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  • Pastor Tom Cunningham


Scripture Reading: John 12:1-3

“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. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. ” John 12:1-3

In John, Chapter 11, Jesus, in a powerful show of victory over any and every obstacle, raised Lazarus from the dead after 4 days in the tomb. He invariable puts the ball in our court to quote a modern phrase. What happens next is up to you. I have seen people marvelously touched, powerfully healed, wonderfully and radically redeemed by God—that never once came back to church. What do you do next?

“Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.” (John 12:2) This scene at the table was taking place at the very center of human history. Soon after Lazarus had been raised from the dead, brought out of a tomb wrapped in grave clothes for many of his friends and family to see. This is happening right before Jesus was to be killed—and at the very moment of the anointing of precious oil by Mary…

Jesus went to Bethany 6 days before the Passover which led to his eventual death on the cross. He went there perhaps for several reasons: Maybe as a subtle message or reminder to those closest to him that he came to prepare for the Passover in the city that was now famous for “the Lazarus” resurrection, in preparation for the darker days ahead. It could have been simpler, just to celebrate his last days with his friend Lazarus, whom he loved and from whom he was shortly to be taken away—a farewell visit; his goal to leave with them words of comfort against the day of trial that was approaching.

Lazarus was his friend. He was close to Jesus, and even though He had been about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He still wept at his death… Lazarus was his friend indeed, hosting him at his house and feeding him when he was in and around Bethany. Then there was the sickness, and though they sent for his friend Jesus, He never came—and Lazarus eventually died. Then after that—there was that day—that day that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and their friendship rose to a new level; from friend, teacher and pastor—now to Savior, Redeemer and Lord! … As we grow in Jesus Christ and mature in the things of God and the power and awesomeness of His presence and begin to see who he really is, then we need to allow our relationship to rise to a new level—a new dimension as well.

So now, Lazarus has been raised from the dead and Jesus is back at his house for supper—and Lazarus is at the table. To be Lazarus for a moment and to think of what it must have felt like to be dead, maybe in some dream world—apart, yet surreal, in another world of sorts… then alive, in your body and standing in front of a crowd of curious, confused and awestruck family members. You, still wrapped in grave clothes like a mummy from head to foot; your best friend, Jesus, standing in front of you with a knowing look and that silly grin on his face. Never to be forgotten. So, after something like that, whenever Jesus wants to dine, you are darn well going to be there—and when it has been our blessing to commune with the Lord of Glory at His bequest and in HIS banqueting hall, we wouldn’t have traded that for anything in the world…

It would have been a strange thing don’t you think, if Lazarus had not been at the table where Jesus was. Right? He had been dead and Jesus had raised him from the dead and when Jesus comes to have fellowship, he should be there! For the risen one to have been absent when the Lord who gave him life had returned to his house would have been beyond ungrateful, it would have been unimaginable! Yet we see that all the time don’t we? Perhaps even in your own life! … Jesus wonderfully and amazingly works the miracles of redemption and healing and many recipients then leave and never sow another seed of change, never embrace new life or show any gratitude to the Lord. And when Christ shows up again to meet with them— perhaps to inspect the fruit of their earlier interaction—they are not at the table. Unthinkable.

You see, you too were once dead, and like Lazarus ‘stinking’ in the grave of sin; Jesus raised you, and by His life you live! Can you truly be content to live at a distance from Him after all that He has done? Can you stay away and go on with your life as if you were never in the grave? Could Lazarus have been busy with business, distracted by other matters of life and not find time to be at the table of fellowship when Jesus comes calling? Do we forget Him at His table, where He sanctions to commune and ‘sup’ with His brothers—beneficiaries of His divine power? Oh, that would be heartless and we would need to repent, and do as He has first commanded us.

His family and friends said, “Behold how He loved him” at Lazarus’ “would-be” funeral. And wouldn’t it have been disgraceful to be cold to Him who wept over your lifeless corpse, and seemed ridiculously callous, completely insensitive and unforgivable for Lazarus to dismiss Him and not make it a priority to be there at His next visit? What does it say about you, over whom Jesus has not only wept, but also bled and died? So then, why aren’t you at the table?

“Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.” (Acts 10:40-41) Lazarus sat at the table, as a monument of the miracle Christ had wrought. Those whom Christ has raised up to a spiritual life are made to sit together with him. “Even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…” (Ephesians 2:5-6) There is a table where we have been invited, but only those who return to fellowship with Him AFTER He has raised them from the dead will be there. “Then he said to me, ‘Write: ‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true sayings of God.'” (Revelation 19:9)

And what a table it will be… The place settings go on for eternity it seems, as far as you can see, and the food, oh, food such as you has never laid eyes on. There will be the fellowship of the gathering saints as we find our seats…The ‘omnipresent’ God sitting next to each one of us—and wherever you are sitting—it will indeed be next to the Great One. Millions, perhaps even billions of saints, (some of those may be there because of you) are sitting in giddy delight at the fellowship of the Risen Lamb of God. The newness and freshness of this Table in heaven—all we see and can’t even begin to take in yet—perhaps the time passes… and passes… Was it a year or two or ten thousand? It just doesn’t matter…

“Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.” (John 12:2)

Let our prayer for today be this: “Come, all who read this message, let us return unto Jesus Christ and ask for His Spirit that we may be a people of closer intimacy with Him. Let us not forget for a moment how he has wept and bled and died for us… and so let us sit at the table with Him every single time the opportunity is there.”

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