“Again-Rising And Life” ( John 11:25, WYC ) by Carley Evans


English: Raising of Lazarus by Jesus

Jesus speaks in analogy or parable quite often, but before asking Lazarus to wake up from death and come out of the tomb, He tells Martha, Lazarus’ sister: “I am again rising and life; he that believeth in me, yea, though he be dead, he shall live.” Jesus does not tell Martha a story meant to represent something else; rather, He tells her the truth – that He is eternal; that, despite death, He lives forever; that, belief in Him results in this same eternal life.

Don’t you wonder how Jesus stays out of the pits where the lepers live? How is it no one throws Him in with those society hates? Well, yes, His neighbors do attempt toss Him over a cliff; but in general, especially today, Jesus is called “a great teacher.” A great teacher? Jesus is not a great teacher if He is not God. He claims to be God, the One and Only God. Jesus either tells us the truth – that He is God – or He’s crazy. Why does anyone listen to an insane man?

Jesus gains the ears of modern theologians – who may or may not believe in His divinity –  because He demonstrates God’s glory and displays God’s power of “again-rising and life.”

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“In Everlasting Worlds” ( Isaiah 26:4, WYC ) by Carley Evans


The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Rich Man and Lazarus (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

How many everlasting worlds are there? I think the Biblical answer is 2. One is heaven; the other is hell. All other worlds are temporary and fading. Isaiah writes:

“Ye have hoped in the Lord, in everlasting worlds, in the Lord God, strong without end. (Yea, hope ye in the Lord, forever, in the Lord God, who shall be strong forever.)”

Do those in hell – in that everlasting world – “hope in the Lord God, strong without end?”

Remember the story of the rich man who, while on the earth in the temporary and fading world, ignores the needs of Lazarus, the beggar? Remember when the rich man – who has lived in comfort – dies, he sees Lazarus and Abraham in heaven while he languishes, buried in hell? He begs that Abraham send Lazarus to dip a finger in cool water to reduce the hot dryness of his tongue. But Abraham tells the rich man the truth. There is a large gulf of darkness between heaven and hell, and no one can reach across it. The rich man finally thinks of others. He begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his living relatives to warn them. But Abraham says that even if a man rises from the dead, his brothers will not listen to Him since they obviously ignore the prophets.

All people hope in the Lord even if they don’t realize it while they are alive.

“Take Away The Stone” ( John 12: 12 – 15, NEB ) by Carley Evans


After raising Lazarus from the dead — the very next day, in fact — Jesus heads towards Jerusalem to celebrate the Jewish Passover. Pilgrims who heard of the resurrection “come out to meet [Jesus], shouting, ‘Hosanna [Save!] Blessings on Him who comes in the Name of the Lord!'”

“The people present when [Jesus] called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead tell what they saw and heard. That is why the crowd goes to meet Him; they heard of this sign He performed.” (John 12:17-18)

In raising Lazarus, Jesus demonstrates His power is equivalent to the power of God, the Father. And, Jesus shows us emerging from the grave is possible, even before His own resurrection. Jesus says to Martha, Lazarus’ sister, “‘Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?'” (John 11:40-41) while commanding, “‘Take away the stone.'” (John 11:39)

“The man who loves himself is lost.” (John 12:25) “A grain of wheat remains a solitary grain unless it falls into the ground and dies; but if it dies, it bears a rich harvest.” (John 12:24)

Jesus rides the colt of a donkey into Jerusalem. He says, “‘Now My soul is in turmoil, and what am I to say? Father, save Me from this hour? No, it was for this that I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name.’ A voice sounds from heaven: ‘I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.'” (John 12:27-29)

“Death Defying Feat” ( John 11: 25, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Jesus says, ‘ I Am the resurrection and I Am life. If a man has faith in Me, even though he die, he shall come to life; and no one who is alive and has faith shall ever die.’ “

 

Here Jesus does seem to be saying that with a proper amount of faith, one need not die. And of course, since Jesus says that faith as small as a mustard seed can accomplish the placement of a mountain into the sea, it does seem possible to forestall or perhaps completely eliminate death.

 

Nevertheless, in this context, we find Jesus comforting Martha, who has just lost her brother Lazarus to the grave. Martha has confirmed to her Lord that she knows He can ask anything of God the Father and it will be done. She also acknowledges that Lazarus will rise “at the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24) Jesus tells her that she need not wait. Lazarus will rise from the dead now. Jesus confirms His power over death; that the grave is incapable of holding those who belong to Christ.

