“A man named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, was ill. When Jesus heard it, he said “The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory.” John 11:1, 4.
“I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” Gal. 2:19b, 20.
Here is a question. How are you? How many times do we fool ourselves and others into thinking we’re ok. The one person whom we don’t fool tends to be our GP. GP’s, hospital consultants and nursing staff tend to tell one the truth when one has been trying to hide it. In our spiritual lives, the one person we can’t fool or kid is Jesus.
The passage we’ve heard is quite sad but it needn’t be; it shouldn’t be because Lazarus through the power of Jesus was resurrected – he was asleep, in a tomb, behind a stone and bound – yet the power of God through Jesus was shown for all.
Have we nodded off? Sleepers are unaware of the world around them. Is our church like that? Condorrat? The Church of Scotland? The church in Scotland? In Matt. 28:19 we have what is known as The Great Commission “ Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples…..” Dr C.V. Hill is quoted as saying, “We must be fishers of people, not keepers of the aquarium.” Does Jesus need to nudge us awake? Individually as well as collectively?
It’s easy to become stuck in a rut. We habitually do things without thinking – how many times have you locked your front door and then gone back to check you’ve locked it?! Our Christian faith can sometimes feel in a rut, like a deep grave just like Lazarus’ body was placed in a tomb. Do we need to shake ourselves alive in our faith?
There is nothing more frustrating than coming up against obstacles in our lives; obstacles which appear insurmountable and impossible to move, just like the stone in front of Lazarus’ tomb. The same can be said for our spiritual lives too. We come up against difficult passages in the Bible. We become overwhelmed at the immensity of God and give up. The stone is too heavy to move. The stone in front of Lazarus’ tomb was moved. The obstacles which confront us accepting Jesus can be moved too.
Once Jesus had raised Lazarus through the power of God, he was still bound and wrapped in grave clothes. Jesus freed him – spiritually as well as physically. Does Jesus need to free us? Free us from all the worldly things which bind us? We need the Holy Spirit to free us up. To let loose the chains of worry, resentment, fear, and anger. Let the Holy Spirit work within us as well as the church. As Howard Snyder has said, “The church has resurrection life within it. It needs only to be unbound and let go.”
Jesus is our good doctor. He is the only one who can waken us, bring us back to life, help us to overcome the obstacles barring us from him and freeing us up to rejoice in him always. Will you accept the diagnosis? Will you accept the prescription? Will you accept the medicine? Will you take the medicine?
Lord, so often we fall asleep in our faith. So often we let things pass us by due to our inertia. So often we encounter too many obstacles in our path that they become one too many and we give up. It’s hard getting to know you sometimes, understanding your ways. Sometimes it’s oh too easy just to give up, stop where we are and live with our immature and childlike faith. Move us on to learn more of you. Give us the incentive to keep learning about you. Show us a way through the obstacles and the challenges which come upon us. We’re good at giving up. Help us to keep going.
Too often we become so caught up in our everyday worries and slights we fail to see the good and positive things you are doing. We’re bound up in chains. Through your Holy Spirit free our hearts and minds to know more of you, to feel you close to us and see your hand at work more clearly. Amen.
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