripture. Basic Bible interpretation for therefore implores us to ask “what is the ‘therefore’ there for.” This forces us to read the previous verses and possibly chapters into the context.
Looking back to verse 33 we find Mary, the Jews and Jesus all weeping. Understanding their weeping is see in the definition of the words. For Mary and the Jews, “weeping” means “mourn as those do for the dead.” However, when “Jesus wept,” His was by definition simply “shed tears.” There is a significance here lays the context of Jesus’ weeping not being for the dead but for the unbelief of the living. Jesus’ groaning was in similar context, a reaction towards the living and not towards the dead.
SURELY, when Jesus heard of Lazarus’ death He would have groaned and wept at that time, but why for the dead when He knew the miracle He was about to perform? Matter of fact, His groaning in verse 38 was in direct response to the Jew’s unbelief in verse 37.
Man must conceive that Jesus, as 100% God, had the power to bring life, but this power is limited by an obstacle man must remove, his free will. This stone in front of the tomb is no obstacle for the God who created the stone. There are no obstacles that stand in the way of the miracle of God to bring life either spiritually or physically.
John 10:10 shows us that Jesus came to give the miracle of eternal life, and abundant life to serve Him here upon this earth.
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
However, God gave man a free will that He will not force Himself upon. God will not force any man to be born again, and He will not force and born again man to serve Him. Man’s choice in what he does with faith will determine of God is pleased and a rewarder of man.
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
Man’s faith is a requirement for Jesus to perform any miracles. Just as he “he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief” in His hometown in Matthew 13:58, He is groaning and weeping at the unbelief of the Jews as He is ready to perform a miracle at the tomb of Lazarus.
BEFORE WE CONTINUE, LET ME ASK THIS QUESTION: HOW MUCH UNBELIEF IS STOPPING GOD FROM WORKING IN OUR LIVES TODAY?
Martha’s response in verse 39 revealed her heart of unbelief. She was 100% accurate humanly speaking, “he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” However, she was 100% inaccurate spiritually speaking. Martha knew that man cannot create life, yet she did did not open her heart to the fact that life has always required a miracle from God!
From life create in the Garden (Genesis 2:7) to life created in the womb, it is all a miracle to God alone. It is no different today, all life remains a miracle from God!
Now, we should understand the stone of unbelief stood between Martha and Lazarus’ hope of life.
Notice the order of things in verse 40, “Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
First, Jesus tells Martha to believe … Then, Jesus tells Martha to see. Man’s problem is that we get these out of order. To us it is “Seeing is Believing” rather than “Believing is Seeing.” Thomas did this very thing after the resurrection, “Except I shall see … I will not believe,” but Jesus told him, “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:25,29).
Praise God, one day very soon, the end of our faith will be our sight! … IF YOU ARE BORN AGAIN!
“…though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.”
(I Peter 1:8-9)
Praise God, one day our faith will become sight. However, in order to see the glory of God of verse 40, we must believe by faith today!
Now it was time for Martha to but her faith into action. This was no “leap of faith.” But rather, it was a conscious decision to believe and obey God by faith. Understand this, you can believe and still not have faith. James 2:19 tells us, “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” To see eternal life, there has to be a time in this life that you have applied faith to your believe, put your faith into action, acted upon your faith with repentance. Faith then becomes our walk, us taking action, and it is then that “we may be accepted of him.”
“For we walk by faith, not by sight: […] 9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.”
(II Corinthians 5:7,9)
Jesus is a “personal Savior” and thus He gives Lazarus a personal call in verse 43, “Lazarus, come forth.” Fact is, Jesus calls and tug at man’s heart personally. The reality of this personal call will hit home with Mary very soon. One day Mary will be standing by another stone. After the resurrection of our Savior, she “seeth the stone taken away” (John 20:1). Her faith will be once again tested, and with similar stone. She will run in fear and not faith to tell “Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him” (John 20:2). On that day she will undoubtedly remember what Jesus taught her by Lazarus’ stone. Again, she will be weeping, Jesus will speak with her about her faith, and then He will extend another personal call to her as He reveals that He is not the gardener of the tombs but her risen and “Personal Savior” (John 20:15-18).
