The raising of Lazarus from the dead…

The Death of Lazarus…

Friend of the Family
“A true friend is one in whom we have confidence and to whom we will listen.”
— K. Alvin Pitt

GEOGRAPHICAL PROFILE:

BETHANY

Located on the east side of the Mount of Olives about two miles southeast of Jerusalem

Often called the Judean home of Jesus Hometown of Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Simon the Leper Located in the general area in which the ascension of Jesus took place

PERSONAL PROFILE:

MARY The name of at least five women in the New Testament

This chapter introduces Mary of Bethany who is mentioned also in Luke 10:42 and John 12

Commended for her personal worship

Hosted Jesus in her home

Grieved for her dead brother, Lazarus, along with her sister,

Mary Proclaimed her faith in the resurrection (John 11:27)

John 11

We do not always understand what God is saying or what He is doing.

And the most critical point of misunderstanding centers in what God has to say about life and death.

Yet this very point separates Christianity from all other religions and exalts God above every pretender.

If we miss His truth about life and death, we miss everything.

The Illness of Lazarus (11:1–4)

11:1 We now come to the last great miracle in the public ministry of the Lord Jesus.

In some senses, it was the greatest of all—the raising of a dead man.

Lazarus lived in the little village of Bethany, about two miles east of Jerusalem.

Bethany was also known as the home of Mary and her sister Martha.

Let it be noticed that the presence of God’s elect children is the one thing which makes towns and countries famous
in God’s sight.

The village of Martha and Mary is noticed, while Memphis and Thebes are not named in the New Testament.

11:2 John explains that it was that Mary of Bethany who had anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair.

This singular act of devotion was emphasized by the Holy Spirit.

The Lord loves the willing affection of His people.

11:3 When Lazarus took sick, the Lord Jesus was apparently on the east side of the Jordan River.

The sisters sent word to Him immediately that Lazarus, whom He loved, was sick.

There was something very touching in the way these sisters presented their case to the Lord.

They appealed to His love for their brother as a special argument why He should come and help.

11:4 When Jesus … said, “This sickness is not unto death,” He did mean that Lazarus would not die, but that death would not be the final outcome of this sickness.

Lazarus would die, but he would be raised again from the dead.

The real purpose of the sickness was the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.

God allowed this to happen so that Jesus would come and raise Lazarus from the dead, and thus be manifested again as the true Messiah.

Men would glorify God for this mighty miracle.

There is absolutely no suggestion that Lazarus’ sickness was a result of some special sin in his life.

Rather, he is presented as a devoted disciple and a special object of the Savior’s love.

Jesus’ Journey to Bethany (11:5–16)

11:5 When sickness enters our homes, we are not to conclude that God is displeased with us.

Here sickness was directly linked with His love rather than His anger.

“Whom He loves He chastens.”

11:6, 7 We would be apt to reason that if the Lord really loved these three believers, then He would drop everything and hurry to their home.

Instead, when He heard the news, He stayed two more days … where He was.

God’s delays are not God’s denials.

If our prayers are not answered immediately, perhaps He is teaching us to wait, and if we wait patiently, we will find that He will answer our prayers in a much more marvelous way than we ever anticipated.

Not even His love for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus could force Christ to act ahead of the proper time.

Everything He did was in obedience to His Father’s will for Him, and in keeping with the divine timetable.

After two days that might have seemed to be lost time, the Lord Jesus proposed to the disciples that they should all go to Judea again.

11:8 The disciples were still painfully aware of how the Jews sought to stone Christ after He had given sight to the blind man.

They expressed surprise that He would even think of going into Judea in the face of such personal danger.

11:9 Jesus answered them as follows: In the ordinary course of events, there are twelve hours of light in the day, when men can work.

As long as a man works during this allotted time, there is no danger of his stumbling or falling because he sees where he is going and what he is doing.

The light of this world, or daylight, keeps him from accidental death through stumbling.

The spiritual meaning of the Lord’s words is as follows: The Lord Jesus was walking in perfect obedience to the will of God.

