“Lazarus, Come forth!”
That’s what Jesus said to the opening of the cave in which Lazarus had been buried upon his death. It was the last miracle Jesus did in John’s gospel before he was arrested and eventually crucified. It was a sign that showed Jesus was more than a man, he is also God – the only one with power over life and death.
But, here’s my question: was Lazarus glad to be resurrected?
We all have our thoughts about heaven and what happens when we die, and I’m not here to argue that. But, let’s use a crude, rudimentary idea of heaven. Let’s say Lazarus has died and he’s in heaven playing dominoes with Moses and Elijah. He’s happy. He’s not feeling sick anymore. He’s not having to work to feed himself or his family. He’s beyond content – he’s experiencing the greatest peace he has ever known, and having a good time. Suddenly, a familiar voice breaks the mood – “Lazarus, come forth!” And in the flash of a moment he ends up back in this world, walking out of the cave freshly resurrected, only to one day go through all the struggle of dying once again.
So I have to ask, was Lazarus glad it happened?
What I realized as I was teaching about this story last Sunday is that Jesus didn’t raise Lazarus because it was good for Lazarus. Jesus raised Lazarus so others would come to know the truth – that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. And that made me realize what I already knew but need to be reminded of – when God calls us to go (or to “come forth”) it is not always something beneficial for us. It may just be that God calls us to do something that isn’t a blessing for us, but it leads others to believe.
It seems there are times in my life when I have ended up kneeling at the altar of “me”. The way I would hear God, the way I would interpret God’s voice was too often through the filter of how my life was made better. If it wasn’t going to benefit me eventually, then it became easier to dismiss the call, to ignore God’s word.
Lazarus heard Jesus call to him and he came forth. I have no idea if he really had any choice, but the reality is he did as he was asked. He faced a life that was filled with turmoil, sickness, and struggle – not to mention death – but, because he came back to face this life others came to know Jesus, who is THE Life.
The lesson I take away from all this is that I need to listen for God’s call and to respond. I may not understand. I may even prefer to stay where I am. But, if I were to stay put others may never know the Life they could have. The downside for others is too great. I shouldn’t take that chance.
Therein ends the lesson.
Holy high five to you, Mike