At the end of each year, the editors of Time Magazine select one person who has made the most impact in the world the previous year. The first recipient was Charles Lindberg, who in 1927 made the first solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to Paris. The editors of Time called 25-year-old Lindy, “the most cherished American citizen since Teddy Roosevelt!” Ironically Time Magazine made an oversight and forgot to include Lindberg on the cover immediately following his historic flight. Instead of completely overlooking Lindberg, Time decided to name him “the Person of the Year” for 1927. The tradition caught on! Today…people wait to find out who will be Time’s person of the year. Sometimes the selections are inspiring such as Winston Churchill or Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr …or they’re very controversial like Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler! But, the key is to select the person who has made the most impact on the world… for good or evil…the previous year.
I have no doubt that if Time Magazine had been in existence in the year AD 29, they would have selected Lazarus as Person of the Year! One could make a case for King Herod, Pontius Pilate or Caiaphas, the high priest, as person of the year. But, there is no question that Lazarus was more influential than anyone in AD 29. Lazarus (the brother of Mary and Martha) died and was in the tomb for four days. When Jesus visited his tomb, he prayed over Lazarus’ dead body, and shouted, “Lazarus come forth!” When Lazarus came out of the tomb, the crowd was stunned…but they unbound him…and took off his grave clothes… and he was ALIVE!
The raising of Lazarus from the dead explains the HUGE crowd on Passover (that we will celebrate next week on Palm Sunday). Jews came from all over the world to Jerusalem for the Passover. Even today, Jewish people have the dream of being in Jerusalem for Passover saying: “Next year in Jerusalem!” On the day we know as the first Palm Sunday, people lined the streets to get a glimpse of Jesus of Nazareth…but they also came to see Lazarus! The gospel writer John tells us: “the people were also there to see Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So, the Chief Priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and believed in Jesus.” John 12: 9-11. None of the other gospel writers let us in on this fact. The presence of Lazarus at Passover was a threat to the Chief Priests who wanted to kill him…but to the crowd, he represented the power of Jesus to defeat death. In just a few days, however the people will come to understand that Jesus had much more in mind than the resuscitation of one man who will still have to die one day. Jesus’ death and resurrection will offer resurrection and eternal life to the whole world! Do you believe this?