IS THERE ANY GREATER REPRIEVE THEN KNOWING YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN, AND YOU HAVE ETERNAL HOME IN HEAVEN WITH YOUR PERSONAL SAVIOR?
REPRIEVE leads us into what ACHIEVE by a miracle that can only be performed by Jesus Christ, our eternal life.
With Lazarus, physical life is achieved in verse 44. Hallelujah, the abundant life of John 10:10 has now been given. However, when this new life was given, there were old things he still had to be loosed from. God’s people were there to help Lazarus along the way. By this, we must realize that though eternal live is instantaneous, we must grow in the abundant life Jesus gave us here upon this earth. After we are born again, by the same faith we are to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
With Lazarus, spiritual life is achieved in verse 45. This life was a direct result of a lost world witnessing the abundant life faithfully live our by those who were born again. Not only was life given to the physically dead, spiritually dead were given eternal life as they believed on him. Praise God that “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).
We cannot conclude this with applying to us as born again believers, something I trust you have grasped through this devotion.
SIMPLE QUESTION: WHAT STONE OF UNBELIEF IS IN YOUR WAY?
How do you see yourself in the story of Lazarus? Jesus was Lazarus’s Friend, is He your Friend also? If not, He can be your Friend today if you will trust Him as your Personal Savior.
Lazarus was dead, he was wretched and vile. This is a statement and not a question, a place that is exactly where every born again believer stands each and every day. We have not been rescued from the old man, from the sin nature, so we are in desperate need of a daily miracle to maintain a life of fellowship with our Savior as we serve him here upon this earth.
Everyone in our text knew that Jesus was Lazarus’ only hope. Today, many know this truth but refuse to believe!
Jesus was ready to raise Lazarus out of his wretchedness, but first He required faith to be put into action. Jesus is ready to lift us out of our wretchedness, but first He is waiting for us to put our faith into actions.
A stone of unbelief stood in the way of Lazarus’ life. Today, unbelief stands in the way of many. Christian, what stone is in the way of you opening the way of eternal life to those who are dead, lost and dying, and heading to a Devil’s Hell? Sadly, many have gone so far that they feel there is no turning back, when all they have to do is take the first step and Jesus will do the rest. He is waiting to perform His miracle in His own people today. CHRISTIAN, the next time you feel like GOD can’t use you, just remember the men and women of the Bible (this is not my own list, a very common list found in many place but fits this conclusion):
- Moses was a stutterer
- Noah was a drunk
- Abraham was too old
- Isaac was a daydreamer
- Jacob was a liar
- Joseph was abused
- Rahab was a prostitute
- Naomi was a widow
- Gideon was afraid
- Samson was a long haired womanizer
- Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
- David had an affair and was a murderer
- Elijah was suicidal
- Jonah ran from God
- Peter denied Christ
- The disciples fell asleep while praying
- The Samaritan woman was divorced, many times
- Zacchaeus was too small
- Paul was too religious
- Timothy had an ulcer
- Martha worried about everything
- Lazarus did only one thing well … HE WAS DEAD!
NO MORE EXCUSES! PUT YOUR FAITH IN ACTION!
Today, do you see yourself in the tomb with Lazarus?
- Lazarus was dead, HE DID NOTHING
- Jesus was alive, HE DID EVERTHING
- Like Lazarus, JESUS IS PERSONALLY CALLING YOU BY NAME … YOU JUST HAVE TO COME FORTH TO JESUS!
Today, is there a tug in your heart?
- A desire to have a personal relationship with Jesus?
- A desire to start a brand new life?
Romans 10:9-18 will offer anyone the life they seek. Whether it is eternal life for the unsaved, or abundant life for the saved, heed these words:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. 12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? 17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. 18 But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.”