The Revival of Lazarus


     The revival of Lazarus from the dead found in John 11:1-44 is incalculably rich in its display of power and truth for Jesus. It is an incredible story. It was not at all random. Its grandeur never even entered into the minds of the people present. No one had the wherewithal to ask Jesus for such a miracle. This man’s death was a pre-staged event for Christ’s glory down to every last detail. The Jews would later plot to kill Lazarus because, “…on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus,” John 12:11. We don’t know exactly how Jesus knew this family, but He did. Jesus received the following notice from the sisters of this man before he had died: “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick,” John 11:3b. The next verse is really astonishing. “When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was,” John 11:4-6. Huh? Did you catch that? He didn’t move. So, let me get this straight. Jesus heard that Lazarus was really sick. He was so sick that his sisters sent word to Him. Remember this wasn’t an email that got to Him on His blackberry the second they pressed send. These messengers had to track Him down on foot, so, after all that, when He got the message He didn’t go to them? Huh? Ok, go with me. Jesus absolutely must know that Lazarus, though still alive when word came to Him, was about to die! Otherwise, when He said, “This sickness is not unto death…” He was wrong. No, Jesus knew what was up. Jesus knew Lazarus was not going to stay dead, and so what He said, though beyond them all and only clear to us in hindsight, was absolutely true. Ultimately, this sickness would not be the end of Lazarus and Jesus alone knew it. Lazarus was sick. He was going to die, but he was not going to stay dead. Jesus knew that He was going to revive him after he died so, “…That the Son of God may be glorified…” Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, not dead. Scripture then says that He delayed His departure to go to them for two whole days. That’s a long time. You would think that a love so strong would cause Jesus to immediately depart. Martha thought so too, man. When Jesus finally arrived she said to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died,” John 11:21. Instead of coming to heal a sick man, which would itself be a miracle, Jesus had a more grandiose plan for glorifying Himself. Jesus was not going to heal a sick man; He was going to raise a dead man. Talk about a picture of redemption! Notice also that the Bible doesn’t say what Jesus and His disciples were doing while waiting. It just says they waited. Jesus waited until Lazarus died on purpose. He knew that He was dead before He left for Bethany. It’s interesting to note that no messengers are recorded to have brought Him this news, He just knew it. He said in vs. 14 that Lazarus was now dead. I tell you, his disciples must’ve had no clue what He was up to.

     Neither Lazarus (obviously) nor anyone else asked Jesus to revive him. In fact, from the account we can see that they had not even the slightest suspicion that He intended to do so. Jesus raised this man up without him or anyone else asking Him to. Lazarus’ only contribution to the situation was, as the KJV says, that he “stinketh,” John 11:39. Talk about a picture of humanity!

     Ever wondered why Jesus did some of the things He did? One angle to approach questions about such things is to consider them in precisely how He was to glorify Himself through that thing. Why did Jesus wait till Lazarus died? One answer: to demonstrate His power over death yet again.

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