Theme: Living for Jesus in the midst of Death
In this week’s lessons on the raising of Lazarus, we see that it points to Jesus as the only one who can take us from the state of spiritual death and make us spiritually alive.
Scripture: John 11:1-44
There’s a second lesson that is also an application, and that is the obvious one. Jesus is the source of life. You see, if you really want to live, he’s the one from whom you have to find it. I find an interesting little thing in this story, in verses 14 and 16. Before Jesus actually got up to Bethany he tells them plainly that Lazarus is dead. Now, notice what Thomas, one of the disciples, said: “Let us also go that we may die with him.” They’re thinking of death, and he’s thinking of life. You see, what they had to learn is that as long as they were with Jesus, they would experience life. Not only would they see it in the physical resurrection, but they would begin to experience it in a personal way as well. Jesus is the source of life, and if you’re with him, and you hear him, and you live in his presence, and feed upon him, and grow in that fellowship, then you will live as well.
Here’s a third thing I notice. If you are with Jesus and have been made alive by him, then the world will try to do away with you. You’re not going to be friends with the world because your life will be a reproach to them in their spiritual death. In John 12, the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. Here was this great miracle, Lazarus made alive by Jesus Christ, but they wanted to get rid of Lazarus. The world is trying to do that to Christians.
Wherever there is genuine faith and genuine life, there is also genuine testimony. The world will do everything it can to stamp it out, including by killing Christians, which is not just something that happened centuries ago, but is prevalent in our day as well. And for those countries that have religious freedom, the world will try to push Christians to the margins of society to try to stop them from having any kind of public testimony and influence. The world will say, “You can’t speak about God in our schools, you can’t speak about God in our businesses, you can’t speak about God in our courts, you can’t pray here, you can’t do this, and you can’t do that. If you’re a visible testimony of the power of Jesus Christ to make a person spiritually alive, the world will not want to hear that, and you’ll suffer for it.
The fourth lesson goes along with the third, and it’s this: if that has happened to you, then in spite of the world, you will be a channel by which other people will come to believe on Christ, because that’s was happening with Lazarus. People saw what Jesus did, and they saw Lazarus raised from the dead, and they must have thought to themselves, “Jesus is unlike anybody we ever knew; he’s the source of life.” As a result, they began to listen to him, and to come to him, and to believe on him, and find him to be the Savior. If you’ve been made alive by Jesus Christ, that will happen for you as well. Your life will be a channel of life to other people and they will find it in you.
Lastly, if you do not know Christ yet, then you need to get in a place where you can hear him. You see, if what matters is the call of Jesus Christ because you can’t save yourself, what you need to do is be in a place where you can hear that call. It’s not the call of the minister, though it may come through the call of the minister. It’s not the call of a Christian friend, although it may come through the call of a Christian friend. But if you never hear the minister and you never have a Christian friend, and you never read a Christian book, and you never study the Bible, you are most certainly never going to hear the call of Jesus Christ. Your reading the Bible, your coming to church, your listening to the preaching will not save you. Jesus Christ has to do that. But without those things, you most certainly are not going to be saved.
The Bible tells everyone that they need to search their heart, and to make their calling and election sure. Examine yourself and see whether you’re really saved. If you’re not, you make sure you give attention to the preaching and the exposition of the Word, because that is the way Jesus Christ speaks. What you need is spiritual life. He delights to save sinners, and he is the one, and he alone, who saves them.
Explain how Jesus is the source of life.
How do we see the world trying to eliminate Christians’ testimonies today?
Reflection: In what ways will you try to be the channel through which unbelievers can learn of Christ and hear the message of salvation?
For Further Study: Download for free and listen to a message from James Boice about another of Jesus’ miracles, this one of the feeding of the five thousand. (Discount will be applied at checkout.)