We’ve heard the questioning phrase, “What’s in a name?” The answer: Biblically, a boatload, actually. When we begin reading John 11, we are introduced to a man named Lazarus. We find he is a brother, lives in Bethany and is ill. But beyond those three initial facts, before going any further so much gets lost in the translation – his name. Names given in ancient days helped define the person, gives a title and even their destiny. Lazarus is known to come from the Hebrew, meaning ‘God is my help.’ Continuing the story: Lazarus dies, he is buried, the sisters mourn, and after 4 days Jesus comes and calls him out with all Godly authority and out of the grave walks … Lazarus. THAT is indeed ‘God is my help.’
Names. I am known by many names, legally I am ‘Diana’ and if called out by my dad, I am ‘Diana Rena’ (and better respond quickly) but to most I am DeDe. To my sons, ‘Mom’, my granddaughter, of recent ‘Grams’ and to my Beloved, I am ‘Sweetheart’. These names offer relationship, title and yes destiny. But my most cherished name and the honored title is ‘Child of God.’ It is SO defining. John writes, “Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12-13, NIV) I am born of God, His child, His daughter.
The scriptures speak of the privileges that accompany the title (AND the responsibility) of being a child of God, one – inheritance (See: Ro 8:17; Tit 3:7; Eph 1:11,18; Acts 20:32; 1 Pet 1:3-12, Col 1:12-14, just to name a few). Folks, this alone is huge, when we are in Jesus, we get the full-meal-deal, the whole God package! Because of our relationship with Him, our name is more than DeDe, Lisa, Bob or Mary – it is CHILD OF GOD. So, you too, like Lazarus, may be a brother/sister, live in ___________ and even sick (be healed in Jesus name) but because of your titled name, YOU get the privilege of walking out of an assured death sentence to … LIFE! As your story continues, don’t let your name get lost in the translation of the world, keep walking, remembering who and Whose you are – a Child of God.
What’s in a name? Everything.
HIS, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
*Photo credit: product of IdealPin
We’ve been singing a song at church that makes me throw my hands up, eyes closed and stop singing and just listen to the words. Beautiful. Just beautiful. ‘You Came’ (Lazarus) by Melissa & Jonathan David Helser. The opening words: “You stood outside my grave. With tears still on Your face. I heard You say my name. My night was turned to day.” Continuing in the chorus, “You came, I knew that You would come.” Knowing the Lazarus story…beautiful. Knowing my story …beautiful.
Lazarus, the brother to Mary and Martha, had grown sick, word was sent to Jesus. Upon hearing the news, Jesus says Lazarus sickness will not end in death (John 11) yet even in His love for the trio, He decides to stay a couple more days before setting out to them. In the meantime, Lazarus dies. His body prepared, wrapped and placed in the tomb. Jewish tradition states, men could not wrap a woman’s corpses, but women could wrap both men and women, so Lazarus may have been wrapped by his own sisters. When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.
Hearing of Jesus’ arrival, Martha goes to meet him, Mary staying home. Martha full of emotional pain, states what I’m sure we all would have said, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus says to Martha, “Your brother will rise again… I AM the Resurrection and the Life…” (v25) Mary is soon sent for, she comes running (with a crowd following) reaching Jesus, she falls at His feet. She too states the same painful declaration. Jesus seeing her pain and of those with her, He asks “Where have you laid him?” Jesus too weeps.
Reaching the tomb, Jesus tells those nearby to remove the stone. With the stone rolled away, He looks up and prays, then saying with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” Why the loud voice? He could have commanded the same with a whisper. Could it be, beyond wanting those congregated around to hear, Jesus wanted there to be NO mistake of this being of magic or sorcery. “When men tell you to consult mediums and spiritist, who WHISPER and MUTTER, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” – Isaiah 8:19 (emphasis mine) He calls with DIVINE authority! This is no act of sorcery; this, THIS what you are witnessing, is an act of the Miracle Working God! “The loud voice was not for the benefit of Lazarus, but for the sake of the crowd standing around that they might see that Lazarus came forth simultaneously with the command of Jesus.”*
“Lazarus!” Augustine once remarked that if Jesus had not said Lazarus’ name, ALL would have come out from their graves. Earlier in John’s gospel Jesus said, “Don’t be so surprised! Indeed, the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to experience eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to experience judgment.” (5:28-29) “Lazarus!”
As Lazarus responds to the Son’s voice, he comes out bound. The wrapping was thorough, binding the limbs to keep them straight, Jesus instructs “Take off the grave-clothes and let him go.”
How many of us too, were tightly bound, death over taking us, barricaded in. Until. Until He called our name! He calls with DIVINE authority! He calls with divine timing! In our walking out, may we not forget to take the grave-clothes off, they are not designed for walking… or for living! Jesus’ last words “…let him go…” in the original Greek: the verb meaning ‘to go’ means to go NOW, while the complete opposite renders, ‘do not return.’ When Jesus frees us, we are FREE – no turning back, no rebinding. Free!
“You came, I knew that You would come.” He calls with DIVINE authority! He calls with divine timing!
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Enjoy the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7NdBVTtvcg
- Quote: The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty.
Resources: Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament, Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, NASB Greek-Hebrew Concordance/Dictionary, Strong’s Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Bible Knowledge Commentary, Barnes Notes on the New Testament, The Classic Bible Commentary, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Matthew Henry Commentary, Bible Background Commentary – The IVP Bible Background Commentary – New Testament, Bill Puryear, Masters of Divinity, Talbot Theological Seminary notes on the Book of John. And other geeky stuff I forgot to jot down.