Lazarus Raised From The Dead
I. The very remarkable thing about this miracle is that it was performed for the sole benefit of Jesus’ followers.
A. Jesus performed miracles so the unbelieving Jews would know he came from God Almighty, that he was the messiah, their Saviour and redeemer.
1. John 9 – The man that was blind from birth, who was lost, was healed so he could be a witness, as a lost person, to the unbelieving Jews.
2. Some history of the miracle of John 9.
a. John 6:22-71 – After Jesus walks on the water, recorded in John 6:16-21, Jesus speaks to the multitude, who want to make him king, and declare to them they really don’t understand who he is, what he came to do, or the real eternal kingdom he has come to establish.
b. John 7:1 states that Jesus walked no more in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.
1.) “Jewry” is the land of Judah.
2.) This verse doesn’t mean Jesus never appeared again in Judah, because he did, rather that he went into Galilee, staying until John 7:9.
c. John 7:10-53 – Jesus went to the feast of Tabernacles at Jerusalem, where the taught in the temple, was questioned, and refused to display himself to the unbelieving Jews.
d. John 8:1-11 – Jesus again teaches in the temple, where the scribes and Pharisees bring him a woman taken in the act of adultery, desiring to expose Christ as a fraud, who disregards the law of Moses.
e. John 8:12-59 – Jesus teaches concerning his coming death, burial and resurrection, and his eternal relationship with his father, but is rejected of the Jews, reflected in John 8:59 when they attempt to stone him.
f. John 9:1 – As Jesus leaves the temple, easily passing by his accusers, he passes a man which was blind from his birth.
1.) There are many unbelievers, who completely reject and would kill Christ.
2.) There are many believers who do not understand why things happens as they happen.
3.) There are still many unbelievers who do not know who Christ is.
4.) There are still many people who need the healing hand of Christ.
2. Christ was very gracious to the unbelieving Jews, but he is also very gracious to his followers.
a. It must be noted that this miracle is about some of the closest followers of Christ.
1.) This miracle did not happen directly to the apostles or other of the close followers of Christ.
2.) You and I are not an apostle, and we might not be considered a leader in the church we are a member of, but Christ is very concerned about us, that we learn to believe in Jesus, and trust in Jesus.
b. Luke 7:36-38 explains John 11:2, which speaks of Mary anointing the feet with the alabaster box of ointment, and weeping and wiping his feet with her hair.
1.) Mary loved Christ very much, therefore she wept when in his presence.
2.) It was enough for her to be in Jesus’ presence, she needed no miracle to convince her he was the only begotten son of God.
3.) John 12:3 explains that Mary once again anointed Christ with spikenard, in preparation for his burial.
a.) At this anointing, Mary anoints Christ for a different truth than the first anointing.
b.) The first anointing came from a thankful heart, while the second anointing came from a sorrowful heart, as she looked toward the burial.
c.) Lazarus, who was raised from the dead in John 11 is present when the second anointing occurs.
B. Believers have a great need to truly believe, and not be superficial believers, or be only doctrinally sound.
1. I John 5:13 states, These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
2. There is more to this kind of believing than simply going to church services, and casual praying and Bible reading.
3. The kind of believing Christ wants us to have is the belief that motivates us to proper spiritual action.
C. John 10:22 – Jesus was at Jerusalem, about 1.5 miles from Bethany, where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived.
1. John 10:39-42 – Jesus left Jerusalem and went to where John baptized at the first, which according to John 1:28 was Bethabara, about 20 miles east of Jerusalem.
a. Jesus had to go past Bethany to go to Bethabara.
b. Jesus probably received word about Lazarus after he had passed through Bethany.
2. Jesus could have easily traveled back from Bethabara to Bethany to heal Lazarus.
a. Jesus could have kept Lazarus from getting sick in the first place.
b. Jesus could have healed Lazarus from Bethabara, without even traveling to Bethany.
3. There are some things we can only learn by going through a terrible experience.
a. We should not think we have a lack of faith when we must experience bad things in order to learn.
b. Going through bad things teaches us that God is always in control, and that he wants us to learn that which we could never learn without the bad things happening.
II. Verse 3 – Mary and Martha did not ask Jesus to come, they merely sent word to him that Lazarus was sick.
A. Jesus always knows what he is doing, whether we understand it or not.
B. Mary and Martha did not understand why Jesus had not come.
1. Mary and Martha did not want their brother to die, but did not ask Jesus to come heal him, or keep him from dying.
2. It seems to me they expected Jesus to come without being asked, which is not a good thing to do.
C. Verse 8 and verse 16 – The disciples thought Jesus refused to go close to Jerusalem because of fear of the Jews.
1. The word “thou” implies that the disciples were not going to go with Christ to Bethany.
a. Verse 16 records that Thomas stated, …Let us also go, that we may die with him.
b. The Bible never calls Thomas “Doubting Thomas”.
c. In John 20:24-25, Thomas is not doubting, but wants assurance concerning the resurrection of Christ.
