One of the recurring questions that I've dealt with over the years as a pastor is, "How do I know that Jesus is for real?"
It's a great question. And it has millions of answers. You're probably one of them.
Lazarus was one of them. After being raised from death, Lazarus settles in for a nice quiet life in the Jerusalem burbs. But unfortunately, news got out real quick about what had happened. Someone went and told the Pharisees. Bad move.
John 11 tells us that the religious leaders were all aghast at Jesus' actions - the great Bethany Boo-Yah! - and they accelerated their plans for extermination of the pest. Jesus decided to take his closest friends on a camping trip to Ephraim to avoid the hassle.
But Passover was approaching, and Jesus knew Jerusalem was the final destination. John records that six days before the celebrations, Jesus brought his followers back to Bethany, and Lazarus and his two sisters threw a little soirée. (Side note: Martha served; Mary "wasted" some perfume).
According to John 12:9 - "When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead."
Lazarus was now proof. Living, breathing, walking, talking, partying proof that Jesus was the real deal. Lazarus was dead. Now he's alive. Jesus did it. What more do you need?
Our lives - having been raised from the dead ourselves because of Jesus - are the proof that Jesus is who he claims to be.
I am all the evidence anyone needs to verify the accuracy of Jesus' claims.
As I sit here at my desk writing these words, it burns me that when people look at me they might see more death than life. They might notice more proof against Jesus than for him. I so want people to see that Jesus has redeemed my life from the pit. But often my life looks like I'm still living down there, wallowing in self-pity and wondering why life is so crappy.
At TLE, we've been pushing ourselves to live like we really are. If you know Jesus, and have anchored your whole life on him, you've been brought from death to life, just like Laz. Who knows this? Who is chasing you down to find out what happened? When is the last time you had a party at your place, invited Jesus and a few of his friends, and then invited the whole town over to tell the story again about your own personal BOO-YAH moment - your resurrection?
Here's an interesting thing: Lazarus never says a word. NOT ONE WORD. Because of that, I think Lazarus was a shy person. He let Mary do the talking, I think.
But I think Lazarus lived out the proof of Jesus' actions on his behalf every day of the rest of his second life. In fact, rumor has it that he eventually lost his head in France because he would not stop telling people about what Jesus had done.
The proof that Lazarus provided made the enemies of Jesus angry and frightened--so much so that Lazarus was added to their hit list. First, take out Jesus. But that's not enough, because as long as Lazarus is still around, there's undeniable proof. They decided to kill Lazarus "because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus."
Have you made any enemies of Jesus upset lately?
I long to have it said of me, "As long as Benson is around, there's undeniable proof that Jesus is the real deal."
What if that could be said of all of us on The Lazarus Experiment? We could change the world.
Suggested Scripture For Today: John 11-12
Write out the story of how you came to Jesus and how he saved you from death. Mail it to three people who may not have heard it before. Just tell them, "I really wanted to make sure you knew about this, because you're my friend."
Host a Lazarus party at your house. Invite Jesus and a few of his friends, and invite some people who have never met him. You'll never know what might happen.
On the back of several Laz cards, write out a one-sentence testimony and your phone number. Leave them in places where people might find them. (Yes, this is risky. Lazarus would have taken some risks).
Answer this question by making intentional changes TODAY in your life: "What could I do to make my BOO-YAH new life more outrageously visible to others?"
Question of the Day: What would have made Lazarus more angry AFTER his resurrection than before? Anything?
You - yes you! - are changing lives through TLE. Your posts, encouragements, comments, and prayers are making an eternal difference. Keep living like Laz!
This is HUGE to me. Bigger than even I have realized before. I've got a few testimonies - some true life changing events in my life that are really tremendous. I try hard to make every day count and be grateful for the days the Lord has given me. Knowing my book is already written and my pages numbered, I want to make the best of each and every page, each and every opportunity. As a result of that, I attempt to make sure that I emulate the goodness, love and joy in the lessons and blessings God has given me. I do share the Lord with others daily. Not shove it in your face stuff, not bible thumping that others refer to as so rude and don't like that "in your face" type of religion. That being said I think spirituality and religion are two different things. I think that my life shows my spirituality and my love for God. I think my reverence is evident. And, I am not shy about sharing my heart, my thoughts and my God with others.
I think my take on Enemies is evidence of my love, my reverence, my fear of His wrath should He so impose it.
Day 11 - enemies -
This is a toughie for me. I've lived my whole life in fear of making enemies and yet I do. We all do. It's unreasonable to think that we are going to be loved, liked, respected, enjoyed, etc by ALL people. But we can try!
And yet, no matter how hard we try, we make enemies. We don't intend to and in fact it might not even be our own fault. Often it's not our fault.
I have very few real fears.. but they're big. One - to not teach my children how to have a real relationship with God. I can't imagine my kids not seeing how living through God is so much easier than trying to do it on your own.
Two - I cannot imagine being a disappointment to someone. I know how unrealistic that is. I truly do know how unrealistic it is. However, I've worked hard - really hard - my whole life to not disappoint anyone. Do I let someone down? Yep - guess who - You ready? Me...... I let myself down. I let myself down because the things I really need to do for ME are the things I neglect. How sad is that... all because I don't want to disappoint someone.
Three - Someone passing away or walking away without knowing how I really feel about them. Despite my best efforts, I sometimes am not great at this but I never ever end a conversation with people without letting them know they are important to me. If it's an aquaintenance, it's a wish for a blessed day. If it's a loved one or a cherished friend, it's an I Love You!. If it's a good friend it's a wish for all good things and a "Bless you!" Yes, I do that. Even my email ends with "Peace and Blessings, Lissa"
So that brings me to enemies - little boy and I have enemies - typically because we get called "Goody Goody" and "Always listening to his Mooooommmmmyyyyyyy" and "He's no fun - he always does what he's supposed to." he's berated and bullied for being a good person. When he gets to high school it will be somewhat different, but for now, in middle school, it's social suicide apparently.
And he's decided to take that out on me and his teacher LOL. We had a bad time - arguing about his attitude yesterday about schooling, his teacher and his cavalier attitude about his responsibilities. Thank goodness God got a hold of him about half way through and he worked it out. By the time he left, he'd gotten his teacher's approval and was ready to tackle the things he needed to tackle. Do I take this as my own Laz moment? In a way yes, because I didn't hold my thoughts back from him and I was very adamant about him resolving his issues. To stand up and face the problem and not try to circumvent it. I stood my ground with little boy and he eventually was able to stand up and face his. Yes - we were both winners yesterday!
Now all that being said, he is realizing making an enemy of his teacher or his momma is not feasible. It's not in his best interest to do this. It's not that it's a "goody goody" thing to consider at this point, it's just simply a bad bad decision with decidedly difficult and unpopular consequences. At some point we have to resign ourselves that it's just easier to do it "the right way". It's just easier to live according to the "rules". It's just easier to do what is expected of us the first time.
The same applies to living by the word. If we live according to the word of God - by the rules so to speak - we take away all the what if's, the potential for disaster, the potential for sometimes horrible consequences. We experience the rewards, we feel the love and the goodness and we reap the rewards.
Will that still leave the door open to potential enemies? Sure it will... but these enemies will be the losers; the ones that will always be in our wake, riding the rough waters. We will be in the boat with jesus at the wheel, enjoying the ride. I know which I prefer... how about you?