In John 11:17-44 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Mankind is dead in their sin and unable to save themselves from God’s righteous judgment and condemnation. God saves men by first making them alive to hear. Then they respond to the gospel communicated to them by another person. This illustrates how God accomplishes salvation.
Lazarus is dead four days. His body has begun to decay. It stinks! His body physically can’t come back to life by any natural process. This is the state of mankind—dead in their sin and unable to hear! Dead men cannot hear or be awakened. They are DEAD!!
Jesus comes to the grave and calls Lazarus by name. But his body can’t live! How can he respond? His body is rotting and stinking. He’s been dead four days! So, the power of God comes on his body to restore it to a condition of life so he can hear Christ’s call. All the death and decay is removed. The body is put into a condition of life with awareness. This is the work of the Holy Spirit to bring life, awareness and open ears. Jesus spoke about being able to hear three times in the parable of the sower. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear …” God made Lazarus’ body alive. He is aware of his surroundings and his ears are open to hear.
The first action in salvation is God preparing a person, who is dead and making them alive so they can hear the gospel. God alone can do this. Dead men, in their sin, cannot respond to a gospel call without God acting first by giving them life, awareness and ears to hear. That is why we must always pray for God to act before we witness to Christ’s transforming power. Dead men cannot, will not and do not hear us! God acts first!
Lazarus is now alive and aware, lying on the cold gravestone, and hears Christ’s call. He knows he is lying in the grave, so the first thing he does in response to the call is get up and walk out. It’s man’s responsibility to respond to the gospel call, but God uses human agency to complete this process. Jesus called him! Men bring the gospel to other men!
Now he walks out of the grave, but is still encumbered by the grave wrappings, which represent his sin and past life. Although his sin debt has been fully paid by Jesus, his lifestyle, habits, etc. are all still with him. Others must help him shed those grave clothes. Unwrapping him is a picture of discipleship, but that’s for another blog.
This blog was adapted from pages 7-9 of Always Be Ready to Give an Answer! Go to http://yourchristiananswers.com for more information.