Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead just weeks before His own death and resurrection played a pivotal part of Holy Week. All of Jerusalem was electrified by the news of Lazarus being raised from the dead by Jesus. They were even more excited when Jesus entered the city on what we now call Palm Sunday. Behind the scenes, this miracle was the final straw for the religious leaders who began in earnest to plot Jesus’ demise.
In John’s account of this miracle (John 11), we discover truths to three very popular myths that many people embrace today.
Death is the end of life. Many believe that death is permanent, the closing act, the grand finale! You’re born, you live and then you die. End of story! And that’s just not true.
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had already died. His two sisters, Martha and Mary, were distraught, but Jesus responded to their grief by declaring that Lazarus would rise from the dead! Martha agreed, “He will rise at the general resurrection when all rise from the dead.”
Jesus didn’t “correct” Martha saying, “Now Martha, you know that you’ll never see your brother again. He’s dead and that’s the end!” Instead Jesus replied, “I AM the resurrection and the LIFE!”
Our bodies will die, but that’s not the final act. Because we’re created in the image of God, there’s more to us than just our bodies. We are eternal beings. And the Bible tells us that there will be a moment in history when every physical body will rise from the grave and be reunited with who we really are and each of us will stand before God to give an account of our lives.
That truth should get our attention and change the trajectory of our lives! Since death isn’t the end of life, then we should stop living for the moment, satisfying our greed and chasing all our lusts and desires giving no thought to eternity or eternal consequences. Death is not the end, and that makes life here an investment!
I know better than God! Before Lazarus died, his sisters sent word to Jesus to come quickly to Bethany because their brother was very sick. When Jesus heard the news, He didn’t run to Lazarus’ side. He waited two days before leaving for the journey. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead and buried in his tomb for four days. Both sisters said the same thing to Jesus, “If you had only come when we sent for you…” You can almost hear their attitude, “Had you done it our way, Lazarus would be alive!”
How many times have we questioned God’s timing or ways? In Isaiah 55:8-9, “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond what you could imagine!” What would bring God more glory and cause more people to believe in Jesus: to heal a sick man, or to bring a corpse dead in the grave for 4 days back to life fully restored? God knows exactly what He’s doing! His timing and ways are perfect because He’s God and we’re not!
Everyone goes heaven! The Bible is so clear — God passionately desires every person to be with Him eternally in heaven. That’s because He loves us so much! But the human race has a problem: sin. The Bible says “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” A sinful person cannot go to heaven because God is holy and perfect in every way and so is heaven. But the good news is that God loves us so much He sent His only Son into our world to die for us and bear the just penalty for our sins — and that by believing in Him we become a new creation, clothed in the righteousness of Jesus and fit for heaven!
God not only desires everybody to go to heaven, in His love He also provided the way we get there — through Jesus and His death and resurrection. In the gloom of Lazarus’ death, moments before Jesus raised Him to life, Jesus announced, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.”
There’s no magical number of good works that will open heaven’s gates for us. No one can earn or buy heaven. Religion doesn’t even cut it. In John 10 Jesus proclaimed, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” We go to heaven by choosing to believe in Jesus, receiving Him into our lives as our Lord and Savior, and living a dynamic, intimate relationship with Him.
Death is not the end of life! God knows best! And the choice of heaven is ours to make.