On our journey through the Gospel of John we have seen Jesus perform many miracles. He changed water into wine, healed an official’s son over a great distance, put a man crippled 38 years back on his feet, fed more than 5,000 by multiplying 5 loaves of bread and 2 small fish, walked on water and gave sight to a man born blind. As impressive as these were, the greatest one was about to happen: Raising Lazarus from the dead.
Lazarus was the brother of Mary and Martha. The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was close to this family as evidenced in the message the sisters sent to Jesus informing Him of their brother’s plight: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:3 NIV)
If you are familiar with this account (and if not, I urge you to read John Chapter 11 in its entirety), you know that upon receiving the news of Lazarus’ condition Jesus delayed going to him for two days, though Bethany was only a short (less than 2 miles away) distance away.
When Jesus and His disciples do finally go to where these friends of Jesus lived, they find that Lazarus is already dead. John tells us this was the Lord’s plan all along as he explained to His confused disciples: So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe (John 11:14 NIV).
Upon arriving at Bethany, Jesus is met by Martha and then Mary, both grief-stricken not only at the loss of their brother, but also at Jesus late arrival.
As with the other recorded miracles of Jesus, there are a multitude of lessons we can glean from the giving of life back to Lazarus. Let’s look briefly at just three of them.
First, God’s timeline does not always match up with ours. Mary and Martha knew Jesus well. They had no doubt seen or heard what He had already done and were positive He could help their brother. I mentioned that Jesus delayed going to see them. As you read the rest of this account, you find that Lazarus had already been laid in the tomb for 4 days when Jesus does arrive. It is important to note that this was the amount of time required in those days to officially pronounce someone dead. By waiting, Jesus left no doubt that Lazarus had passed away, making the restoring of his life evidence of God’s power alone.
Secondly, the humanity of Jesus is in full view here. Mary, a distraught sister lay at the Lord’s feet weeping. Many of those who had been with the family also came out to see Jesus. The bible tells us that they were all weeping as well. As Jesus took this all in with great empathy, John simply tells us, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35 NIV). Despite all the fullness of deity within Him, Jesus is moved to deep sorrow by the pain He sees the sisters and the crowd suffering. Please consider this fact if at any time you might feel that Jesus does not feel the depth of your pain.
Lastly, the raising of Lazarus back to life is a snapshot of what God does for all those who put their faith in Jesus Christ. The picture cannot be any clearer: Without Jesus we are dead. When we hear His call to accept salvation, we too step out of the grave and into life with Him.
All the miracles Jesus performed are signs that were to point everyone to God. By restoring life to Lazarus as He neared the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus makes plain what He had ultimately come to do. He would soon give up His life for the salvation of many. The Lord takes our place, bearing the punishment for our sins that we might be saved. If you have not yet, please do not miss His heart for you when He calls you to life with Him.
Thanks for reading,