Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” [John 11:43-44 (NLT)]
What do we know of Lazarus of Bethany? The brother of Martha and Mary, he was a friend of Jesus. The first we hear of him, however, he has taken sick. By the time Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus has been dead four days. Jesus requests the stone sealing his tomb be rolled away and calls the man back to life. While we’ve met his sisters, we know nothing about him. Was he was heroic, faithful, or well-spoken? Who knows? Lazarus’ only claim to fame is that he died and rose again. If we were casting actors for the book of John, Lazarus’ part would be a walk-on role with no lines. This nondescript man, however, played a pivotal role in the gospel story. With the exception of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Lazarus’ return to life is quite likely the most amazing miracle of the gospels.
The enthusiastic testimony of those who’d witnessed his miraculous resurrection spread like wildfire. People flocked to see Lazarus, the man who was brought back to life with just a few words from Jesus. His mere existence threatened the Jewish establishment and the priests plotted to kill him, not because of anything he’d said or done but simply because he was a living witness to Jesus’ power. He vanishes from the gospel story at this point. Was he killed? Did he quietly disappear by changing his name and moving to another town? Did he share his story in secret or did he remain silent out of cowardice? We’ll never know.
Like Lazarus, there is nothing extraordinary about me; I’m neither holier nor more deserving than the next person. Like Lazarus, I was dead and, like Lazarus, Jesus gave me a new life. Is my life evidence to the saving power of Christ? Does the way I live give witness to the sanctifying power of Jesus Christ? Does my life speak of His love and forgiveness? Does my existence bring anyone to Jesus? As they were with Lazarus, would the Sanhedrin be afraid of my living testimony?