This marks a change in the gospel, Jesus had returned to Jerusalem to face his own death and began by demonstrating his power over death. What Jesus did for Lazarus serves as a model of what Jesus will do when … “in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. …. then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’” (1 Corinthians 15:52–54)
As the story began, Jesus delayed and didn’t immediately go to see the family. He waited. Many people in Jesus’ day believed the soul of the deceased lingered by the body for three days, not leaving until decomposition had become obvious. If Jesus had raised Lazarus after only one or two days, that could have been seen as the resuscitation of a person who was not fully dead. But leaving this until the fourth day, it was clear Lazarus was really dead, with no mistake about his vital signs and with the odour of decay quite obvious. That a miracle had really happened is seen in the response of Jesus’ opponents, ‘What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him … (John 11:47–48)
The miraculous sign happened with Jesus near the tomb and the stone rolled away. Jesus prayed, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’” (John 11:41–42) At earlier miracles the authorities had stated God would not, could not listen to Jesus because he was a “law breaker”. Jesus deals with this claim by making it obvious he is praying to God, and if the miracle happens, it is because God has heard and answered him.
Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth round his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’” (John 11:43–44)
The miraculous signs of Jesus, from turning water into wine to raising Lazarus from the dead all point to the fact that Jesus is the divine son of God. As the promised messiah he gave sight to the blind, healed the lame and raised the dead. As some of the crowd asked, ‘When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?’ (John 7:31)
For those open to his message and willing to see – God’s gift of life was found in Jesus … to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—” (John 1:12)
What do you learn about Jesus from this story?
If he really did raise Lazarus from the dead, what does that mean for you in life and in death?
Rev John Malcolm