Thursday, December 3, 2015
The Resurrection Of Lazarus
“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” (John 11:1-3)
Jesus had made numerous trips to Jerusalem and the region around it, visiting Bethany several times. He had gotten acquainted with Lazarus and his sisters and become very close to them. Lazarus became very sick, and his sisters sent a message to Jesus, telling him that they feared Lazarus would die and asking him to come as soon as possible.
“When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.” (John 11:4-7)
Jesus had withdrawn across the Jordan River to Bethabara because the Jews were trying to kill him. When Jesus heard the message, he stated that the purpose of the illness was so that they could see the power of God and Christ and glorify him, so he waited two more days before making the trip back to Bethany, although he cared deeply for Lazarus and his sisters. Finally he suggested they go back to Judea.
“His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” (John 11:8-11)
When the disciples heard his suggestion they reminded Jesus that the Jews had just tried to have him killed and questioned the wisdom of going back so soon. Jesus pointed out that if a man walked in the day when he was aware of the danger he could avoid it, but if he went at night when he wasn’t aware of it he risked falling into it. He told them that Lazarus was asleep and he needed to awaken him.
“Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.” (John 11:12-15)
Knowing Lazarus was sick, when Jesus said he was sleeping, the disciples assumed that meant his feaver had broken and he was starting to recover. They thought the best thing for him would be allowed to sleep. Jesus then explained that he meant Lazarus was dead. He went on to state that it was better he had not been there when it happened so that they would have their faith strengthened, but now they needed to go and see him.
“Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (John 11:16)
Thomas, later known as Doubting Thomas because he refused to believe in the resurrection until he could see for himself, sarcastically said they should go so they could be killed and be like Lazarus. None of them understood that for Jesus, raising Lazarus from the dead would be no more difficult than waking somebody up.
“Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” (John 11:17-22)
Anyone who has grown up in a small community knows how everyone knows everyone for miles around. Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many people from Jerusalem knew the family. They came out to share their condolences and comfort them over Lazarus’ death. When Martha heard Jesus was coming she went to meet him, but Mary stayed behind. When she met him, Martha told Jesus that if he had come sooner, she knew he could have healed him. She also understood that even at that point in time God would hear and answer Jesus’ prayer.
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.” (John 11:22-28)
Jesus promised that Lazarus would live again, and Martha said she knew that he would be resurrected in the last day when everyone was. Jesus told her that he is the resurrection and the life, and was able to resurrect even those who were dead, asking if she believed it. She stated that she believed he was the Messiah that God had promised, but never answered the question. She then went and told Mary Jesus wanted to see her.
“As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (John 11:29-32)
Mary immediately went to meet Jesus, and the people around her assumed she was going to the grave to mourn and followed her so she wouldn’t be alone. When she met Jesus, Mary said if only he had been there, Lazarus would not have died.
“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him?
They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (John 11:33-37)
Jesus was hurt to see how badly Mary and the others were hurting as a result of Lazarus’ death, and cried that they should suffer so much. They assumed his tears were for Lazarus., and took him to the grave. Others were also questioning whether he could have saved Lazarus’ life as well.
“Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.
Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” (John 11:38-40)
By the time Jesus had received the message and made the return trip Lazarus had been dead four days. When he asked them to open the grave, Martha warned him that the body would already have started to rot and would smell horrible. Jesus reminded her that he had said she could see God’s glory if she could only believe.
“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 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 graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:41-44)
With Martha’s consent, they opened the tomb. Jesus prayed, thanking God that he always heard him, and asking that the others could understand that as well and know that he was truly sent by God. Then he commanded Lazarus to come out, just as if he was telling a child to get out of bed. Lazarus’ head was covered with a piece of cloth, and the grave clothes were wrapped around his body like a mummy to prevent the body from moving. , but he came out at Jesus’ command. Jesus commanded them to release him from those bindings.