After my series on the parables, I found I was drawn to look into the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels. I have never studies the mighty works of Jesus as a focused effort before and am looking forward to finding nuggets of truth that we can be encouraged by.
I have provided a general introduction, with an opportunity to download two files for your reference in my initial post Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction. I found that the format I used for the parable posts were useful to keep me on track, and will continue to use them for this series, with some minor tweaks. With that said, let’s take a look at
Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him,
Talk about not getting it. I have provided the full narrative for the miracle of Lazarus coming back from the dead for the sake of describing the communication problems Jesus was facing. Consider the misunderstandings simmering in the folks associated in the recounting of the raising of Lazarus. Remember – this confusion is with those who want to understand the Messiah.
- Lazarus is ill (v3)
- Lazarus’ illness does not lead to death
- Jesus stays away for two days.
- Yet Lazarus dies
- Don’t you understand? God’s glory is the purpose – his death is a side issue!
- Jesus decides to go to Judea (v7)
- The Jews are trying to kill you.
- A description of walking in light and not stumbling
- Don’t you understand? – Walk in the light (death is not a factor!)
- This response from the Lord must have been very confusing to the disciples.
- Lazarus has fallen asleep – I go to waken him. (v11)
- Why go? we will die and the sleep will be beneficial to Lazarus.
- Lazarus has died.
- Ok, so why go now? He has died, and we will be in danger now without any benefit to anyone.
- Don’t you understand? His death will feed your faith.
- By now the disciple’s heads must have been spinning!
- You could have prevented His death (v 21) – Martha
- Martha, in the midst of her grief, expresses disappointment in His delay, and why He arrived then.
- Jesus teaches Martha that her “brother will rise again”
- Martha assumes the general resurrection.
- Don’t you understand? Lazarus’ specific immediate resuscitation is offered.
- Everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.
- Another bomb in the discussion (never die?), yet Martha simply confesses Him to be the Messiah.
- Don’t you understand? The Messiah will work today!
- You could have prevented His death (v 32) – Mary
- Where is his body?
- Take away the stone
- There will be an odor due to death
- Don’t you understand – You will see the glory of God
- You could have prevented His death (v 37) – Crowd
- His abilities of preventing death have become an expectation, even by some in the crowd.
- Don’t you understand? The crowds expectations will be exceeded!
- Lazarus exits the tomb
Questions to Consider
Who were the audience?
The disciples, the sisters of the deceased and the crowd. All of them, as they watched the Master, asked Him questions, and tried to understand, yet fell into confusion and misunderstandings. Confusion and internal questioning must have been the general sense of the crowd right up to Lazarus walking out of the tomb.
This reminds me of the current state of our walk with the Lord. So many ways of looking at the Word and so many opinions of His follower get in the way. When He speaks, performing an action that is undeniable, it does not always answer all our questions. The confusion is often overtaken by simply seeing the bigger picture. But I am getting ahead of myself
When did the Lord perform this mighty work?
Where did the Lord perform this mighty work?
See Signs and Mighty Works of Jesus – Introduction for downloadable reference file.
Why did the Lord perform this mighty work?
Jesus gives us the motivation of this miracle in verse 4. It is for the glory of God and that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
I sometimes wonder if I understand what glory is. I often think of glory as a “bright shining” emanating from the person who is glorified, and that may be correct. Yet in this instance, as Jesus tells us of the glory that will be exhibited through the miracle, there is no witness in the gospels of any shining face on Jesus, or any extra light coming from the heavens.
So to be glorified in this passage may have an alternate meaning. As I do a little digging, I find that to be glorified may include the concepts of opinion and reputation. To be glorified speaks of those impacted by this miracle as changing their opinion, of His reputation growing in the minds of the crowd and of the disciples. To be glorified is to be thought of in a higher, greater way than before, to be lifted up in one’s opinion of the One glorified as to His true status, abilities, person.
This is very pertinent to those of us who say we are followers, for we are to be on a journey of discovery, of growing in our opinion of His person, of His abilities, of His character. This, in a small way, is what glorifies the Son of God.
This resuscitation (not technically a resurrection in the manner of Jesus’ resurrections, for Lazarus will die again) was the capstone of His miracles by this time in His ministry. None of His previous miracles raised one from the dead after so long of a period of time. And none of His miracles set off the Jewish leadership into making specific plans to get rid of this troublemaker!
One fallout from this miracle was that for Jesus to be glorified in this act also brought about His eventual death. Which would also glorify Him!
Is there no stopping this Messiah?
What was the message for the original audience?
As mentioned above, the messages prior to the miracle seemed to be “lost in translation” to the hearers for the most part. Either the messages were completely misunderstood, watered down, or no response was supplied. Numerous teaching efforts were recorded, and yet the miracle is what spoke loudly to those in attendance.
The message was seen in this instance, supporting His oral teaching earlier. He is the resurrection and the life. Personally, individually, and in dependence on the Father, Jesus called Lazarus from the grave, and Lazarus obeyed. Whatever or however the audience understood His teaching became a secondary issue to the fact that this miracle glorified God and the Son.
What is the message for us today?
It is easy to complain about the condition of the modern church, and this post is not intending to repeat oft mentioned issues we face as believers in the modern era. Yet the message from this miracles seems to be so obvious for me that I cannot resist from seeking to encourage those who are seeking to follow Him, to also focus on Him.
He is the resurrection. He is the life. Our petty doctrines that divide, our opinions that keep us apart, our different understandings of the Bible must be seen for what they are. At best, instructions and directions to the Master Himself, and at worst, the distraction and walls we build to become a divided church, each of us saying we own the Master, and throwing darts at our brothers.
He is Lord, and not our opinions. Priorities are critical in this instance. Worship Him, and Him only, for He is good, and He is good all the time!
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