Adult Object Lesson: The Raising of Lazarus
The Breath of New Life
John 11:1-45 • Ezekiel 37:1-14 • Psalm 130 • Romans 8:6-11
This week’s lessons revolve around the breathing of new life and spirit into the what, in our eyes, is beyond salvaging.
Ezekiel stands in a valley filled with bones. Old, dry bones. God breathes life into this army of bones.
He gives a final speech.
I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act, says the Lord.
Jesus calls Lazarus—stinking dead Lazarus—out of his tomb.
He then steps back. He turns to the crowd who are probably stunned by the miracle. He pulls them into the miracle. Get involved. “It’s your turn. Unbind him!”
Today’s object is a trash can with some selected trash in it—trash that might benefit from new life.
Pose some questions to your adult learners.
Why, we have to wonder, are these selected references to dying and resurrection passed on to God’s people generation after generation—death after death? What do these miracles mean to us today?
Ask your adult learners: What did Lazarus do with his new lease on life? How did he approach his eventual death? Did he live every day as if it were the last day of his life? Did he relax with the preview of what death was like? What was discussed at the dinner table in the days after the amazement and joy began to dim —and the story of Christ’s crucifixion became the next hot topic.
Allow your congregation to offer their ideas.
Then turn to your trash can with some discarded items. Ask how they might have new life.
Items might be:
- clothing that might be handed down or sewn into a quilt or made into rags.
- an appliance that might be stripped for parts or hardware.
- junk mail that can be recycled into blank sheets of paper for someone to write or draw on
- jars that might be used to store hardware or made into a candle or flower vase
- newspaper that might be made into a toy sailboat or hat
Here’s an example from my experience this week:
I watched as a junk recycler worked to remove an old grand piano from a house I was selling. I had offered it for free, but no one wanted it. It was heavy and large—too much trouble. The workers took a sledge hammer to it and carried it out. But then there was this possibility, if I only had the skills and energy—that breath of new life!
Lesson: one way of breathing new life into a congregation is to strengthen members’ skills and energy!
The Church today is often tempted to think of their small communities as “trash”—dead as far as any useful mission is concerned. Dry as the bones in Ezekiel’s valley.
Do we wade through the bones? Do we call upon the Lord to breathe new life into them?
It all depends on what you believe.
Our God sides with life.
What might your congregation do with a breath of new life?
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