There was thus no danger of His being killed before the appointed time.

He would be preserved until His work was done.

In a sense this is true of every believer. If we are walking in fellowship with the Lord and doing His will, there is no power on earth that can kill us before God’s appointed time.

11:10 The person who walks in the night is one who is not faithful to God, but is living in self-will.

This man stumbles easily because he does not have divine guidance to illuminate his pathway.

11:11 The Lord spoke of Lazarus’ death as sleep.

However, it should be noticed that in the NT sleep is never applied to the soul but only to the body.

There is no teaching in the Scripture that at the time of death, the soul is in a state of sleep.

Rather, the believer’s soul goes to be with Christ, which is far better.

The Lord Jesus revealed His omniscience in this statement.

He knew Lazarus had already died, although the report He had heard was that Lazarus was sick.

He knew because He is God.

While anybody may awaken another out of physical sleep, only the Lord could awaken Lazarus out of death.

Here Jesus expressed His intention of doing that very thing.

11:12 His disciples did not understand the Lord’s reference to sleep.

They did not realize that He was speaking of death.

Perhaps they believed that sleeping was a symptom of recovery, and they concluded that if Lazarus was able to sleep soundly, then he had passed the crisis and would get well.

The verse might also mean that if physical sleep were the only thing wrong with Lazarus, then there was no need to go to Bethany to help him.

It is possible that the disciples were fearful for their own safety and that they seized upon this excuse for not going to the home of Mary and Martha.

11:13, 14 Here it is clearly stated that when Jesus spoke of sleep, He was referring to death but that His disciples had not understood this.

There can be no misunderstanding. Jesus notified His disciples plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”

How calmly the disciples received the news!

They did not ask the Lord, “How do you know?”

He spoke with complete authority, and they did not question His knowledge.

11:15 The Lord Jesus was not glad that Lazarus had died, but He was glad He was not at Bethany at the time.

If He had been there, Lazarus would not have died.

Nowhere is it recorded in the NT that a person died in the presence of the Lord.

The disciples would see a greater miracle than the prevention of death.

They would see a man raised from the dead.

In this way, their faith would be strengthened.

Therefore, the Lord Jesus said that He was glad for their sakes that He had not been at Bethany.

He added, “that you may believe.”

The Lord was not implying that the disciples had not already believed on Him.

Of course they had! But the miracle they were about to see at Bethany would greatly strengthen their faith in Him.

Therefore, He urged them to go with Him.

11:16 “Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’ ”

Thomas reasoned that if the Lord Jesus went into that area, He would be killed by the Jews.

If the disciples went with Jesus, he was sure that they too would be killed.

And so in a spirit of pessimism and gloom, he urged them all to accompany Jesus.

His words are not an example of great faith or courage, but rather of discouragement.

Jesus: The Resurrection and the Life (11:17–27)

11:17, 18 The fact of Lazarus’ being in the grave for four days was added as proof that he was dead.

Notice how the Holy Spirit takes every precaution to show that the resurrection of Lazarus was really a miracle.

Lazarus must have died shortly after the messengers left to find Jesus.

It was a day’s journey from Bethany to Bethabara, where Jesus was.

After hearing of Lazarus’ illness, Jesus stayed two days.

Then it was a day’s journey to Bethany.

This explains the four days Lazarus was in the grave.

As noted previously, Bethany was about two miles (fifteen stadia) east of Jerusalem.

11:19 The nearness of Bethany to Jerusalem made it possible for many of the Jews to join the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them.

Little did they realize that in a short time their comfort would be entirely unnecessary and that this house of mourning would be turned into a house of great joy.

11:20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went out to meet Him.

The meeting took place just outside the village.

We are not told why Mary remained in the house. Perhaps she had not received the report of Jesus’ arrival.

Maybe she was paralyzed with grief, or was simply waiting in a spirit of prayer and trust.

Did she sense what was about to happen because of her closeness to the Lord? We do not know.

Then the Lord looked forward to the time when all true believers would be raised.