2. Verse 30 – Jesus did not go into Bethany, but remain outside the city.
a. Those Jews that came to comfort Mary and Martha concerning their brother and remained in the city did not see the miracle of Lazarus coming from the grave.
b. Only those Jews that came to comfort Mary saw the miracle.
3. Verse 9 and 10 – Jesus answers their fears by stating if the will of God is known and constantly followed, there is light, and there is no stumbling.
a. Jesus knows he is following the will of his Father, therefore he is not afraid of what the Jews are going to try to do to him.
b. When we know we are following the will of God, we will not be afraid of what men will do to us.
III. Different people react differently at different times.
A. Luke 10:38-42 records the time that Martha invited Jesus into her home, but Mary did not help her serve, instead sat at the feet of Jesus to listen to his teaching.
1. Luke 10:38-42 occurs before John 11.
2. It appears that Martha learned from the rebuke of Christ and in John 11:20 went immediately to Jesus when she heard he had come.
3. I do not know if Mary knew that Jesus was come when Martha went to him, but it seems she did.
a. John 11:20 states that Mary sat in the house while Martha went to Jesus, indicating she knew Jesus had come.
b. It is very likely both Mary and Martha were hurt or, at the least, confused when Jesus did not come when told of Lazarus’ sickness.
c. Mary handled the difficulty differently than Martha.
B. In Luke 10:38-42, Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching, but perhaps that teaching didn’t help her during times of stress.
1. I certainly do not want to put Mary down by anything I say.
2. In John 11:28,29, it seemed Mary needed a little extra push to go to Jesus.
a. The Bible does not say that Jesus asked Martha about Mary, but it is likely he did, as it is doubtful to me that Martha would lie about such a thing.
b. It is also possible that Martha telling Mary that Jesus was asking for her was secret, or private, as there were many people gathered around.
IV. Verse 20 – Apparently, Martha was able to “sneak” out of the house without being seen.
A. In Verse 28,29 – When Mary heard about Jesus coming (when Martha told her), she arose up quickly, which was noticed, and many followed her thinking she was going to the tomb to weep there.
1. I do not believe Martha lied to Mary about Jesus wanting to see her.
2. I believe the Bible doesn’t give all the narrative, because all the narrative isn’t necessary.
B. Who told Martha?
1. I do not know, the Bible does not say.
2. The person who told Martha apparently did not tell anybody else, even Mary.
V. Why did Jesus allow Lazarus to die?
A. Jesus is not being cruel.
B. Jesus is not being cruel when “bad” things happen to us that he could have stopped.
1. All these things teach us to ask Jesus for what we want, and not expect him to know without us asking.
2. All these things teach us to wait patiently on him.
3. Things often don’t turn out the way we think they should.
C. Both Mary and Martha believed Jesus could have kept Lazarus from dying, but did not understand that Jesus could raise him from the dead.
1. Jesus wants us to understand he is God of the impossible.
a. He can do more than we can ever ask or think.
b. We must learn to leave everything to him, and not take our burdens on ourselves, because they will become too heavy for us, but they are never too heavy for him.
2. Verse 21-22 – Martha states she believes Christ could have kept Lazarus from dying, and even though she is disappointed, she still believes in Christ.
a. Both Mary and Martha tell Christ their brother would not have died if he had been there.
1.) Compare verse 21 to verse 32.
2.) Both Mary an Martha are close enough to Jesus to be able to tell him what is on their heart.
b. Martha is like us, she is in confusion about the events of Lazarus’ death, but still wants to completely trust Christ.
c. Martha is not putting any limitations on Christ, but completely yielding herself to God and his will.
1.) Being a believer does not shield us from the evil that comes.
2.) Being a believer gives us hope in Christ.
3. Verse 23-27 – Believing doctrinal truths is different from believing that Jesus is the source of our strength and eternal help.
a. In verse 23, when Jesus informs Mary that Lazarus will rise again, he is not referring to the resurrection at the last day, but that is all Martha can think about.
1.) She has the doctrines down perfect, as she relates in verse 24, but she does not believe Jesus is the resurrection.
2.) Martha not understanding or believing that Jesus is the resurrection does not mean she is lost, but means she has not yet gained the complete trust in Christ that she should.
b. In verse 25 and 26, Jesus speaks to the very soul of Martha, explaining that he is the resurrection, and he is not just a doctrine.
1.) Jesus directs Martha’s thoughts to the heart of this miracle, which she shall soon see for herself.
2.) All the doctrines of the Bible are absolutely nothing if Christ is not the center and focus of all those doctrines.
3.) Christ ends his tiny lecture by asking, …Believest thou this?
a.) Jesus is not asking Martha if she is saved.
b.) He is asking this saved woman if she believes in Christ, as stated in I John 5:13.
