John 11 is one of the most exciting chapters in the Bible. Jesus hears that His good friend, Lazarus, is sick. His sisters, Mary and Martha, send word to Jesus, hoping that He will come and heal him. Jesus delays His visit intentionally, during which time Lazarus dies. By the time Jesus and His disciples arrive, Lazarus is already in the grave. Jesus goes with the sisters to the tomb and calls Lazarus out. The man who had been dead for four days walks out, still wrapped in his grave clothes.
Word of this amazing miracle, witnessed by both Mary and Martha, the disciples and the crowds who were there to comfort the grieving family, spreads all the way to Jerusalem and into the ears of the Pharisees. Worried about their position of wealth and authority, they begin in earnest to formulate a plan to kill this Jesus, who audaciously raises people from the dead.
The disciples questioned Jesus’ travel plans, worried that He would be killed if He returned to Judea. Both Mary and Martha questioned why Jesus delayed, knowing that He was fully able to heal Lazarus. They also questioned His request to open the tomb, knowing the body would already stink with decay. The crowds questioned Jesus, confused that He would be weeping in compassion when He clearly possessed the power to heal Lazarus before He died.
But you know who didn’t question Jesus? Lazarus!
When Jesus lifted His voice to His Father in thanks and cried out, “Lazarus, come forth,” there was no delay. There was no questioning. Lazarus obeyed and rose from death to life.
In this case, Lazarus was raised from physical death to physical life. He would die again, but the next time he died, he would be raised to eternal, spiritual life and meet Jesus on the other side of the grave. Lazarus was still wearing his grave clothes, which represent our old flesh, our sin nature. Jesus had not yet gone to the cross to take care of those. The next time Lazarus came out of the grave, he would not be wearing grave clothes, but a new, glorified body that would never again know the effects of sin.
Lazarus’ first resurrection is a beautiful picture of salvation. Sin causes death, both physically and spiritually. Jesus comes to us and calls us out of spiritual death into life. While we still live here physically, we “shed” our grave clothes -putting off all the habits and ways of our old sinful life and putting on the new man, created in the image of God. When we die physically, we enter our eternal life in new, glorified physical bodies.
Jesus tells us two reasons this miracle was performed. First, so that the Son of God would be glorified by it (11:4) and second so that the disciples, Mary and Martha, and the crowds would believe (11:15,26,40,42). Jesus is glorified when we believe. Jesus is glorified when we respond like Lazarus did, immediately and without question.
Has Jesus called out to you? Do you hear His voice? Rise up, my friend, and respond. Jesus has power over life and death. Do you believe?