When Jesus caused Lazarus to rise from the dead


The record of this miracle is found in John 11. He was very ill and his sisters Mary and Martha sent for Jesus that he might perform healing. Whatever the sickness was, Lazarus must have suffered physically. After he died, his body was wrapped in grave clothes resembling a mummy.

[Jesus and these three people had a history together. Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with very valuable oil. Then she wiped his feet with her hair.]

Their first thought was to send for Jesus. This is a good example for all of us when we face  illness or other troublesome circumstances. Turn to Jesus first, not as a desperate last resort.

Jesus delayed coming to Bethany for two days after receiving the message about Lazarus. The most important point of this circumstance is found in verse four. In another situation, Jesus and the disciples came across the man that was blind, who told the disciples the same thing he told them about Lazarus. He said, “for the glory of God, that the Son of Man might be glorified thereby.” In both situations, these two men suffered. However, the suffering, experience, and illness was for the glory of God. What a challenge this is to all of us! Are we willing to turn our suffering over to Christ so that he might be glorified? God has a method and purpose even for the things that are despicable in our lives for a long period of time.

The blind man suffered as a pauper begging for anyone to give him money because he had no means to earn a living. The friends of the Lazarus family gathered about them to show their concern. It is so important for us to realize that the things we experience can be for the glory of God if we allow it and if we see a positive spiritual truth about it.

Jesus waited two more days before he went to the home of Lazarus knowing that he died. Here again is an object lesson for us all. The answer to our prayers may be delayed and not according to our own timetable. Still, God is in charge. What Lazarus experienced is greatly profound and much more than any of the circumstances we would find ourselves in.

The disciples knew it was dangerous to go to the home of Lazarus and after a discussion resolved themselves to go with Jesus even if something did happen. It was necessary for Jesus to enlighten the disciples about the condition of Lazarus because by that time he was dead. There are times we don’t understand what is happening in our lives; we need to be patient and wait for God to answer us.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, the impulsive Martha ran to him complaining according to her timetable, Lazarus would not have died. How important it is for us to comfort ourselves that Jesus is in charge no matter how the situation seems. In essence, Martha rebuked Jesus. I am sure many of us are tempted to rebuke God for not answering our prayers the way we want them to have been answered.

Martha was so involved in theology that she was blind to the moment. As far as she was concerned, Martha had to resolve herself to the resurrection of Lazarus in the last days. Never did she consider that Jesus was going to intervene in a mighty way. We must surrender in faith to God any and all of our concerns without being bitter that he did not respond sooner or in the way we wanted. She placed herself above Jesus by making him accountable to her concepts and frustration.

Versus 25, 26 are so profound because Jesus responded for her to submit to him for his timetable and in the way he planned. In this case he already told the disciples that he allowed Lazarus to die so that the father and he could be glorified. We must challenge our own thinking about our relationship with God. We must endure and be faithful in our beliefs until God responds even unto death. The point is that Jesus is so powerful and so much in charge that even death was not an impediment to him.

When Mary came running to Jesus, she also complained to him that he did not operate according to their expectations. His response to Mary was not theological. The Bible says that he groaned in his spirit and was troubled. God is affected by the storms of life that we go through. He cares about us and about those storms. To me one of the greatest versus is number thirty-five that said simply, “Jesus wept.” This is so profound that the great Creator of all that is on this planet and throughout the universe stood with his people and wept. Even then those who were comforters complained that Jesus failed.

Again, Jesus groaned within himself as they took him to the cave where Lazarus was buried. No one had any expectation or conviction or exercised faith in Jesus at the scene. He was unaffected by a hard heartedness of those surrounding him who were complaining about what they perceived as failure. They were complaining about the request of Jesus to remove the stone as they said there would be a very obnoxious smell coming forth. Jesus ignored the complaints and lack of belief by telling those nearby that if they believe they should see the glory of God. How powerful this is for our own lives! We can wallow in our own misery, or we can believe trusting in God so that we will see some type of miracle coming forth out of our own stockpile of hurts.

Jesus prayed a very simple prayer including a statement for those witnessing the events to believe. Then with a loud voice he shouted, “Lazarus, come forth.” No human effort and no human insistence had any value. We must step out of our realm of humanity believing in faith that Jesus knows and understands and will respond to what is happening in our lives. Lazarus came forth wrapped as a mummy. Jesus instructed those nearby to lose him from those grave clothes. Then Jesus said, “Let him go.” When God works a miracle, he does not expect us to breathe a sigh of relief and turn the channel on the  television. He expects us all to go forth as a witness with the joy of the Holy Spirit and the confidence in God that we learned.

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