11:21 It was real faith that enabled Martha to believe that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying.

Still, her faith was imperfect. She thought He could only do this if He were bodily present.

She did not realize that He could heal a man from a distance, still less that He could raise the dead.

Often in times of sorrow, we talk like Martha. We think that if such and such a drug or medicine had been discovered, then this loved one would not have died.

But all these things are in the hands of the Lord, and nothing happens to one of His own without His permission.

11:22 Again the faith of this devoted sister shone out. She did not know how the Lord Jesus would help, but she believed that He would.

She had confidence that God would grant Him His request and that He would bring good out of this seeming tragedy.

However, even now, she did not dare to believe that her brother would be raised from the dead.

“Now 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 of God, God will give You.’ ”

The word which Martha used for “ask” is the word normally used to describe a creature supplicating or praying to the Creator.

It seems clear from this that Martha did not yet recognize the deity of the Lord Jesus.

She realized that He was a great and unusual Man, but probably no greater than the prophets of old.

11:23 In order to draw out her faith to greater heights, the Lord Jesus made the startling announcement that Lazarus would rise again.

It is wonderful to see how the Lord deals with this sorrowing woman and seeks to lead her step by step to faith in Himself as the Son of God.

11:24 Martha realized that Lazarus would rise from the dead some day, but she had no thought that it could happen that very day.

She believed in the resurrection of the dead and understood that it would happen in what she called “the last day.”

11:25 It is as if the Lord had said, “You do not understand Me, Martha.

I do not mean that Lazarus will rise again at the last day. I am God, and I have the power of resurrection and of life in My hand.

I can raise Lazarus from the dead right now, and will do it.”

This will take place when the Lord Jesus comes back again to take His people home to heaven.

At that time there will be two classes of believers.

There will be those who have died in faith, and there will be those who are living at His Return.

He comes to the first class as the Resurrection and to the second as the Life.

The first class is described in the latter part of verse 25—“He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

This means that those believers who have died before Christ’s coming will be raised from the dead.

The grave cannot separate Christ and His friends.

Other friends accompany us to the brink of the grave, and then they leave us.

Neither life nor death can separate from the love of Christ.

Bengel comments, “It is beautifully consonant with divine propriety, that no one is ever read of as having died while the Prince of Life was present.”

11:26 The second class is described in verse 26.

Those who are alive at the time of the Savior’s coming and who believe on Him shall never die.

They will be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, and taken home to heaven with those who have been raised from the dead.

What precious truths have come to us as a result of Lazarus’ death!

God brings sweetness out of bitterness and gives beauty for ashes.

Then the Lord pointedly asked Martha, to test her faith, “Do you believe this?”

11:27 Martha’s faith blazed out in noontime splendor.

She confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of God, whom the prophets had predicted was to come into the world.

And we should notice that she made this confession before Jesus had raised her brother from the dead and not afterwards!

Jesus Wept at Lazarus’ Tomb (11:28–37)

11:28, 29 Immediately after this confession, Martha rushed back into the village and greeted Mary with the breathless announcement,

“The Teacher has come, and is calling for you.”

The Creator of the universe and the Savior of the world had come to Bethany and was calling for her.

And it is still the same today.

This same wonderful Person stands and calls people in the words of the gospel.

Each one is invited to open the door of his heart and let the Savior in.

Mary’s response was immediate. She wasted no time, but rose quickly and went to Jesus.

11:30, 31 Now Jesus met Martha and Mary outside the village of Bethany.

The Jews did not know He was near, since Martha’s announcement of the fact to Mary had been a secret one.

It was not unnatural that they should conclude that Mary had gone out to the tomb to weep there.

11:32 Mary … fell down at the Savior’s feet.

It may have been an act of worship, or it may have been that she was simply overcome with grief.

Like Martha, she uttered the regret that Jesus had not been present in Bethany, for in that case, their brother would not have died.

11:33 To see Mary and her friends in sorrow caused Jesus to groan and to be troubled.

