The Man With the Famous Last Name

Glowing Tomb

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” John 11:25-26

The story of Lazarus from John 11 is a real picture of Jesus’ power over the grave. Death, suffering, sickness, sorrow, and unbelief all die their own deaths in the face of a story like this one. Perhaps you know the story of Lazarus. He was from Bethany and lived with his two sisters. After falling sick, Lazarus dies. Word reaches Jesus that his friend is gone. Jesus arrives in Bethany after Lazarus’ body had been placed in a tomb. Mary and Martha, sisters of the dead man, meet Jesus on the road. Jesus asks in verse 26 if they believe in him as the resurrection and the life. Each in their own way assure him that they do.

Deeply moved and in tears, Jesus approaches the tomb holding his friend, issues a command to remove the stone blocking the entrance, prays, and tells Lazarus to come out.

Lazarus comes out.

Jesus tells the family standing around to remove the grave clothes and let him go.

In the days following, what was life like for Lazarus? The Bible records no spoken words belonging to Lazarus. We wonder if Lazarus was a common man living an ordinary life. We don’t know much about him except that he was someone else’s brother. He appears in the gospel story, not because of any shining qualities in his personality nor because of any legendary achievements, but only because of the amazing miracle that happened to him.

Later in the narratives, we find Lazarus again. This time, he is in attendance at a dinner where Jesus and his disciples are also present. He is recognized as, “Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.”

Everyone has a first name. We all go by the names our parents gave us or nicknames we have earned over time. We also have a last name; a surname to identify us as belonging to a certain family, or holding a particular history, or originating from a specific location. Lazarus kept his first name, but Jesus defined his last name. For Lazarus, identity, history, and origin began with Jesus. Now Lazarus’ full name reads, “Lazarus Whom Jesus Raised From the Dead.”

He was still a common person living an ordinary life, but he had an uncommon, extraordinary witness to the power of God. Everything he had been given, all that he was able to accomplish, each relationship he valued was only because of the miracle Jesus had worked in his life.

John 11:26 ends with the words, “Do you believe this?” Jesus is asking the sisters if they believe in him as the only one who holds the power over death and suffering.

Jesus asks us, “Do you believe this?” Can you stand with Martha and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world” (verse 27). Because of this answer, Martha was about to witness the power of God. She, too, qualified for a famous last name. Maybe hers would read something like, “Martha Who Saw Death Defeated.”

Have you witnessed the power of God either in your own life or in the life of someone close to you? Have you seen prayers answered, diseases healed, lives saved, or hearts changed? If you can answer yes, then perhaps Jesus is waiting to give you a famous last name.


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