September 3, 2023
This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, The Abundant Life.
There once was a family living in Bethany, near the Mount of Olives. They were two sisters and a brother: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. They loved Jesus, and Jesus loved them.
Once, when Jesus was away on a journey, Lazarus got critically ill. His sisters hurriedly sent to Jesus and said, “Lazarus is at the point of death. Come and heal him!” But Jesus deliberately delayed, and Lazarus died. When Jesus got there, Mary and Martha began to scold Him—“If you had been here, he would not have died!” (Read John 11:1-24.)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Those of you whose hearts are pumping—do you have life? You say, “Yep, I’m alive.”
Actually, you may not be. “She who lives in pleasure is dead while she lives” (1 Timothy 5:6). Maybe your mind is not really on God. You are not truly saved, and you are part of the walking dead, alienated from the life of God. (See Ephesians 4:18.)
Suppose we wanted to raise a dead man back to life. This is what secular society suggests regarding how to live an abundant life:
Someone might say, “See how I live? Be like I am, and then you will have life more abundantly.” Someone might even use Jesus as the example. “Live as Christ lived!” How is a dead man going to do that?
Some people read the Bible and think, “I can never live like that.” You’re right—if it is done, it will be done through you by the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot simply choose an abundant life verse and move forward. Salvation does not come by learning lessons from the life of Christ, but by receiving life from the death of Christ. You must be born again.
Imagine a dead man is lying there, and you say, “Come on, get up! You can do it! You can do anything you believe you can do.”
Do you think that if you encourage your lost friends in their deadness but do not point them to Jesus, they will have life?
People think you can raise a dead man by putting him in the right environment. Ok…take him from the graveyard and give him a party. Put happy people around him. He’s still dead.
Man got into trouble in the best environment the world has ever known: the Garden of Eden.
Germany was one of the most educated nations on Earth, and yet the people followed Adolph Hitler. An ignorant thief may steal a watermelon off a boxcar. Give him an education, and he will steal the whole railroad. He becomes a clever devil.
It takes a miracle to raise a dead man. Jesus said,
“I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
Would you like to live life abundantly?
The raising of Lazarus provides an illustration of how to live an abundant Christian life.
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Why was the Book of John written? “Truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31; emphasis added).
This resurrection of Lazarus literally happened, and it is an illustration of how to be saved: you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ.
Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
How was Lazarus raised? No pleading, no shouting. Jesus simply spoke. “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). The Bible is not like any other book. It will impart life to you. We are “born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever” (1 Peter 1:23).
And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Lazarus had life, but he needed freedom. He was not fit for walking, working, or witnessing with that reek of death still wrapped around him. So Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Do you enjoy freedom through Christ? Do you really? Don’t give the rhetorical answer. Does sin have you bound? “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). “Overflow of wickedness” means leftover sins from your old life: old habits, old language, old lusts.
If you have that remainder, it does not mean you are not saved. You need to be set free to live the abundant life. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him.
Lazarus was now raised, loosed, and at the table fellowshipping with the Lord Christ—enjoying Christ. Can you imagine what this was like? Lazarus, Jesus, Mary, and Martha, fellowshipping together.
People are afraid to come to Jesus, afraid of what they will have to give up. Precious friend, the only things Jesus will ask you to give up are the things that will hurt you or cause you to hurt somebody else. “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11b). God is good, and He wants to give us fellowship and enjoyment with Him. All of God’s promises are ours in the abundant life.
You need faith, freedom, and fellowship with God, but don’t stop there.
Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.
Lazarus was a great witness for Jesus. But not only was he a witness; he was part of the evidence.
It seems almost humorous—the chief priests wanted to intimidate Lazarus with death. He would only think, “Been there, done that!” He knew that sooner or later his body would deteriorate, and it did, but he knew he would be forever with the Lord. He was changed.
Living a supernatural life is not something you have to do; it is something that Jesus Christ does through you. When He does, it is disturbing to the devil, and very convincing to the unsaved.
John 6:63, 8:32, 10:10, 11:1-26,40-44, 12:1-2,9-11, 20:30-31; 1 Timothy 5:6; Ephesians 4:18; 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:21
Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.
O God, You are my God; early will I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.