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Lessons on preaching from Lazarus’s raising.
A. W. Pink on the enduring portrait of gospel proclamation in Lazarus’s resurrection.
I’m gearing up to preach on John 11 and Jesus’s raising of Lazarus from the dead tomorrow. What a wonderfully full narrative of Scripture pointing us to the right-now power of Jesus’s resurrection. He is, after all, the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25). And this passage brings that to bear in demonstrative fashion. The point that is staggering, at least to me, is just the sheer fact that Lazarus’s resurrection comes on the heels of a spoken word. “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes” (John 11:43–44). The Lord says, “Rise,” and Lazarus’s corpse obeys. And that, I think, is an enduring portrait of precisely what occurs when the gospel is preached. A. W. Pink makes this same point in his commentary on the passage, writing:
He said, “Come forth” not because Lazarus was capable of doing so, but because it was [the] life-giving Voice which spake. The same omnipotent lips which called a world into existence by the mere fiat of His mouth, now commanded the grave to give up its victim. It was the Word of power which penetrated the dark portals of that sepulchre. And here, dear reader, is the comforting, inspiring, and satisfying truth for the Christian worker. We are sent forth to preach the Word to lost and dead sinners, because, under the sovereign application of the Holy Spirit, that Word is “the word of life.” Our duty is to cry unto God daily and mightily that He may be pleased to make it such to some, at least, of those to whom we speak. (2:173)
Teachers and preachers of God’s beloved Word are unburdened from concerning themselves with overthinking the aftereffects of speaking that Word. God himself is sovereign over that. He ensures us that his Word “will not be revoked” (Isa. 45:23). Neither, as he says, will it “return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). When the Word that gives life is declared, life springs forth. The dead are raised. And sinners are snatched from the pits of hell. May it ever be.
Grace and peace.
Arthur W. Pink, Exposition of the Gospel of John, Vols. 1–3 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1975).