Often I have pondered the spiritual meaning behind Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and how symbolically it represents people stuck in a life-less institutional church awaiting the day Christ calls them forth from their religious tombs to enjoy life in the Spirit. Perhaps it’s because I’m a songwriter that I so appreciate the poetic metaphor and the symbolic meanings behind the miracles of Christ.
Consider some of the parallels between Lazarus, a dead man in a tomb with a stone over the entrance, wound in grave clothes and buried under a mountain of fragrant spices to mask his stink; and the unregenerate who are entombed in man’s church where the Spirit that gives life is shut out by tradition and only the spice of programs mask the stench of dead religion. One by one Christ calls out to them saying “COME FORTH” from the tomb, where the living in Christ are waiting to help remove their religious grave clothes and set them free to soar with the Holy Spirit.
Just as life was only found outside Lazarus tomb, so is life and freedom in Christ found only outside of man’s religious system. While there are occasionally people saved in a traditional church as I was, it is wrong to credit man’s church with saving anyone. It is always and only Christ who saves; yet for some reason, because I was sitting in a church building when Christ revealed Himself to me and I received Him, I felt obligated to that church and remained there for many years. Not until I left that church did I experience Christ again for the simple reason that once raised to life, we are expected to come out of the tomb and follow Christ where we are a living testimony of the life He gives us.
About the tomb, Jesus says “COME FORTH”. About man’s religious system, Jesus says: “COME OUT …” (Revelation 18:4).
Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. (Hebrews 13:13-14 ESV)