Remember the Bible story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead? Lazarus’s sisters were all upset because Jesus had not come to their house when their brother was sick. And because Jesus showed up four days late, Lazarus was dead. When Jesus finally arrived, Martha almost scolded him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” After weeping with his friends, Jesus had them roll the dead man’s tombstone away, and he called to Lazarus to come forth. A dead man walked out of a tomb . . . going from a lifeless body to one that breathed air into its lungs. Now that is something to talk about!
I remember watching this story unfold year after year as my Sunday school teacher placed paper characters dressed in long robes on the black flannel board. I remember seeing the character Lazarus being wrapped in white strips of cloth and thinking it was hilarious that his sisters were concerned about him stinking. But what I didn’t remember was the verse that said, “On account of Lazarus many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their trust in Him.”
Lazarus’s life had become a symbol and an example of the Son of God intervening and changing everything.
The crowds had seen, heard, and witnessed firsthand the restoration of sight to the blind, the forgiveness of sins, and now a once-dead man was alive and walking around.
They had heard Jesus’s teachings, but what really brought people to Him was what they could see the transformation of a human life. I can hear them asking themselves, What? He is doing what? That guy is just like me. Maybe if He is doing that for him than He can do something for me.
God Himself can visit people in the middle of the night. He can appear to the unbeliever with a huge bright light from heaven like He did Saul. But one of the main ways He brings people to Himself is they see in His followers something different than the world has to offer. They see changed lives.
I was talking to a friend who grew up in a home where her parents were not Christians. I asked her, “What made you decide to be a Christ follower as an adult?” She quickly answered, “It wasn’t really anything that Christians would say. I knew what you guys would say. You would tell me that Jesus was the way. It wasn’t that. It was that I couldn’t get over how happy you guys were. It was like you were really enjoying life. That’s what brought me in.”
Just like Lazarus, we as believers have had Jesus forever change us. We really are walking symbols of how much God loves people. May our lives catch the unbelievers’ attention as our countenance and peace allow us to point to Him.
*Check out chapter 11 in John for the complete story of Lazarus (also John 12:11).