When God wrote the Bible He wrote to us from His point of view. However, when we read things, we have a tendency to look at what we read through rose colored glasses. If we take off those glasses and look at things through God’s eyes instead, we may see things we really don’t like about ourselves. We are corpses, that’s what God Himself call us in Eph 2:5, 5:14, and Col 2:13. These are some of the many verses that address our spiritual estate before salvation. God demands we look at the whole Bible in this light and when we do, He then shows us more.
Lazarus in Jn 11:1-44 is God’s spiritual explanation, a parable, of you and me before salvation and then God’s salvation comes. He was dead, he stunk, how much more descriptive does God have to make it, he was a rotting corpse! He could not see, he could not hear, he could not walk, nor think nor speak, nor move on his own, yet Jesus calls him by name and he simply comes forth as he was commanded to do. God then describes a little bit more about Lazarus’ death. He was bound with grave clothes. In the literal account of the raising of Lazarus, this is what he was buried in. But it’s the spiritual account that teaches us what God sees. Take off those rose colored glasses and look at the account as God wants us to see it, not as we prefer, seeing only a physical miracle performed by God and not looking at the miracle of salvation that this parable teaches us.
He didn’t have on Christ’s robe of righteousness, he wore his own sinful estate (Zec 3:3-5). Once we are saved, God gives us a change of clothes/heart (Eze 36:26) and we now wear Christ’s robe of righteousness (Isa 61:10) not our old filthy clothes/sins (Zec 3:4). Loose him. Same word “loose” used in Mt 16:19; 18:18. He was now freed from the bondage of Satan Lu 13:16. The people were more concerned about his physical death, Jesus spoke about his spiritual death and rebirth in this chapter. He literally raised the dead but it pointed to the spiritual. Not to be funny but Jesus didn’t say, “Lazarus, open one eye and listen to what I’m offering you.”
The parable here is one of complete death, no life within at all. Therefore no response. The wicked cannot change on their own Jer 13:23. God choose Lazarus’ physical death to show us what He sees inside us when He looks. The point is very straightforward, complete death, no life at all. If you are unsaved, God is telling you that there is nothing you can do on your own to save yourself nor help with your salvation, while unsaved, you don’t even know you are as a dead man. God must do everything, including choosing you for salvation.
The Gospel call goes out to all mankind, repent. Yet God knows full well that no one will, therefore He did all the work involved with our salvation. This is very fair, no one will be able to say, “you never called me to repentance”, He did but they would not repent. Ps 19:1-3 all mankind knows, Rom 2:14, 15 all of us know, it is written in our hearts, but our hearts are now wicked, Jer 17:9. No one will have an excuse on Judgment Day. God calls us to Himself. He has already determined who is saved and only those are made alive, they get called and like Lazarus cannot resist, we have no say in our salvation.
Looking again at Lazarus, we should now see ourself in his place, we too are dead. What can you do to respond to God when He calls? Nothing. If, as God tells us in Rom 3:11, no one seeks God, we certainly cannot come to Him to start with. (The use of the number 4 in the Lazarus parable; 4 days; points to the universality of the situation, north, east, south, west. Rev 5:9, kindred, tongue, people, nation. Psalm 107:2, God calls His redeemed from all lands, vs 3, from the east and the west, from the north and the south. Lazarus is a picture of all mankind, they all get the Gospel message but only God’s elect will hear the rest stay in the tomb.)
If He calls to all of us and we are dead, we cannot respond to Him either. That’s why we’re told in Jn 6:44 that God draws us. If we’re dead how do we say yes or no? We do as we are commanded, like Lazarus. This is why He used Lazarus as our example. The command went out but Lazarus was dead, no response on his part, he couldn’t mull over God’s offer. So God now does all the work. Lazarus simply comes back to life. It looks like he is doing something, he was told to rise. But he couldn’t hear the offer, he was dead, his ears didn’t work. So God gave him life, no choice on Lazarus’ part.
The valley of bones in Ezekiel 37 is even more stark. Prophesy to the bones, i.e., declare the Gospel to them. We are the bones, we have no life. The bones are dry, the opposite of wet. Once God saves us, we now have the water of life in us, Jn 4:14; 7:38. The bones are no longer dry and a miracle now happens, they come back to life. They couldn’t hear nor resist, they were long dead. This is even more stark then Lazarus coming back to life, these were only bones, their flesh was long gone. Yet God simply grants them life. We are the house of Israel, Gal 6:16, all those who become saved from the beginning of time till the last day, we are made heirs by adoption, Eph 1:5; Rom 2:29. The Israel of God represents all whom God will save. We were those dead dry bones but God has raised us up just like He did to Lazarus in John 11. This theme is found many times throughout the entire Bible if we look for it, if we really want to see it through God’s eyes.
The miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection is still nothing less than a miracle, even in light of what God is teaching us spiritually in this parable. But when we take off our man made rose colored glasses and ask God to give us sight instead, we will find we see things more clearly than ever before and we’ll see things as God sees them, not as we prefer to see them. Has God raised you from the spiritual dead yet as He did with Lazarus?