Updated: Mar 23, 2020
John 11 v43-44 “When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
This week a close personal friend of mine had a heart attack and died. He was the best man at my wedding and we had journeyed together in life and ministry for over 30 years. He was just 54 years old.
A day after it had happened I found myself sat in the church office at Holy Trinity just looking into space, remembering my friend. Just then Helen, my wife, text me to see, ‘how I was feeling’. It was a good question that did not have an easy answer. Clearly, I was sad at the prospect at not seeing my good friend again, very sad for his wife and two sons whose pain I could not really imagine.
However, inside, deep down in my inner being, there was an overwhelming sense of pride for my friend .It was now ‘his’ moment. It was now ‘his’ time, and I pictured him having a conversation with the Lord Jesus. As I sat there, alone in the church office something inexplicable happened. A tear came down my face and yet at the same time I could not stop myself from smiling - I even began to quietly laugh and chuckle. This, for my mate, was his ultimate moment, he was gaining and receiving what he had been teaching and preaching about all his life. As I sat there, now laughing quite loudly with tears streaming down my face, I imagined his joy and the immense sense of wellbeing he would now be experiencing as he saw Jesus, his King, face to face. What a moment for him, what a hope for you and I. (1Thess 4:13)
I can imagine it that would have been much the same for Lazarus as, in the darkness and in the numbness of deaths strong grip, he heard a strangely familiar voice shouting, “Lazarus, come out” ! What a moment that must have been to come from death to life, this was no mere ‘religious experience’, this was resurrection! I wonder what Lazarus did after his resurrection? I mean, that’s not a bad testimony to have eh?! “Hey, I was dead but now I am alive”. Here is what is so stunning - this is our testimony, this is our story as Christians. (John 5:24)
In these strange and challenging times, I wonder if you can hear a ‘strangely familiar voice shouting to his church’, to you and I, “come forth, arise”. We are people of the resurrection, let us this day, “take off our grave cloths and be free”.