11:34 “And He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ ”

The Lord of course knew where Lazarus was buried, but He asked the question in order to awaken expectation, to encourage faith, and to call forth man’s cooperation.

Doubtless it was with deep earnestness and sincere desire that the mourners led the Lord to the grave.

11:35 “Jesus wept” Verse 35 is the shortest in the English Bible. It is one of the three instances in the NT where the Lord is said to have wept. (He wept in sorrow over the city of Jerusalem and also in the garden of Gethsemane.)

The fact that Jesus wept was an evidence of His true humanity.

The fact that Jesus wept in the presence of death shows it is not improper for Christians to weep when their loved ones are taken. However, Christians do not sorrow as others who have no hope.

11:36 The Jews saw in the tears of the Son of Man an evidence of His love for Lazarus.

Of course, they were correct in this. But He also loved them with a deep and undying love, and many of them failed to understand this.

11:37 Again the presence of the Lord Jesus caused questionings among the people.

Some of them recognized Him as the same One who had given sight to the blind man.

They wondered why He could not also have kept Lazarus from dying.

Of course, He could have done so, but instead He was going to perform a mightier miracle, which brought greater hope to believing souls.

The Raising of Lazarus (11:38–44)

11:38 It would seem that Lazarus’ tomb was a cave under the earth, into which one would have to descend by means of a ladder or a flight of stairs.

A stone was placed on top of the mouth of the cave.

It was unlike the tomb of the Lord Jesus in that the latter was carved out of rock and a person could doubtless walk into it, as into the side of a hill, without climbing or descending.

11:39 Jesus commanded the onlookers to take away the stone from the mouth of the grave.

He could have done this Himself by merely speaking the word.

However, God does not ordinarily do for men what they can do for themselves.

Martha expressed horror at the thought of opening the grave.

She realized that her brother’s body had been there for four days and feared that it had begun to decompose.

Apparently, no attempt had been made to embalm the body of Lazarus.

He would have been buried the same day on which he died, as was the custom then.

The fact that Lazarus was in the grave for four days was important.

There was no possibility of his being asleep or in a swoon.

All the Jews knew that he was dead.

His resurrection can only be explained as a miracle.

11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

It is not clear when Jesus had spoken these words of verse 40.

In verse 23, He had told her that her brother would rise again.

But doubtless what He here said was the substance of what He had previously told her.

Notice the order in this verse, “Believe … see.”

It is as if the Lord Jesus had said, “If you will just believe, you will see Me perform a miracle that only God could perform.

You will see the glory of God revealed in Me. But first you must believe, and then you will see.”

John stresses that God cares for us.

When Jesus saw the weeping and wailing, He, too, wept openly.

Perhaps He empathized with their grief, or perhaps He was troubled at their unbelief or at death’s destructive grip.

Whatever the case, Jesus showed that He cares enough for us to weep with us in our sorrow.

Here we see many of Jesus’ emotions—compassion, indignation, anger, sorrow, and even frustration.

In His life on earth He often expressed deep emotion, and we must never be afraid to reveal our true feelings to Him.

He understands them, for He experienced them.

Be honest, and don’t try to hide anything from your Savior. He cares.
____

Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

John 11:1–57

Jesus traveled from villages beyond the Jordan River to Bethany to raise Lazarus from the dead.

Bethany was about two miles east of Jerusalem, and this miracle attracted the attention of many people, including the chief priests and Pharisees.

As a result, the people welcomed Him into Jerusalem like a king, but the Pharisees sought to kill Him.

Jesus knew Lazarus would die, but He showed His power by raising him from the dead.

Before seeing Him perform this great miracle, however, we see that Jesus was sensitive to grief and pain.

Have you been there?

Have you been called to stand at the thin line that separates the living from the dead?

Have you lain awake at night listening to machines pumping air in and out of your lungs?

Have you watched sickness corrode and atrophy the body of a friend?

Have you lingered behind at the cemetery long after the others have left, gazing in disbelief at the metal casket that contains the body that contained the soul of the one you can’t believe is gone?

