A large crowd of people heard that Jesus was in Bethany. So they went there to see not only Jesus but Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. So the leading priests made plans to kill Lazarus, too. Because of Lazarus many of the Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus.
John 12:9-11 (NCV).
Why would anybody want to kill Lazarus? He’d already had a bad week. He’d already died, for crying out loud, and he lay in the tomb for four days. Four days in a tomb usually leads to a fifth, but then Jesus showed up. He called Lazarus out of the tomb, and even without Facebook or Twitter, news of the miracle got around fast.
This was something new. This was greater than turning water into wine or calming a storm. It was better than free bread. It was more spectacular than a blind man seeing color for the first time, or a lame man leaping. This was victory over death itself, and that merited some attention.
So the crowds flocked to Lazarus. And “because of Lazarus,” the Bible says, many believed in Jesus.
What was it about Lazarus that led so many people to come to Christ? We don’t know much at all about him, except that he had two sisters, he died, and then he got better. (The most detailed comment about him came from Martha on the fourth tomb day: “He stinketh.” (John 11:39 KJV)) There is no indication that Lazarus was a great speaker, particularly tall or good-looking, rich, popular, courageous, funny, or any of the things that usually makes a person influential.
Yet none of that mattered. Lazarus did not draw people to Jesus because Lazarus was so great, but because Jesus did something great for him. People flocked to Lazarus not to worship Lazarus, but to learn more about the person who had saved him.
A few lessons I learned about sharing the Gospel from this story:
1. We don’t have to be incredible speakers to share Christ. He is the incredible One. All we need do is share the incredible things he has done for us.
2. God has indeed done wonderful things for us. Spiritually, he raised us from the dead just as much as he raised Lazarus. When we were walking corpses in our sin, God saved us, gave us a new heart, and restored us to fellowship with him.
3. The world won’t always like it when we draw people to Christ. I doubt anyone will plot to kill us for it, not in America, but fulfilling the Great Commission is not the way to become popular in the world.
If we worry that nobody speaks of us the way they did Lazarus – that because of us, many believed – maybe one reason is that we tend to make witnessing about us. We do that by worrying if we’re bold enough, or persuasive enough, or articulate enough. Lazarus’ story says none of that is the point. Christ is the point. I just need to tell people what Christ has done and let his excellence be the attraction.