 

Mary, the sister of Martha, also acknowledges that if Jesus had been present, Lazarus would never have died.

Seeing Mary’s sadness, Jesus weeps for her, for Martha, for Lazarus and I do believe for Himself — for He has lost a good friend and brother.

 

Jesus commands that the stone be removed; then He prays. “Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40) He commands Lazarus to “Come forth.” (John 11:43) Lazarus obeys, walking out of his grave.

 

Jesus commands, “Loose him; let him go.” (John 11:44) Death releases its captive.

“In Accord With God’s Will” (1 John 5: 14, NEB) by Carley Evans


“We can approach God with confidence for this reason: if we make requests which accord with His will He listens to us; and if we know that our requests are heard, we know also that the things we ask for are ours.”

Lazarus falls ill.

Martha sends a message to Jesus, telling Him that His friend, Lazarus is sick. Jesus knows that “this illness will not end in death; [but] has come for the glory of God.” (John 10: 4) Therefore, He deliberately waits two days.

Lazarus dies.

Mary stays at home. Martha seeks Jesus, saying: “If You had been here, sir, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will grant You.”

Jesus promises Lazarus will rise again.

Martha tells Mary that Jesus is looking for her.

Mary – who Jesus forgives much, so that she loves much — comes to the place where Jesus is. When she sees Him, she falls at His feet and testifies: “O sir, if you had only been here my brother would not have died.” Mary and her companions are weeping.

Jesus weeps.

Jesus says, “Do I not tell you that if you have faith you see the glory of God?” (John 11: 41)

The stone is rolled away, and Jesus raises His dead friend with a “great cry: ‘Lazarus, come forth.’ ”

The confidence Mary and Martha show in Jesus’ ability and willingness to save Lazarus from death is valid. They are correct — if Jesus comes while Lazarus is ill, then Lazarus does not die. But Jesus waits, confident Himself that Lazarus’ death and subsequent resurrection is “for [the] good [of Mary and Martha and others] and for the good of [their] faith.” (John 11: 15)

Jesus knows they are to “see the glory of God” which is indeed “in accord with God’s will.”

“Passed Out Of Death” (John 11: 25, ESV) by Carley Evans


“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” (1 John 3: 14)

Lazarus is dead; he lies in his grave, his body spiced and wrapped. He has been in the grave four days when Jesus arrives in Bethany. Martha meets Jesus as He approaches, saying to Him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” (John 11: 21) Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise again. Martha figures Jesus is referring to the future resurrection to occur on the last day. But Jesus says, “I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

The life Jesus gives is for the present time.

Jesus finds Mary weeping, and He is “deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled.” (John 11: 33) He weeps with Mary. At Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus commands the stone to be moved from the cave where Lazarus’ body is entombed. Martha is concerned about decay and odor for her brother has been dead four days. Jesus is focused on His heavenly Father’s glory. He calls Lazarus to come out. Lazarus does. Jesus says to Mary, Martha and others, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11: 44)

Jesus unbinds us from the grip of death; He loosens the ties and lets us go. “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55)

Jesus loves us. He tells us, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) He says, “I came that [My friends] may have life and have it abundantly. I Am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10: 10 – 11)

“Look To Jesus” (John 13: 14; ESV) by Carley Evans


If we look to Jesus, to what we know of Him through the four gospels — we should see, I think, a man who loves beyond measure, and who is overall not prone to judge. But we should also see a man who, when He does judge, has a swift and terrible judgment.

Three moments come to mind — the tomb of Lazarus, the parable of the Prodigal son and the withering of the fig tree.

Jesus weeps before He raises Lazarus from death.
Jesus completely forgives the son who disobeys his father and squanders life.
But, He completely withers a fig tree that does not produce fruit for Him in due season.

Jesus cries over the ultimate consequence of sin. He weeps that His friend, Lazarus must experience death. This sorrow despite the fact that Jesus knows He is capable of raising Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus understands human weaknesses. He knows people lose themselves. He rejoices when they find the way back to who He means them to be. His relishes finding the one; and He throws a great party.

Jesus expects results. He gives a gift. He demands that we use that gift to His glory. The consequences are hard to fathom — I don’t believe the consequence is a loss of Him, but a loss nevertheless. The fig tree still stands, but it is withered. This tree will never produce fruit — it is a fruit tree without fruit. Not much sadder than that.

Jesus says that He washes our feet. He has cleaned our whole; now He need only wash our feet. He calls on us to wash one another’s feet.

“Truly, truly; I say unto you, a servant is not greater than his master. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (John 13: 16, 17)