Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Hope from Lazarus

Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone... and [Jesus] cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
John 11:39-41 & 43-44

I don't know what you struggle with. It may be a bad habit or an addiction. It may simply be lack of self-control in general. But no matter how long your particular area of struggle has had power over you, the story of Lazarus is good news for you. By raising Lazarus from the dead it is as though Jesus wrote in large letters across the page of Scripture, "YOU ARE NOT TOO FAR GONE FOR ME TO SAVE!"

Lazarus had been in the grave for four days! That is enough time for visible decomposition to have started. His body would have been bloated and it would have already started to smell. Consider that four days is merely how long Lazarus had been in the grave. We don't know how many days it was before they buried him. All of that to say... Lazarus was dead-dead. I know that isn't the medical term for it. But this isn't someone whose heart restarted after 20 minutes. This isn't someone who woke up from a coma. He was D-E-A-D. When they obeyed Jesus' command and opened the tomb, everyone standing around would have known this for sure, because they would have smelled the decomposition, the smell of death.

But then, a miracle happened. Jesus spoke! And the same voice that called life into being at creation, commanded Lazarus to come out of that tomb. In the face of the indisputable fact of death, Jesus spoke in faith. And the voice of the Creator reached into the grave, into death itself and set Lazarus free from its icy grip. You can imagine the decomposition reversed itself rapidly under the grave clothes. The synapses in Lazarus' brain began to fire slowly at first and then more quickly. His heart began to beat again. His lungs drew in that first precious gasp of air. In that moment Lazarus himself must have smelled the death all over him, and yet there he was alive again. He walked out of that tomb bound by the trappings of death, but what did Jesus say next? "Unbind him, and let him go."

Don't fall into the trap of thinking that what binds you is too strong for Jesus. Don't believe the lie that the enemy whispers in your ear, that you will never be free of your alcoholism, or nicotine addiction, or overeating, or pornography, or masturbation, or whatever sin entangles you. Jesus is powerful enough. You aren't too far gone. He can save you. You can be set free. Indeed, those of you who believe in Jesus have already been set free; you just haven't learned to walk in your freedom. Romans 6:18 says, "You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness." 2 Corinthians 5:17 "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  

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