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Friday, April 6, 2018

Lazarus – Part 3 – Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead

          Jesus went to the tomb where Lazarus was lain. Wealthy people were buried in a tomb but the poor were buried in a common grave. So, Lazarus, Martha and Mary were a wealthy family. The tombs of the wealthy were sealed by rolling a huge rock across the entrance. In other words, a rock was between life and death. Jesus is that Rock! Jesus too was buried in the tomb of a wealthy man, and the messenger of God rolled the stone away! Jesus was painting a picture of what He will experience soon.
 Jesus will show His resurrection power by raising Lazarus from the dead. He will use the resurrection of Lazarus as a sign of His own death and resurrection. Jesus showed in the “natural” what He would do in the “supernatural.” It is also an assurance that all believers in Jesus Christ will be raised from the dead to eternal life. In John 11:11, Jesus told His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.” He also tells them Lazarus died for their sake so they could see the glory of God when he is resurrected to life. (see John 11:14-15) Like Lazarus, those without Jesus are spiritually asleep in the grave of human sin and without One who can give them eternal, spiritual life.

“Take Away the Stone.”
          Jesus told those present to “take away the stone.” The stone had to be rolled away for Lazarus to have resurrected life. Jesus could have rolled away the stone but He told the others to do it. Jesus works through those who believe in Him. In other words, Jesus is saying, “remove the barrier.” The barrier for humanity is sin. Each of us must willingly allow Jesus and the Holy Spirit to remove the barrier of sin in us so we can walk in new, resurrected spiritual life in Jesus the Rock. Sometimes, Jesus and the Holy Spirit work through others who believe in Him to accomplish this. Jesus, God’s Supreme Messenger, rolled away the seal of death for the whole world. He is our Rock that bridged the gap between sin and death, heaven and earth. He took away our sin which brings spiritual death.
            Martha is concerned with the stench of Lazarus’ decaying flesh. “But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days. John 11:39 Flesh without life decays and stinks. When we are spiritually dead in sin, we stink. The longer we hold on to our sins, we are decaying and stinking. We are spiritually dead and asleep in the grave of our sins. Jesus wants us to let Him remove our sin and decay. Lazarus is not only in the darkness of physical death and the tomb, he was in the spiritual darkness of sin without belief in Jesus.
            Jesus reminds Martha and those present, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” Jesus is reminding Martha of His Word. In other words, have faith in Me and My Word. We must believe that God will perform all that He has spoken in His Word and to us personally. God would be glorified in the resurrection of Lazarus. The resurrection of Lazarus from death to life will help people present to believe when Jesus dies and is resurrected.
            Some of those present obeyed Jesus’ Word and rolled the stone away. Before Jesus goes any further, Jesus communicates with His Heavenly Father. When Jesus was walking in the flesh on earth, He submitted to the authority of God perfectly and fully so He brought glory to God in all that He did and said. Why? Jesus is the example of all those who have flesh. In His flesh body, Jesus was tempted in every way that fleshly humans are, He never gave in to the temptations and remained pure. He sought the will of God and allowed the power of the Holy Spirit to empower Him to resist temptation. Of course, Jesus had the full power of the Holy Spirit to help Him because He had no sin to reduce the Holy Spirit’s power.
  Before taking any action with regard to Lazarus, Jesus gave thanks to His Heavenly Father that God always heard Him. He did this for the benefit of the people there so they might come to believe that God was the One who sent Jesus. Jesus knew His Father heard His word and would perform His Word, so He didn’t ask God to resurrect Lazarus. Jesus is righteous. The Bible says that God hears the prayers of the righteous who do His will. (see John 9:31) Jesus and the Father work in absolute unity and harmony. God will perform Jesus’ proclaimed Word. Jesus saw beyond death, hell and the grave. Jesus “looked up” and saw through the eyes of the heavenly realm. There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind that God would perform His Word. He prayed out loud for the benefit of those present so they too would know that God hears and answers the prayers of the righteous. Everything Jesus did as He walked the earth was designed to bring glory to God.
            Jesus used His powerful Word of authority to instruct those present. Jesus illustrates in His dealing with Lazarus that it is His powerful Word anointed by the Holy Spirit and obeyed by His disciples that calls us out of spiritual death to spiritual life. Jesus will overcome the corruption of Lazarus’ flesh body by His powerful Word and the obedience of Lazarus. He will also remove the doubt of those present about His power and might to breathe new life into others.

Jesus Calls Lazarus by Name
          “Lazarus, come forth.” V43 Jesus called Lazarus by name.Then He gives Lazarus a command. The Word of God awoke the dead! It still does! It awakes the spiritually dead today. The One who has life called Lazarus out of the tomb of death. The Word of God is powerful. When Lazarus heard Jesus’ Word, he obeyed and came out of the tomb of death to the life-giver Jesus. It is in hearing and obeying the Word of God that brings us to new, resurrected life in Him. Previously, Jesus used His Word to raise Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son and finally Lazarus. Jesus had said in John 5:25, “a time is coming, and has now come, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.”  Lazarus heard, obeyed and lived. He came from darkness into the light!

Lazarus is Still Bound in Graveclothes
          Lazarus is still bound with the wrappings of death. Lazarus was walking toward Jesus, but Jesus told His disciples to remove the graveclothes and set Lazarus free so he can see Jesus. The Law would not allow His Jewish disciples to touch some dead person or graveclothes, but Jesus circumvented the Law because Lazarus is now alive. The job of removing the graveclothes belonged to Jesus’ disciples. Lazarus’ hands, feet, body and face were wrapped with strips of linen. Jesus wants His disciples to teach Lazarus to walk as Jesus walked, do the works He did and help Lazarus put on the face of Jesus and remove the face of Lazarus. When people come to Jesus, they are born anew but they are still bound by sin which brings spiritual death. Jesus wants His disciples to help new converts and fellow Christians to be set free from the chains of sin that bind them.We do this through prayer, the teaching of the powerful Word of God, Christlike love and loving correction, and through example. Jesus must always be in the lead with His disciples behind Him. We are called to follow Him.

Jesus Seals His Own Death
          Jesus gave life to Lazarus but He sealed His own death because of it. Many Jews believed in Jesus because of this miracle, but still others went to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus had done.The chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin Council. “What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this Man performing many miraculous signs. If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. The political and religious leaders misunderstood Jesus’ motives. They feared an uprising would take away their power and authority. Caiaphas, the high priest, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Caiaphas prophesied. He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So, from that day on they plotted to take His life. John 11:51-52 Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, was the channel of God’s Word. He prophesied of Jesus’ death for the whole Jewish nation and the scattered people of God throughout the whole world. The prophesy included the bringing together of Jews and Gentiles as  as “one new man” in Christ. (see Ephesians 2:14-16)
            The resurrection of Lazarus brought new converts to Jesus. Unfortunately, the gift of life given to Lazarus by Jesus moved His enemies to also act. They sought to  take Jesus’ life!     
Jesus Walks Away
          Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead He withdrew to a region near the desert to a village called Ephraim, where He stayed with His disciples.

To the Glory of the Father
          The supreme way that Jesus would show the glory of the Father and His glory is at the cross of salvation and His resurrection life. All that Jesus said and did while walking on earth was to bring glory to the Father. It is God's desire that all followers of Christ bring glory to Him through their words, actions and deeds.

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