The Raising of Lazarus, Part V, John 11:33-43
We find ourselves in Johnís Gospel, the 11th chapter.
Where we re-enter the scene in Bethany, a small village near Jerusalem, where Jesus had just told Martha that the resurrection is not a future event but is a present person and that person is Jesus Christ.
Mary has then been told by Martha of the coming of Jesus to the outskirts of Bethany and has run to meet him, immediately falling at his feet weeping and crying to him:
Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
We learn that Mary is a woman of worship.
Her place is a place of humility before her Lord.
Her place is a place of adoration of Jesus Christ for when we see Mary we see her at the feet of Jesus.
When we read of her in Chapter 12 she again will be at His feet anointing them with spikenard then wiping his feet with her hair.
Jesus will acknowledge that she has done this against the day of his burying.
The aroma of the spikenard fills the room but the same aroma emits from Mary and speaks to all that she hereby identifies herself in the most intimate way with the death of Jesus Christ.
So what was the response of Jesus to Mary?
We read of this in John 11:33,34, When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
So weeping begets weeping.
And it was no different with Jesus Christ for Jesus acknowledged Maryís weeping and then the weeping of those who came with her and he is moved to groans in the spirit and is visibly troubled.
By groaning Jesus Christ was expressing indignation and outrage at what death had done to those he loves.
Jesus Christ, who is life, hates death and is filled with sorrow that death has its way because of sin.
He knows that it was because of death that he left Heavenís glories to come to this sinful, evil place apart from his Father so that men and women like Lazarus, Martha and Mary could be rescued from death.
Oh how death is the enemy of Christ, the Christ who is the only one having power over death!
So He is moved to a holy indignation of the fruit of sin which brings Him to groan and to weep.
He truly wept with those who were weeping as he instructs us to do the same.
So John reports in John 11:35, that shortest of verses that, Jesus wept.
He deigns to join those whom he loves in weeping for He was touched with the feeling of their infirmities.
He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief so He knew their grief.
He wept because his heart was broken at the sadness of death and by the sorrows it brought.
He came from a place where there were no sorrows to a place filled with sorrows.
Even though he knew that he was to raise their brother from the dead and a joyous occasion awaited, he knew that they grieved and he chose to share that grief with those he loved.
And look at the testimony that he was to the Jews who witnessed his compassion.
John 11:36, Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
His weeping testified of his love for Lazarus.
You see how weeping with those that weep can be a testimony of love.
You see how his tears demonstrated his love of Lazarus to the Jews.
This was not a time of celebration, this was a time of weeping, and celebration would come in its own good time.
John 11:37, And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
So the ever present question of unbelief is expressed!
Why should the Almighty have allowed this to happen?
Why did he permit this?
Job says that God giveth not account of any of his matters but John tells us this particular instance was for the glory of God and that the Son of God might be glorified.
We need no other explanation!
Faith leads to trust.
Trust means accepting the will of God without question.
So we read in John 11:38 that: Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
Christ endured the contradiction of sinners against himself.
He did not speak to them but was about to show them.
He knew their unbelief.
As He comes to the grave He continues to groan with indignation against the results of sin for by sin came death and death is contrary to his holy nature.
He is life and when death was around it brought him to holy groaning.
His holy nature recoiled from the presence of the evil surrounding him as he approached the cave where the body of Lazarus lay.
John 11:39,40, Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Notice that Jesus Christ, who is the resurrection, orders the removal of the stone.
As in the first miracle of this Gospel when he ordered men to fill the jars with water so that he might make wine, he commands work to be done by men that can be done by men.
He knows that men cannot raise the dead but they can remove a stone.
God expects us to do what we can and he will do the rest.
So he again displays the principle that we are laborers together with God.
We are privileged to do this!
The principle of faith - reach out your arm as far as it reaches and God will reach the rest.
But as is the usual case his will is questioned.
He earlier said to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.
His disciples said the Jews of late sought to stone thee, and goest thou thither again?
And now at the tomb of Lazarus, Martha opposes his will by reasoning that her brother's body is corrupt and not fit to see.
Oh, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.
Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Didn't you declare that I am the Christ, the Son of God?
Didn't I tell you that I am the resurrection and the life?
Why be troubled when the Master is present, and when he instructs?
When the Master tells to roll away the stone this in not the time to reason.
Take away the stone if he so instructs.
How many stones of this life do we leave in place hindering the glory of God?
Faith rolls the stones away that God can do a mighty work!
That is our part.
The Lord tells us to roll the stones of our life away, and we say No, Lord!
If the stone is removed it will stink so we rebel against opening up the tombs of our heart!
We do not want the whited sepulchers which appear beautiful outwardly, but are within full of dead men's bones and of all uncleanness, to be revealed!
We do not want the unclean thing revealed when the stone is removed.
We do not want the stone to be removed and reveal the filthy rags of our self-righteousness.
But if we are to pass from death unto life eternal the stone that covers our sin must be taken away for God to work his work of salvation in us.
For the glory of God to be revealed the stone must be taken away.
That is God's remedy!
The tomb must be opened to see the glory of God.
John 11:41,42, Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
The Lord's command was finally obeyed and Martha's concern was overruled.
Mary was silent.
Did Mary understand what Jesus Christ was about to do or was she speechless at the thought of the exhuming of a corpse for this was unheard of.
Her brother had been dead four days and now it appeared that Jesus Christ was going into the tomb.
But Mary and the many who were gathered there witnessed a prayer for Jesus Christ prayed publicly to his father.
He chose to connect with his father outwardly so that the many witnesses gathered will know that he is not there doing his own will.
He wants them to know that he has been sent by the father and what he will be doing there is in accord with His father's will.
Jesus Christ at all times declared that he was one with the father and that all things that he did was in obedience to the father.
He was meek and lowly and in all things he pointed to the father as the one to honor and glorify.
And now on the occasion of his mightiest miracle, one designed for public view, he declares in voice loud enough for all to hear, that he does nothing separate from his Father in heaven.
Remember John 8:29, And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
He here prays that his mission to Bethany, to the house of Mary and Martha and Lazarus would be authenticated by the Father.
What follows his prayer in the raising of Lazarus is the same authentication of his ministry that followed Elijah's prayer on Mt. Carmel with the 450 prophets of Baal.
1 Kings 18:36 ......LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
John 11:43, And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
The moment has arrived.
God's timing is perfect.
All the witnesses are in place.
Lazarus has been in the grave four days.
The stone has been removed.
The mourners have come from round about Bethany and Jesus Christ has thanked the Father for hearing him.
The Lord shouts with a loud voice, not so that Lazarus will hear him but so the witnesses to this great miracle will hear him.
He wants it clearly known that he is the Resurrection.
He addresses Lazarus by name lest all of Hades is emptied.
He simply says, Lazarus, come forth.
Witness the power of his word.
What causes the dead to come forth? The word of God.
Jesus Christ is the Word of God and therefore he is the resurrection.
All things that are done by God are done by his word and that includes resurrection.
Men are raised spiritually, pass from death to life, by means of the word of God.
And so shall our bodies come forth from the grave to life eternal by the Word of God.
Jesus says in a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!
And one day we too will hear the words from Christ, Come up hither!
John 11:44, And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.