Lazarus Raised

John 11:38-44 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said unto him, Lord, by this time he stink: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus said unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou would believe, thou should see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hear me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 

Jews generally cut their graves out of the faces of cliffs. The stone here did not lie upon the grave-opening but leaned against it. Lazarus has putrefactive odour by now for he has been dead four days.

‘Said I not unto thee, that, if thou would believe, thou should see the glory of God?’ This is nowhere stated before this, proving that the record is not complete of everything said on this occasion (John 21:25).

‘Lifted up his eyes’ Jesus looked up to heaven, having eyes open (Mat. 17:8; Luke 6:20; 16:23; John 4:35; 6:5; 17:1). ‘Father’ Fifteen times Christ used this name in prayer when He prayed unto the Father who was in Heaven (Mat. 11:25-26; 26:39, 42; Luke 23:34, 46; John 11:41; 12:27-28; 17:1, 5, 11, 21, 24-25). ‘Thou hast heard me’ this suggests that Christ had already prayed and was heard, receiving the will of God in this case before He started on His trip to Bethany (John 11:3-6). He was no doubt led by God to delay this trip as recorded here.

‘That they may believe that thou hast sent me’ There are 14 purposes of Christ’s miracles: To make believers (John 2:23; 4:48; 11:42; 12:37; 14:11); to fulfill prophecy (Isa. 11:2; 61:1-2; Mat.8:17; Luke 4:18) to demonstrate God’s will (John 5:30; 6:38; 10:10; Heb. 10:7); to destroy works of satan (Luke 13:16; Acts 10:38; 1Jn. 3:8); to give abundant life (John 10:10); to confirm His Sonship and Messianic claims (John 5:17-19, 30-36; 10:25, 36-38; 14:10-11; 15:24; 20:30-31; Acts 2:32); to confirm God’s Word and love (John 5:20; Heb. 2:3-4); to prove that God was with Him (John 3:2; Acts 10:38); to demonstrate God’s power over satan (Luke 10:19; 13:16; Mat. 12:28; Acts 10:38); to prove the kingdom of God present (Mat. 12:28); to glorify God (John 2:11; 11:4; Mat. 9:8; 15:31; Mark 2:12; Luke 4:15; 5:26; 7:16; 13:13); to set an example for all believers (Mat. 10:1-8; 28:20; Mark 6:7-13; Luke 9:6; 10:9; John17:18); to demonstrate the power of the Spirit baptism (Mat. 20:22-23; Luke 4:18; John 3:34); to demonstrate full salvation for body, soul, and spirit (Mat. 4:23-24; 8:17; 9:35; 13:15; John 10:10; 1Pet. 2:24; Isa. 53:4-5).

‘Cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth’ He spoke loud enough that all standing could hear the command and see that even the dead were subject to Him. Lazarus that had been dead came forth. ‘bound hand and foot with graveclothes’ This does not necessarily mean that his legs were bound together like a mummy, but bound separately, so he could not walk freely until loosed from the grave clothes or strips of linen.

Lazarus Sleeps

John 11:5-16 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that said he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goes thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumble not, because he sees the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he said unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 

‘Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus’ – this statement proofs that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus and that He was not neglecting His love, but awaiting the time to demonstrate greater love and power to them. Thus Jesus waited two more days after He was told of Lazarus and thereafter said to His disciples that they must go into Judaea again.

The disciples were worried because the Jews wanted to stone Jesus but Jesus explained that if any man walks in the day, he will not stumble because he sees the light of this world; but if he walks in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.

Jewish days are as follows: sunrise to sunset: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 12 equal parts, but they varied in length according to the season of the year (Matt. 20:3-12). The night was also divided into 12 equal parts or 4 watches of 3 equal parts or 3 hours each. The longest summer day would be about 14 hours and 12 minutes and the shortest 9 hours and 48 minutes.

Jesus then said to them that their friend Lazarus sleeps; and that He must go to wake Him from His sleep (referring here to death). The disciples took Lazarus’ sleep for rest and stated that he would get better if he rests. Jesus then said to them plainly that Lazarus was dead, indicating he died the day the messenger was sent. Jesus knew it by revelation.

Jesus was glad for their sakes that He was with Lazarus so that the disciples and others can believe in God. This miracle, like all others, was to confirm further His claims to His disciples that He was in reality the Messiah.

Introducing Thomas, called Didymus, or twin – it was customary for Jews to take a Greek or Latin name similar to their own when going to a foreign land or having much interaction with Greeks or Romans. He was one of the 12 apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13-14). Thomas said that they must risk their lives, and if need be, dies with Jesus. Jesus, through love of His friends in Bethany, exposed Himself to death by His implacable enemies in Jerusalem. Thomas thought it certain death to venture again to this city.

The Glory of God

John 11:1-4 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou love is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 

Lazarus means God helps. Lazarus was the brother of Mary and her sister Martha, who was ministers to Jesus (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:2) and friends of Him (John 11:5). This is not the same man as in Luke 16:19-31 who had died sometime before this Lazarus did.

Bethany (is called Eizariyya today) is a village on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, nearly three kilometres from Jerusalem. Jesus attended a feast here (Matt. 26:6-13) and the colt on which He rode into Jerusalem with, was from here (Mark 11:1-11).

This is the same Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. It does not prove she did this before this event. John is simply recording this many years later.

A messenger was ‘sent’ (Greek word apostello = to send a messenger) to say that Lazarus was weakening or sinking fast. They thought this would not fail to bring Him to them, but Christ by divine guidance had other plans.

Lazarus’s sickness was not unto death and corruption, but God will permit [allow, not cause it] a temporary death so that the glory of God can be manifest by a resurrection. This was the message sent back to the sisters. Jesus was only about 29 kilometres away.

Had Lazarus not been resurrected there would have been no glory to God. So today, God does not get glory out of sickness, but out of healing the sick. God may get some glory in spite of some sickness, but the sickness itself is no glory. Anyone, young or old, can certainly glorify God better and do more work for Him when well than when sick. Let no person be deceived in thinking he is sick for God’s glory, for there is no scriptural foundation for such modern fallacy.