If so, then this canyon is not unfamiliar to you. . . . Standing on the edge of the canyon draws all of life into perspective.

What matters and what doesn’t are easily distinguished. . . . It is possible that I’m addressing someone who is walking the canyon wall. . . . If this is the case, please read the rest of this piece very carefully.

Look carefully at the scene described in John 11.

John 11:1
In this scene there are two people: Martha and Jesus.

And for all practical purposes they are the only two people in the universe.

Her words were full of despair. “If you had been here. . . .”

She stares into the Master’s face with confused eyes. . . . Lazarus was dead.

And the one man who could have made a difference didn’t.

He hadn’t even made it for the burial. . . .

You see, if God is God anywhere, He has to be God in the face of death.

Pop psychology can deal with depression.

Pep talks can deal with pessimism.

Prosperity can handle hunger.

But only God can deal with our ultimate dilemma—death.

And only the God of the Bible has dared to stand on the canyon’s edge and offer an answer. . . . Jesus then made one of those claims that place Him either on the throne or in the asylum:

“Your brother will rise and live again” (v. 23).

Martha misunderstood. (Who wouldn’t have?)

“I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (v. 24).

That wasn’t what Jesus meant. . . .

Imagine the setting: Jesus has intruded on the enemy’s turf; He’s standing in Satan’s territory,

Death Canyon. His stomach turns as He smells the sulfuric stench of the ex-angel, and He winces as He hears the oppressed wails of those trapped in the prison.

Satan has been here. He has violated one of God’s creations.

With His foot planted on the serpent’s head, Jesus speaks loudly enough that His words echo off the canyon walls.

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.

And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.

Do you believe this?” (vv. 25, 26). . . . Life confronts death—and wins!

The wind stops. A cloud blocks the sun and a bird chirps in the distance while a humiliated snake slithers between the rocks and disappears into the ground.

But Jesus isn’t through with Martha.

With eyes locked on hers He asks the greatest question found in Scripture, a question meant as much for you and me as for Martha.

“Do you believe this?” . . . This is a canyon question. . . . For then we must face ourselves as we really are: rudderless humans tail-spinning toward disaster.

And we are forced to see Him for what He claims to be: our only hope.

(From God Came Near by Max Lucado)

Are there ways to imitate Jesus’ care and compassion for others in times of deep hurt?

Responding to grief with your own emotion offers greater comfort than words.
____

Saturday, August 6, 2022
Heartlight

WHAT JESUS DID

“FAITH IN THE MIDST OF LOSS”

“Then [Martha] returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.” So Mary immediately went to him. Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him “
— John 11:28-30 NLT

Key Thought
I love the faith of this Mary and Mary Magdalene.

Jesus will still be Mary Magdalene’s Lord even after he is placed in the tomb and all appears to be lost (later in the Gospel of John).

[1] And for Mary in our verses today, Jesus is still her hope, even though her brother Lazarus has died.

She believes Jesus could have prevented it.

[2] These women may not have had all the answers to all of their important questions, but they knew the one who is The Answer.

While life will deal us some misfortunes and Satan will do what he can to wound and destroy us, don’t let the confusion of the moment steal your faith that Jesus is The Answer.

We will not have answers to all of our questions, but we do have The Answer to the biggest one:

Who assures my relationship with God, both now and forevermore? Jesus!

[1] John 20:1-2.
[2] John 11:32.

Today’s Prayer
Gracious and loving Father, please give me the faith of these two Marys. I want to keep believing in Jesus as my Lord no matter what happens in my life or what confusing issues cloud my mind. Jesus, in those difficult or confusing moments, I ask that you make your presence very real in my life, not just for my benefit, but so that those around me can know your glory. Amen.

Related Scripture Readings
John 20:1-2
John 6:66-69
John 20:30-31
____

Come join the Adventure!

Skip 🕊️

Author: SPARKS FROM THE ANVIL OF LIFE

This is an open forum where we look into and investigate the Rhema Mysteries of God's Word; and also other issues of importance for our day and time.

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