“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
“Lazarus, come out.” In John 11, we read Christ call authoritatively out in a loud voice to Lazarus to come out of the grave. He was given a second chance at life after having been dead for four days. Who knows how long those four days felt to Lazarus. It could have felt like a lifetime. It could have felt like a split second. Scripture doesn’t say. What Scripture does say in John 12:9-11 is that large crowds gathered to see Jesus and Lazarus after this miracle had taken place and that there was a plot to kill them both because many were starting to believe in Christ because of L's resurrection.
This seems to be a theme for all those in Scripture reborn in Christ. All of the apostles (except Judas for obvious reasons) were persecuted after the Crucifixion, especially after they were given the Holy Spirit after Pentecost. Self-described “apostle to the Gentiles,” Paul was persecuted beyond human comprehension after his rebirth when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. Despite the severity of his trials, his intense love of Christ never seemed to wane and he was never detoured from his mission to lead others to a personal relationship with Christ and grow the early church. In the book Lazarus Awakening: Finding Your Place in the Heart of God by Joanna Weaver, she speculates: “I believe Paul remained unshaken and unmoved because he was already a dead man. He no longer belonged to himself. He no longer relied on past accomplishments or the present approval of men. Paul was motivated by a future hope that was centered in Christ and being “found in Him” (Philippians 3:9). Everything else was just a big bag of “rubbish” (verse 8) to this man who had given up so much to give Jesus Christ his all.” Pg. 149.
Despite intellectually knowing that rebirth in Christ often correlates with persecution from this fallen world, my heart seems to forget that there is also a peace like no other found in having a personal relationship with Jesus. I get so caught up in my addiction to approval from others, that I sacrifice the security found in abiding in Christ. I was released from the tomb of addiction almost four years ago, but I still voluntarily sit in the dark at times. I sit in the stench of my rotting fears and insecurities. Fears that the world isn’t how I think it should be. Insecurities I will never be fully healed. But God isn’t threatened by my stink. He wasn’t four years ago, and He isn’t now. He calls out my name (even when I can’t hear Him) and invites me to come out of the tomb. He wants me to continue to die to myself so that I can live fully in Him.
This is the life of the believer. It is a joyful yet challenging road at times. But we aren’t called to do it alone. Joanna points out that in John 11:44 that Jesus tells the other spectators of Lazarus's resurrection that He wants them to unbind them and let him go. He didn’t ask Lazarus to untie himself. He had others help him when he was unable to help himself. And that’s what the body of Christ is all about. We may all be messed up, broken people in this fallen world. But we can continue to be the hands and feet of Jesus despite our brokenness. I am so grateful for all the people God has placed in my path that have helped me on my recovery journey and who continue to do so. Countless gifts. Words spoken when I needed encouragement or insight. Hands that held me when my spirit was distraught and crushed. People who sat with me in silence when the world felt like it was ending. Souls who were a light in some of the darkest times of my life. Those who continue to help me carry my cross when I cannot carry it myself.
Even Jesus didn’t carry His own cross on the Via Dolorosa. God sent Simon of Cyrene to help Him take it. The cross must be carried all the way to Golgotha. We all have our individual crosses to bear in this lifetime until Jesus calls us home or returns. As believers, we must continue to let the cross have its way in us. We must die to ourselves: our wants, desires, and dreams. And when we do this, we will begin to shine like Christ in a dark world.
Joanna reminds us of Mother Teresa’s quote: “God has not called me to be successful. He has called me to be faithful.” The saint’s diaries show that she felt alone and isolated from God throughout her life serving others. There were many times that she didn’t feel Christ's love or very Christlike. Yet she carried her cross because she was faithful. And Christ helped her carry hers even when she couldn’t feel His presence. We are all promised the same as Children of God. Let us not only believe that God loves the world but that He truly loves you no matter how you feel at this moment. Jesus was already successful. We just need to stay faithful.
It’s time to arise, precious Child. Come out of that grave and let God perform a miracle in your life. Don’t live in Friday when you know Resurrection Sunday is right around the corner.
When you come out of that tomb, He will be waiting there so the body of Christ can help you unwrap the hurts, habits, and hangups.
If you get time today, please check out Lazarus Awakening by Joanna Weaver. It’s an excellent resource to help unwrap whatever is holding you back, clearing an intimate path to Jesus.
Reader, come out.
Have a blessed week.