Dangerous Proximity

“So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.”

When you read the gospels, the feeling you get is that if Jesus could be said to have had a best friend it would have had to have been Lazarus. It seems that the Lord spent a considerable amount of time at the house where Lazarus lived with his sisters Mary and Martha. Another thing you might observe in Lazarus’ friendship with Jesus is that intimacy with Christ can be “dangerous.”

Think about it, Jesus purposefully allowed his friend to die so that the glory of God could be demonstrated. Remember, it was told to the Lord that Lazarus was sick, and Jesus delayed two days before leaving for Bethany, and by that time, Lazarus had been dead four days. One might be tempted to say, “Uh, thanks friend.” And again, after Lazarus had been raised from the dead, his being a “walking miracle” drew so many people to Jesus that the Lord’s enemies decided they would have to kill him as well. “Uh, thanks friend.”

Something we Western Christians don’t think too much about is that not only have we been given the privilege of believing on Jesus, but also the privilege of suffering for him (Phil. 1:29). We are more than willing to sing “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of God,” but we fail to appreciate that friendship with God may mean that we endure hardship in this life so that the glory of our “Friend” can be manifested to the world around us. Paul put it this way, “[we are] always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:10-12) Scripture reveals that friendship with Jesus and being used by him often entails hardship, suffering, and yes, even danger.

Another thing we see in the relationship of Jesus and Lazarus is that although intimacy with Christ did indeed expose him to danger; Lazarus also enjoyed reclining at table with Jesus during dinner. (Remember, to the Jew, nothing revealed intimacy like the partaking of a meal together.) I’m sure Lazarus would have agreed with Paul’s words, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” And again, “Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Through Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus, the glory of God was demonstrated and many came to believe. I pray that we fall so in love with our “Friend” that we allow him to use our lives in what ever manner he chooses. May our intimacy with Him be of such magnitude that it poses a threat to the enemies of God. For even if our friendship with the Lord should result in the ultimate sacrifice, let us not forget the powerful words Jesus spoke to his dear friend Lazarus who had been in the tomb for four days: “Lazarus, come forth!”