There are moments in my life when my eyes are opened to certain passages of text that lead me to do nothing else but chuckle. Such was the case with a passage I read today.
I’ve been reading through John’s Gospel and found myself blessed with each turn of the page. Then, as I was reading chapter 12, I came across these words:
When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he (Jesus) was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus. (vv 9-11)
Now it only takes a minute to realize that Lazarus had already been dead once. As though that were not enough, the chief priests now intend to make him dead twice! Do they think for a minute Lazarus would be threatened by that? After all, if you’ve been dead once, laid in a grave for several days, then found yourself brought back to life at the word of the Messiah, is there really anything a priest can do to you that would somehow seem threatening?
Those of us who have been made alive in Christ have known the anguish of sin and the death it brings to the human spirit. We have known the utter emptiness of heart, the confusion of the mind, and the loneliness of superficial relationships. We have known soul death. Then, through nothing we have done, Christ has called us from the grave to live anew through grace. He has raised us from the dead to walk in newness of life. Is there anything anyone can do to us that would neutralize that grace event? Is there any threat any man can bring that would cause us to fear death?
Lazarus was not intimidated by the threats of the priests. If anything he may have been standing there saying, “Bring it on priesty boy! Your threats mean nothing to me!” He knew death – he was not intimidated by it for he knew full well his physical death would visit him again.
We will die. There’s little question about that. However physical death is nothing compared to the spiritual death that sin brings and the eternal separation from God that results. Nevertheless, once the issue of spiritual death has been neutralized in Christ, there should be no fear. There should be no intimidation.
Now the rub of the issue is this. The priests were after Lazarus because “…it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.” Is anyone after us because of the testimony we have among our friends or in the community? I suspect not. Should there be?
Poor Lazarus they want him dead – no…they want his testimony dead!