“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with Him.” (John 12:1-2)
The weary people stood at the edge of the Jordan River, listening to their aged leader Moses recount the history of their journey from Egypt, across the wilderness to the place where they now waited to enter the Promised Land. He reiterated the commands and laws of God and, as he neared the end of his message, as all good preachers do, he delivered the application and gave them a choice: obedience or disobedience – and with the choice came consequences – blessing for obedience or punishment for disobedience.
I have set before you life and death, blessing and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice and hold fast to Him. For the Lord is your life. Deuteronomy 30:19-20
God so desires to bless us. He has a vast storehouse of good things waiting to be poured out on your life and mine. Because He loves us, He watches – not for us to do wrong – but for the moment we do right so that he can rain down “showers of blessings” (Ezekiel 34:26). God is generous with His blessings – lavish even (1 John 3:1). It delights Him to delight us. You can’t begin to imagine what God wants to give you as Paul said: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).
But God reserves those blessings for those who love and obey Him. True, “rain falls on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), but He saves the greater blessings for His children who hear His voice and obey. The account of Lazarus is a perfect example.
In our key verse, Lazarus is at the table with Jesus, his beloved friend, teacher and Lord. The reason for the gathering is significant – it was a dinner to honor and thank Jesus for what He had done for Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. And it is also the point of this devotional. Look back at the first part of our key verse and note that Lazarus had been raised from the dead by Jesus. Take a few minutes to read the account in John 11:1-44. Notice with me in verse 43 that “Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” And what did Lazarus do? He obeyed. “The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face” (v. 44). Lazarus heard Jesus’ voice and he obeyed. And because he obeyed, He was restored to life. Because He obeyed, he was sitting at the table, sharing a meal with Jesus. Lazarus heard, Lazarus obeyed, and Lazarus lived to enjoy the blessings of his Savior. What if Lazarus had decided not to obey? He would have stayed cold and dead in the tomb and not received the blessings of life and fellowship with Jesus. His family would not have given a dinner and Jesus would not have been honored.
Lazarus’ obedience brought blessing, it brought life and a deeper relationship with Jesus than ever before. Lazarus’ obedience brought honor to Jesus – and this in the last week of his friend’s life, for Jesus would die on the cross just six days later.
Jesus called Lazarus out of the grave and into life. He calls you and me out of the grave and into life. We are all spiritually dead until we hear the voice of Jesus calling us out of the grave, and He calls to us all – every man, woman, boy and girl. Some will hear His voice and obey and receive the blessings of everlasting life and fellowship with God. Some will hear His voice and refuse to obey and remain cold and dead, and will receive everlasting punishment. But we all hear. We all are called from death to life. We all have a choice to make.
“Choose life . . . and live.”
Merciful and gracious Heavenly Father, I pray for the soul that reads these words. I pray that they will choose to obey. I pray that they will chose to receive all the blessings You have in store for them. I pray they will chose life. Amen.