Mar 17 2017

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Jesus Called Him Friend

The Five Minute Friday word is friend. When I searched the word “friend” in the Bible, I discovered something new. The Greek word for “friend” in John 11, in reference to Lazarus, is “philos.” That word means beloved, dear, or friend.

Three times in the story, people questioned Jesus’ choice to not come and heal Lazarus. Everyone knew he could heal. As a friend, Mary and Martha expected he would prevent their brother’s death.

Instead, Jesus purposely waited and let him die. “Friend” and “let him die” don’t make sense. Jesus explained in John 11:4 that his sickness wouldn’t “end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

A man transformed by death

In looking at his story, I saw the transformation of a man. At the beginning, he was a sick man. By the end of the story, he was Lazarus, the one whom Jesus raised from the dead. Even more significant than his new name, he became the cause for many to believe in Jesus. See John 12:9-11, 17-19.

Jesus called him friend. He let him die. For God’s glory. For many to believe in Jesus. This is Lazarus’ story.


Jesus Called Him Friend


he was a man

a man named Lazarus


he lived

but he was sick

he was a brother

his sisters loved him and called for their friend

their friend loved them

but he didn’t come

Lazarus was very sick

Jesus said he was asleep

but later explained that he was really dead

Jesus called this man friend

in the grave for four days,

this brother was

not kept from dying

the very one who could have kept him from death,


Jesus called Lazarus forth

he came out, obedient

now, he has a new reputation

he is Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead

the next scene, Lazarus is reclining at the table with Jesus

they’re friends

because of Lazarus, many believe in Jesus

When Jesus doesn’t come and answer our “If only…”

His love isn’t gone.

He’s purposes are sure.

He’s got God’s glory in mind.


“But if it dies…”

Lazarus is a picture of a man who literally died in order to bear much fruit for God. We don’t know how he suffered on the road to death. We don’t know if he struggled with his faith as he waited for Jesus—who didn’t come through for him as he had hoped.  Four days in the grave was Jesus’ perfect timing for Lazarus—and God’s glory. Instead, we know of the crowd who came to Jesus because of his story.

If we die

If we die to ourself and trust in Jesus, we can bear much fruit because of the story he wants to tell through us. That “If only…” pain in our life (the one that aches because Jesus didn’t come through for us as we had hoped) doesn’t end in death. Instead, Jesus aims higher for us.

Jesus calls us friend

When we put our faith in Jesus, accepting him as our Savior, we establish a new relationship with him. He is the friend who laid down his life for us.

Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

John 15:13

We are called to lay down our lives as a living sacrifice.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Romans 12:1

How will you live?

In light of Lazarus’ story, how will you choose to live? Will you trust Jesus to take your story to a place where God’s glory is first?

That’s my hope. For me. And for you.


Are these words encouraging to you? Share.

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What is Five Minute Friday?

It is a 5-minute writing party. Click the icon to read some other great writing.

Five Minute Friday

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you and encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community.

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