If I ask you to join me visit a local cemetery so we can raise the dead to life, you would surely think I am crazy. In fact, I am pretty sure you will not go with me because you and I know the dead stays dead.
At church we talk of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. We know that God has given us a mission. That mission is to make disciples for Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).
When it comes to evangelism and disciple making, I like the story of Jesus raising his friend, Lazarus, from death to life. I find the story interesting because it reveals our utter sinful desperation before our holy God. Were we not, before we had an encounter with God, spiritually dead? (Eph. 2:5).
I don’t remember how many memorial services I have attended and officiated through all the years serving as a minister. Dead people can’t do anything. They can’t walk. They can’t talk. They can’t breathe. They can’t feel. The body stays in the casket. They can’t do anything. The dead cannot tell themselves, “Rise up!” The dead cannot tell themselves “Breathe!”
In the same way, spiritually speaking, the dead cannot rise on their own.
This is helpful when sharing the gospel with people. A lot of non-Christians can feel confused when Christians give them a wrong message. Non-Christians are told that they first need to do something good to be saved. They get these do’s and dont’s – that God wants them to behave a certain way before he gives them life. But that is not possible. How can the dead do something good if they are dead? Sharing the gospel through a story like the resurrection of Lazarus emphasizes the fact that without God, we’re all dead and hopeless.
Yes, we all start at the same condition, that is, spiritually dead. Amazingly, by God’s grace, we’re raised to life!
So, when sharing the gospel using the resurrection story of Lazarus, we should say, “It’s nothing I’ve done. Just as Lazarus did nothing to save himself, so there is nothing you or I can do to save ourselves.”
It is the work of Jesus alone that we are raised to spiritual life. Lazarus did nothing to merit his coming back to life. It was all God’s decision through his son, Jesus.
This is what the gospel is all about. It is not what we can do. It is what Jesus did.
If we share the gospel, that is great! But let us treat evangelism no different than Jesus raising the dead. It takes a miracle from God. Just as we cannot raise the dead ourselves to life, we cannot raise the spiritually dead to life through our own efforts.
Jesus is the savior of the world. His work is a finished work. Light has come into this dark world. Our job is to tell people that Jesus has saved them. It is in their belief of this good news that will bring them to relationship with God – a relationship that promises real joy.