Lazarus Brought Out of the Grave (John 11:38-44)
By this time Lazarus had been dead four days and his body was beginning to stink (verse 39b). The custom was to use spices to counteract the repulsive odors.
The crowd who had gathered for the funeral believed that the life and work of Lazarus was ended, and that any effort now to restore him to life was futile. Lazarus was buried and the tomb was sealed (verse 38). However Jesus is the Master of death—and quickly ordered that the stone should be removed (verse 39).
In the prayer which Jesus prayed (verses 41-42), He calmly thanked the Father for His answer even before the miracle had taken place. In these verses, believers are given a glimpse into the intimate relationship between the Father and Son in the Holy Trinity. And at that point Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”—and Lazarus emerged from the grave even though he had been dead four days (verses 43, 44a)! Jesus brought Lazarus alive from the tomb! Can you imagine the amazement that must have gripped the onlookers?
The grave clothes (verse 44) involved wrapping the dead body in bandages from the arms to the ankles, and then there was a separate head wrapping. When Lazarus was restored to life, he had to be released from all of those wrappings (verse 44b).
4. The Pharisees Plotted to Kill Jesus (John 11:45-57)
Many Jews believed as a result of witnessing the raising of Lazarus, but others were irritated and hostile. Some of the hostile Jews went to the Pharisees and told them about this activity of Jesus. Even some people who were opposed to Jesus, were convinced by the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead that Jesus was who He claimed to be—the Son of God who is equal with God the Father—and many who witnessed the miracle “believed in Him” (verse 45).
People could not deny the witness of what they saw—a dead man restored to life again after his body had begun to decay in the grave. The miracle proved that Jesus is the real life-giver. But instead of worshiping Jesus as the Messiah, some reported the miracle to the Pharisees (verse 46). They were annoyed by the fact that Jesus had been drawing the attention of the crowds to follow Him, and so the enemies began to lay a plot to put Him to death (verses 47-48).
John explains that some of the eyewitnesses not only rejected Jesus, but actually plotted His murder. They were desperate to kill Him.
In verses 49-53, Caiaphas the high priest, without knowing it, spoke a profound truth. He said that the death of Jesus would be expedient for the nation (verse 50), but he meant that it would be better to get rid of the unwanted Jesus—than it would be to face the Romans who might take some of the Jewish self-rule out of their hands.
The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead was the occasion which ultimately led to the trial and death of Jesus (John 11:53)—but it was also the occasion for proclaiming that Jesus is the resurrection and the life (verse 25).
God’s people possess a faith that claims victory over the grave. Christians stand by the graveside today, knowing that since their Lord is this same Jesus, they have a sure hope of a beautiful life beyond, even though death is a time of grief and sadness. Christians really need not fear death.
While those who believe in Jesus prepare for death—death is not the central focus of our lives. The central focus for us is the resurrection. We look for the day when Jesus will appear and will transform our lowly bodies to become like His glorious body (Philippians 3:9-10).
While we are burdened for those we love and leave behind at death, we recognize that our dying will be great gain. We look forward to the “riches” of God’s grace as mentioned and promised in Ephesians 2:7.
While we enjoy life here on earth, it is enjoyed only temporarily, because we are ready to depart from it. We know that “to die is gain” and that “to depart and be with Christ is far better” (Philippians 1:21-23).
Death, for the Christian, is not the end of the road.
It is a tunnel that leads to a bright and shining land.
Death is like graduation in school.
For the Christian, it is promotion from a lower to a higher life. Death is a mystery to the human mind, but in the Bible we find the key which unlocks the meaning and purpose of death.
The Scriptures speak often about the death of believers. Their death is “precious” in the Lord’s sight (Psalm 116:15).
Death for believers is being carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:22).
Death for the Christian is a going into Paradise (Luke 23:43);
- it is entering a place with “many mansions” (John 14:2);
- it is to be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8);
- it is “gain”—and it is “far better” than life here (Philippians 1:21, 23).
Death is a “shadow” (Psalm 23:4), but you can’t have a shadow without a light—and the Lord Jesus, our Shepherd, is that Light!
Dinner At Lazarus’ House
There is very little written in the Bible about Lazarus after his resurrection. We are told that after his exit from the grave, Jesus went to his home for a dinner that had been prepared in honor of the Lord. Lazarus was among those who ate with him (John 12:1-2). This is last time we read about the whereabouts of Lazarus in the Bible.
His Second Death
There is no mention in the Scriptures of how Lazarus died his second death. Based on information from outside of the Bible, one of the more popular traditions holds that he went to Cyprus and was appointed as the bishop of Kition. It is said he lived there for thirty years before he died a second time of natural causes.