The call to Lazarus
John 11 v43-44 “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.”
Last night we heard the news about further containment that is needed to help stop the spread of this virus.
A few hours previously I was discussing with one of my Pastors how many people would be permitted at a wedding that was being held this Saturday. The difficulty of having to reduce a wedding party from 50 to a handful was painful but not as much as knowing that it will now not be able to take place at all.
During this season we are buoyed by the funny jokes and pictures posting on social media. I saw a picture of 2 people wrapped head to toe in toilet roll the other day. Not sure what the caption was but as I think of Lazarus this morning that picture comes to mind!
We are in lockdown and Churches are rapidly adjusting to a new way of life. But thankfully we are not underground and even during this season God will continue to do great things. One of our Pastors from a small church wrote, “So we did livestream yesterday like everyone else and a young lady that has been to the church a few times with her boyfriend gave her life to Jesus afterwards when she was chatting with one of the people who comes to church online via messenger!”
Even in lockdown people can be set free!
We know we will at some point hear the wonderful call to come out of our homes and gather together again. To socially get near and not be distant. Those gatherings whether with friends, groups or larger gatherings will be special. Can you imagine taking communion together again?
How the Church emerges from this will be interesting to see. I’ve privately speculated, some are prophesying, but I wouldn’t want to call it just yet. It all depends what happens to us in lockdown.
But the call will come, “Come out!”
A call that has been stolen from the Church to announce someone’s secret but now new public identity. We need that phrase back. We need to use it more without worrying of any connotations.
Lazarus was not carried out. He had to take responsibility. He somehow got up still tightly wrapped in the grave clothes and came out of the grave and was standing there at the edge of the tomb.
You can be contained for so long that you have learnt a certain behaviour and moving forward becomes very difficult indeed.
At some point you have to take a risk and leave that what held you.
Lazarus was in the present but he was hindered by what had happened in the past.
The real Lazarus could not be seen.
Ever since Adam hid in the garden, God has been calling “where are you?”
God knew where Adam and Ever were but He wanted them to acknowledge where they were and why.
Where are the next mighty men and women of God? Where are the next generation of believers?
They are not in the pews.
They are trapped behind the pain of unresolved issues, bitter break-ups and rubbish decisions.
They are trapped behind the empty symbols of worldly success.
They are trapped in dungeons of unforgiveness and can find no release.
They are in lockdown. In prisons of despair. They need to hear a call from a friend, “Come out!”
The Lord has anointed us to go to the broken-hearted and heal their wounds freeing them from their pain, to proclaim freedom for those within the prisons of life. To call out those in the grip of darkness and to comfort all that mourn.
That’s our call. To go. It won’t change this side of heaven.
Let’s get calling even now and get prepared for when lockdown is over to go and call like never before. This virus has contained us but Jesus will free us from a greater containment.