4. Verse 28-29 – Directly after Martha told Christ she believed him to be the Son of God, she left to speak to Mary.
a. We can all say that both Mary and Martha should have gone to Christ when he first came, but it is wrong to justify ourselves by criticizing Mary.
b. Our part is to help those that need help, as Martha helped Mary by encouraging her to come to Christ.
c. Mary now comes to Christ.
1.) Her approach to Christ is entirely different from Martha’s.
2.) Mary seems to be more the spiritual type of person, while Martha is the systemic type of person.
5. Verse 31-32 – Mary could do nothing but state that Jesus could kept her brother from dying, then she began to weep.
a. When Mary came to Christ, she fell at his feet, while the Bible doesn’t record Martha did that.
b. Note that Mary wept before Christ, but Martha did not.
c. Also note that Martha came to Christ, but Mary did not.
d. Did grief keep her from Christ?
VI. Verse 33 – Jesus groaned.
A. The word in the Greek indicates that Christ snorted with anger.
1. People have different opinions about what Christ is angry about.
2. Some may not think he is angry, but grieving.
3. Verse 35-36 – Some believe Jesus is weeping because he loved Lazarus so much, but I believe Jesus wept because of the unbelief of the people.
B. It seems to me that Jesus groaned within himself (that is – within his person as being God) because of the unbelief of the people and their sorrow at their present circumstance.
1. Jesus groaned because all the people could see was what was in front of them.
2. They could not see nor make application of spiritual truths to their present life.
3. So it is with us.
4. I am sure God is often grieved with us because we have no idea of what he is doing.
VII. Verse 39 – Why did Jesus command them to take away the stone?
A. For the same reason Jesus asked in verse 34 …Where have ye laid him?
1. Jesus knows where Lazarus is buried, but he always wants his people to do what they can.
2. Jesus will always do what his believers and followers cannot do.
B. If Jesus could raise the dead, could he not remove the stone?
1. Jesus could remove the stone, or he could have brought Lazarus forth through the stone.
2. Jesus wants the people to do what they can, just as he wants us to do what we can.
3. What we cannot do, Jesus will do the rest.
C. Jesus also commanded the people to loose Lazarus from his grave clothes.
1. Jesus could have removed the grave clothes at the time he brought him back to life, but he did not.
2. Jesus could have brought Lazarus forth fully clothed, but he did not.
3. Jesus wants us to do what we can.
4. What we cannot do, Jesus will do the rest.
D. Martha reveals she does not understand that Jesus is the resurrection.
1. She does not know what Christ is going to do, therefore thinks it is necessary to inform him of that which he already knows.
2. In verse 41, Jesus reminds Martha of their conversation of verse 26, then continues with his miracle.
VIII. Verse 41 – The people obey Christ, even though they do not understand the end result.
A. This is also a good thing for us to do.
1. It is always good to obey God and let him take care of the results.
2. God will never do anything wrong or against us or hurtful to us.
B. Jesus prays audibly to his Father, for the benefit of those standing by.
1. Mary and Martha and some Jews are standing by, watching the scene.
2. Jesus wants all of them to believe that God the Father has sent him.
a. As related in verse 45, may of the Jews became believers in Christ because of this miracle.
b. As related in verse 46, some of the Jews were not believers, but went to the Pharisees, informing them of the resurrection of Lazarus.
1.) It is amazing to me that a person can see a miracle such as this, and not believe in Christ.
2.) When a person is blind, they are blind.
3.) It is not miracles that open the eyes of the blind, but the power of God.
4.) The only way any person can be saved is by the eye-opening power of God, and his revealing himself to them.
IX. Verse 47-53 – the end result.
A. The chief priest and Pharisees formed a committee to kill Christ.
1. They cannot stop the miracles Christ is performing, nor can they explain them away.
2. They are afraid the Roman government will come and take away their place and nation.
B. Caiaphas, being the high priest that year, hates Christ and desires him to die, and informs the Jews they should kill Christ.
1. He is the high priest that year, and does not understand he is prophesying that Jesus should die for the nation of Israel, and for the entire world.
2. Verse 53 states that from that time forth, the Jews took advice concerning killing Christ.
3. For this reason, Christ ceased to walk openly among the Jews, but remained in Ephraim with his disciples.
C. It must be understood that John 12:1, …six days before the passover… is speaking about the Passover when Christ will be crucified.
1. Christ will soon leave his disciples: not be physically with them.
2. Christ is not physically with us today.
3. Christ wanted his disciples to believe he is the resurrection, because they would need that belief when he was not physically with them.
4. As Christ is not with us physically, we need to believe Christ is the resurrection.
a. It is not enough to believe the doctrine that Christ is the resurrection, we must believe he is the resurrection.