Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lent 2014: Lazarus

John 11:35-44
Luke 16:19-31
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The only parable Jesus told in which He gave a name to one of the characters, that name just so happens to be 'Lazarus'. In that parable Abraham predicts that even if Lazarus were to rise from the dead, those who didn't listen to the words of Moses and the prophets would not respond positively to his testimony either. In John's Gospel we see exactly that: Lazarus is raised from the dead and the Jewish leaders actively tried to kill him again rather than let the Jewish people respond to the message of the Messiah (Jn 12:10). They did not heed his testimony, just as they did not respond to the admonitions of the prophets before him. Nor did they listen to the message of Jesus when He rose from the dead a short while later.
We don't really see Lazarus interacting directly with Jesus. We see their relationship mentioned primarily through Jesus' interactions with Lazarus' two sisters, yet we hear and see that Jesus loved him very much. We don't hear Lazarus' testimony after the resurrection, yet we are told that he was an effective witness since many people came to Bethany to see Jesus and Lazarus and believed because of what they heard and saw. Sometimes we fall into the mistake of thinking that the most valid testimony is the one we witness ourselves. We think that others are less likely to believe us than they would be to believe Jesus Himself if He were still walking this earth. Yet our words and actions are more valuable than we give them credit for. This world is not necessarily worse off for hearing how Jesus has changed us rather than hearing only His oral sermons. Sometimes the witness people are looking for is not the teaching of what they should do but rather the actual difference that teaching has made in the lives of His followers. They believe in Jesus, not because they see Him but rather because they see the new life He has brought about in us.
How will we respond to the testimony of Lazarus, and to those of Moses and the prophets, who all pointed to Jesus as the Messiah? Will we in turn have the courage to share our own testimony with others?

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