This incredible story is one that would make great headlines even in today’s world that is used to sensation however the meaning behind the story that is just as amazing as the event itself.
On arrival at the funeral and in the face of the death of someone He loves -Jesus is “deeply moved.” (v33)
Some commentators say that the Greek words used here literally mean, “he snorted with indignation.” Jesus is outraged at death.
B. Warfield explained it this way, “The spectacle of the distress of Mary and her companions enraged Jesus because it brought poignantly home to his consciousness the evil of death, its unnaturalness and its violent tyranny.”
The Bible talks of two resurrections. One is a resurrection to life; the other, resurrection to eternal death – separation from God.
2. Delivering life demonstrates His divinity
Warren Wiersbe says, “Jesus transformed Jewish doctrine about resurrection. He took it out of a book and put it into a person, Himself. He goes on to say, “When you are sick you want a doctor not a medical book. When you are being sued you want a lawyer and not a law book. Likewise when you face your last enemy, death you want the Saviour and not a doctrine written in a book.”
How could people be assured that it is true?
What better way to prove His claim than resurrecting a dead man?
Jesus didn’t just raise Lazarus just to prove a point but the miracle did show His God-like character; delivering life demonstrates Jesus’ divine nature.
Jesus wasn’t just putting on a show but recognised that it was imperative that the people understand that He is God, not just a miracle worker.
Jesus' public prayer in verses 41 & 42 was to assert that He was one with God. He also claimed that He always heard the Father because His will and God’s will were one.
There was no doubt what Jesus was attempting to do. He was claiming to be God in human form.
If Jesus is God his words mean more. When we see Jesus as "less than God" then we can rationalize his directions about sexual purity, forgiveness, the importance of a humble/servant heart, the importance of using possessions not being enslaved by them. But if Jesus is God we can’t pick and choose what bits of His teaching we accept as we could if he were a mere man.
If Jesus is seen as God his actions mean more.
A good man dying for a cause is admirable and moving but God becoming man to bring us to himself is astounding.
If Jesus is seen as God then life is more meaningful.
We are not a cosmic accident but creatures intentionally created by a God who will go to any lengths to let us live.
3. Depending upon Jesus is crucial
Jesus says to the bereaved Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” (v23)
Martha’s response was correct but it lacks any linkage to her life. It’s the religious response, but it doesn’t appear to be relevant.
v 24: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
She understands this in her head, but it hasn’t filtered down into her heart.
Jesus makes it personal. “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
This statement focuses attention upon Jesus Himself. Depending upon Jesus for life is crucial There was new life now, because He is the resurrection.
This is important because Jesus Christ’s sufficiency is our basis for hope.
Sin does not just have unpleasant side effects. It is a killer. Without Jesus Christ we have no spiritual pulse at all.
Faith is a key factor in this story. God operates in response to our faith.
Jesus asks Martha about His claim; “I am the resurrection and the life, “Do you believe this?”
The most important thing we will ever do is exercise faith in Jesus. Our eternal future rests upon it.
Martha affirmed that she did believe in Jesus. She said; "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."
She moves from abstract belief about something in the distant future to a personalized trust in Jesus.
Trusting in Jesus is not just about booking a place in heaven, an insurance policy for the future but changes life in the here and now.
Martha and Mary in their grief but who cling on to faith in Jesus even when they don’t understand what Jesus is doing.
Jesus tells Martha, "Only believe". Things may not be as she wished Martha hadn’t wanted Lazarus to die but trust in Jesus would lead to her seeing God's hand in her life.”
It was when they trusted and obeyed Jesus command to “take away the stone” that new life was released.
When they opened up the situation to Christ, the deliverance they had hoped for began to flow.
Notice the physical progression of Jesus. He is far away, then He comes and is met by Martha and Mary on the outskirts of Bethany. After much discussion He is taken to the place where Lazarus is buried. But there is still a stone between Jesus and the body. At last on Jesus’ instruction the tomb is opened up and Jesus is able to speak directly to Lazarus and speak life into what was dead.
Are there some things in your lives that are hidden away to which Jesus needs access, so that he can bring you renewed life. So often we keep Him on the outskirts of our lives.
We also need to go on being transformed after our initial emergence from death into new life.
Lazarus emerges from the tomb alive. But he’s quite encumbered, restricted, hindered, and inhibited by his burial wrappings. He’s been freed from the grave, but is still bound by his grave clothes.
When Jesus calls us from our spiritual graves to new life, suddenly we are no longer corpses. We emerge from our tombs very much alive to God.
But, like Lazarus, we find that we’re still wrapped up tight in our death rags. We’re still confined by our old habits, old behaviors, old patterns of thinking, old wounds—and we’re not able to freely move about. Jesus called upon Lazarus’ friends and family to free him from the grave clothes.
Alan and Carol