Today’s Reading: John 11:41-44 (NIV)
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank You that you have heard me. 42 I knew that You always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent me.” 43 When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
One morning not long ago, I walked into my kitchen and immediately smelled a deathly odor. I knew before I ever reached the goldfish bowl what I would find. Jonah John had crossed over from his earthly fishbowl into the great river of life. His spirit had obviously left the building but the earthly remains were stinking up my house! He had passed in the night and it did not take long for that rotten smell to permeate the house. While holding my breath, I buried my buddy at sea, and tried to eliminate the residual odor as best I could. It took several days for the stench to completely disappear. Once you begin to recognize what death truly smells like, it is something you will not forget.
Lazarus wasn’t just sick - he was dead. He had been in the grave for four whole days. Rot and decay had set in. Eventually, all that remained of Lazarus’ earthly life were the bones that supported his earthly frame. Jesus didn’t lay hands on Lazarus. He didn’t go into the cave where Lazarus’ body lay and perform some sort of mystical deed. Lazarus’ body was wrapped in strips of linen, lying in the cold stone tomb. His ears no longer functioned. His eyes could not see. His lips could not speak. But everything changed when Jesus called out his name. "Lazarus, come out!" The spirit spoke to flesh and Lazarus heard the Master’s voice and obeyed.
Friends, we have managed to dig our own graves filling them with our sins and failures. We’ve worked hard to hide our broken hearts, hoping no one will notice the foul stench inside. The greatest miracle in life occurs when we hear and answer the voice of Jesus as He calls us out of the grave! His spirit speaks to our flesh, and we cannot help but leave our past behind, choosing to obey and follow Him.
This miracle recorded in the book of John holds a special significance for me. Just like Jesus called Lazarus from the grave, He has called me to come out from the sin that buried my heart in guilt and shame, and begin to live anew in the light of mercy and grace. In this cave, my flesh was wasting away. Rotten to the core, no perfume, make-up, not stylish clothing could hide the decay in my heart. It took a personal call from a real Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ, to bring me out from the grave I had dug. He alone has the power to remove the strips of linen from my face.
On this, his brand new day, Lazarus took a fresh breath of new life. His spirit heard the call of Christ and he obeyed. This same miracle of new life can be yours today. Jesus Christ is calling you to come out, leave your sin behind, and follow Him. Will you hear and obey the call of Jesus Christ today? This day can be your resurrection day.
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC -
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