John 11:44b – Take off the grave clothes and let him go. (NIV)
I recently participated in a fascinating, in-depth Bible study that examined the identity of the obscure figure in the fourth gospel referred to four times as "the disciple whom Jesus loved". This intriguing research has been an invaluable source of blessing to me. Church tradition throughout history has attributed the honour of being the anonymous writer of the fourth gospel to the apostle John, who is also believed to be "the disciple whom Jesus loved".
Reflecting on the title, "the disciple whom Jesus loved", I now observe a comparable reference to Lazarus in John 11:1-3. In this striking passage, Lazarus' name appears for the first time in Scripture when his sisters send word to Jesus: "The one you love is sick." (John 11:3 NIV) Lazarus also seems to fit the profile of an intimate and loyal friend of Christ. Hence, I focus my thoughts on the incredible episodes surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of the one Jesus loved. Have you ever wondered how the raising of Lazarus would impact the rest of his life? Imagine the powerful scene when he responded to the omnipotent voice of God's Son calling him from a cold, dark tomb, "Lazarus, come forth." (John 11:43 KJV)
Consequently, consider the aftermath of this great event:
John 12:9-11 – Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him. (NIV)
Finally, consider the title of my devotional, "A Beloved Disciple". This would include you and me. Like the disciple whom Jesus loved, we, too, have a unique and intimate relationship with the Lord. And in a spiritual sense, like Lazarus, our lives will never be the same again, once we have tasted the life-giving power of Christ.
Prayer: Lord, we believe that You are the resurrection and the life. By raising Lazarus from the dead, You have demonstrated Your unlimited authority to make Your resurrection life available to all believers, even now while we yet live. Free us from the grave clothes of this world that hinder us from serving You only. Like Your beloved disciple, keep us close to Your heart, and use our lives to display Your glory, power, and grace. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.