G. Evidence of the resurrected (Jn 11:1-46):
The raising of Lazarus from the dead was to prove something greater than Jesus “practicing what He preached.” At the beginning of His ministry, He proclaimed, “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me, has everlasting life” (Jn 5:24). “The hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and will come forth” (Jn 5:28,29). By the time Jesus came to Bethany where His three friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus, lived, it was time for a demonstration of what He had been teaching in reference to eternal life.
When the death of Lazarus was initially reported to Jesus, it was time in the ministry of Jesus to reveal the power that was within His control. And when this power was released, He would accomplish the following: “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God might be glorified by it” (Jn 11:4).
At the time, the disciples seem to still be in a state of “unbelief” concerning the totality of who Jesus was. They had difficulty in bringing together all that He was. They had by this time in His ministry experienced a great deal. But raising the dead would certainly shock their thinking just before the conclusion of His earthly ministry. So Jesus said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go so that I may awake him out of sleep” (Jn 11:11). The disciples did not understand what He was saying. “Lord, if he sleeps,” they replied, “he will recover” (Jn 11:12). However, “Jesus spoke of his death. But they thought that He was speaking of taking rest in sleep” (Jn 11:13).
In order to increase their still inadequate faith, Jesus said to them, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there [when Lazarus died], so that you may believe” (Jn 11:15). Now Jesus has revealed the purpose for His raising of Lazarus from the dead. The resurrection was not only for the disciples to believe, but for us also, that we might believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Jn 20:31). Since only God can raise the dead, then they, as we, need to conclude that Jesus was and is Deity.
Upon His arrival to Bethany, Jesus said to Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (Jn 11:23). He continued, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he were dead, yet he will live” (Jn 11:25). This claim needed proof. It needed a demonstration. It was something about which Jesus had spoken throughout His ministry, and now it was the time to make good on His claim.
In the emotional build up to the main event, there was discussion, if not blame that if Jesus had been present, He could have healed Lazarus. But this would have been no grand finale of proof that He was the Son of God with all the supernatural power that is characteristic with Deity. His healing power had been substantiated by this time, for the people standing around said, “Could not this Man who opened the eyes of the blind have also kept this man from dying?” (Jn 11:37). The answer to the question would be YES! But the purpose for Jesus’ delay in coming to Bethany was to make sure that Lazarus was dead and buried, and thus, there would have been no temptation for Him to heal His friend from a sickness. It was time for a resurrection.
Therefore, with the commanding statement, “Lazarus, come forth,” the world was changed forever, and the power of the resurrection after the crucifixion of Jesus was made possible and real (Jn 11:43). All that Jesus had taught throughout His ministry concerning “words of life” found validation in these three words. Our hope in the Son of God finds meaning in the fact that Jesus had the power to be raised, and by the same power that raised Lazarus, we too would be raised.
By the resurrection of Lazarus, Jesus laid the foundation to give His disciples hope when He himself was laid in a tomb of death. Lazarus would be the proof that His own death would not be the end. Though after the cross the disciples may have momentarily forgotten the resurrection of Lazarus, they needed to know that the power that raised Lazarus did not come from the man Jesus, but from Him who remained in heaven. In His incarnate state in ministry, Jesus had control of the supernatural through the power of the Holy Spirit (See Lk 4:14).
Mary had complained, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (Jn 11:32). Physical presence in order that supernatural power be released still plagued the thinking of the disciples. Thus before Jesus cried out for the resurrection of Lazarus, He cried out to the Father, that the Father resurrect Lazarus in order “that they may believe that You have sent Me” (Jn 11:42). The power of the resurrection came from above, but only at the command of Jesus. We must not miss this point.
With the same power from heaven, Jesus was raised from the dead. Paul explained in writing,
I pray that the eyes of your heart be enlightened so that you may know … what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe … that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead … (Ep 1:18-21).
The same power that raised Lazarus from the dead, was the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It will be this same power that will raise us from the dead when Jesus comes again. All that Paul said in conclusion to this reality were the words of the Spirit, “Comfort one another with these words” (1 Th 4:18).
Therefore, we remember that “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His righteous saints” (Ps 116:15). We have thus been delivered by Him from the fear of death (Hb 2:14,15). Thank you, Jesus!
[End of Lesson 4]