Let’s consider for a few moments the awkward predicament of Lazarus. The passage in the Bible that recounts Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11) presents us much food for thought.
Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were dear friends of Jesus. No doubt most of us have been in situations where we’ve wished we could call down a miracle to alter the tragic circumstances of one of our good friends? While we can observe the current havoc in their lives, our big blind spot is that we can’t foresee the circumstances that the desired miracle might create.
Not so for God of course. Lazarus had no idea that he’d be drawn into such a controversial role in the grand story of redemption. This miraculous act that God performed in his life through his good friend Jesus made him a target of the Pharisees as well. Can you imagine how the drive-by media might deal with this? How would the neighbors treat the family after all the controversy surrounding their relationship with the false prophet Jesus?
And so we have Lazarus. Taken ill by disease. Allowed to die by a friend who could have prevented it. Prepared for the tomb and put away for four days. Brought out of the tomb before a gawking, disbelieving crowd. Rejected by the leaders of his religion and perhaps shunned by his local synagogue and community because he wasn’t dead after all. Resented by many because he got the miracle that they wanted for their own deceased. Ridiculed for being part of a con job by the “fraud” Jesus and his posse.
So when Jesus turns to the crowd and says to them “Unbind him and let him go” what does Lazarus face? I believe he faced all that we have to face because he was “undead.” Like those of us who have put faith in Christ, he was alive and was forever identified as one with Jesus Christ. Because of that he too faced the challenge of learning to live in a world system that is fundamentally hostile to anything Christian.
I look at counseling as that unbinding process that all of us need to go through once we become identified with Jesus. At that very first moment, we too are undead as eternal life comes flooding unseen into our spirits. But it is merely the beginning. Just as Lazarus was still bound up with the grave clothes from his burial preparations, we too are bound up with the rank encumbrances (Hebrews 12.1-2) collected on our self-directed trek on earth. God wants us to progress from undead to fully alive!
That’s where we, the Jesus believers, step in and offer help in gently removing those grave clothes – the flesh and the stench of sin and the weight of those chains of bondage – must be put off. They prevent us from enjoying the freedom that is our inheritance in Jesus. They continue to overcome the glorious fragrance of new life in Christ.
No doubt Lazarus was the beneficiary of some transformational counseling from the 1st-century apostolic community after Jesus himself was raised from his tomb, once the mystery of it all became clear to his believers. We at Grace Link are available to offer this unbinding service to the church and to all who desire to be undead and more.
Blake Rymer, firstname.lastname@example.org, 256-682-2216, www.thegracelink.org
Saturday, January 6, 2018