JESUS RAISES LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD

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    [John:11:1-46].

    Lesson No.: 
    145
    Class: 
    Senior
    Memory Verse: 

    "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?  (John 11:40). 

    Cross References: 

    I Lazarus' Death
    1. After receiving a message of Lazarus' sickness, Jesus delayed His return to Bethany several days that He might work a miracle, [John:11:1-6, [John:11:15].
    2. Jesus' announcement that He would return to Bethany caused among the disciples great concern for His safety, [John:11:7-10], [John:11:16]; [John:10:31]; [John:8:59].
    3. The personal safety of Jesus was largely guaranteed by the protecting power of God, so long as His work remained unfinished, [John:11:9-10]; [Luke:13:31-33]; [John:13:30]; [Psalms:91:11-12]; [Matthew:10:29-30].
    4. To correct His disciples' misconception of Lazarus' condition, Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead," [John:11:11-14].

    II The Divine Physician
    1. Martha was the first to meet Jesus as He came to Bethany, [John:11:20].
    2. Martha's and Mary's testimonies were the same, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died," [John:11:21-22], [John:11:32].
    3. When Mary came to see Jesus, many of the mourners followed her, thinking she was going to mourn at Lazarus' grave, [John:11:28-33].
    4. Jesus sought to encourage the faith of Martha and Mary to believe on Him as the Resurrection and the Life, [John:11:23-27], [John:11:40]; [1 Corinthians:15:54-58].
    5. The weeping of Jesus revealed His compassion, [John:11:33-38]; [Luke:19:41]; [Hebrews:5:7]; [Isaiah:53:3].
    6. Some of the onlookers were mystified that Jesus had not been present to heal Lazarus, [John:11:37], [John:11:4], [John:11:15].

    III Resurrection Power
    1. Jesus' statement that He was the Resurrection and the Life is one of His greatest affirmations of His deity, [John:11:25-26]; [John:1:4]; [John:5:26]; [2 Timothy:1:10]; [1 John:5:12].
    2. Jesus proved His deity by calling forth Lazarus from the grave, [John:11:38-44].
    3. Many, seeing the miracle of Lazarus' resurrection, believed on Christ, while others went to tell the Pharisees all that had been done, [John:11:45-46]; [John:12:9], [John:11:17-19]; [Luke:16:31].

    Notes: 

    Troubled Days
    The incident of Lazarus' death is told by only one of the Gospel writers, Saint John. It is thought by some Bible students that the other writers did not mention Lazarus because he was still alive at the time of their writ-ing. The miracle of his resurrection caused such fury and hate toward Jesus and Lazarus, from the Pharisees, that perhaps the disciple did not wish to bring undue notoriety to Lazarus. Because Lazarus became such a monument to the power of God, the Pharisees wished to kill him. (Read [John:12:9-11], [John:12:17-19].)

    The time of Lazarus' death was in the last year before Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus' denunciation of all hypocrisy and fraud in the Jewish worship and teachings was causing great opposition from various quarters. The many miracles Jesus had been performing were adding fuel to the fires of jealousy and envy already burning. This last year of Jesus' ministry is often called the year of opposition, and it was so in truth. Jesus found it necessary to leave the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem to escape persecution. He was beyond Jordan, where John the Baptist first baptised, when He received a message that Lazarus was sick ([John:10:40]).

    Jesus' announcement that He wished to return to Judæ again was received with many misgivings by His disciples. They well knew the tide of hate that was rising against Jesus and His followers. Reminding Jesus that only recently the Jews had sought to stone Him, they questioned the wisdom. of His returning at that time.

    Jesus sought to alleviate the fear of His disciples for His safety by reminding them that His work was not yet finished. So long as His mission was not finished, divine Providence was being invoked in His behalf. "Are there not twelve hours in the day?" Jesus questioned His disciples. He meant by that: as the day runs its course hour by hour, according to the plan of God, so also would the plan of God work in the life of Jesus Christ each piece and segment in its own place and time. While the days were evil, and Jesus was beset by many enemies, nevertheless, Jesus was enabled by the providence of God to do the works He was sent to do, and to de-liver His message of righteousness. Jesus on several occasions separated Himself from the people to avoid violence, and to keep the temper of the people as calm as possible. Yet, doubtless, God's hand stayed the murder-ous intents of the enemies of Christ on more than one occasion. (Read [Matthew:26:55].)

    A time and place of repentance is given to all, and the Pharisees and the people were given time by the Lord to consider the works and preaching of Christ, whether they were of God. Until the hour of decision arrived, and the work of Christ was finished, Jesus would have opportunity to declare Himself. This did not seem to relieve the disciples' fears much, for Thomas said, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

    Delayed Answer
    Jesus, hearing of the sickness of Lazarus, delayed several days before going to Bethany. Jesus purposely tarried, and the reason which He gave His disciples was that the glory of God might be manifested when He did go. Jesus said Lazarus was asleep, but His disciples did not understand that Jesus spoke of death as sleep (meaning the body sleeps and the soul is with the Lord). Jesus corrected their misunderstand-ing by saying plainly, "Lazarus is dead." No message had reached Jesus to tell Him of the death of Lazarus, but Jesus knew that Lazarus had died, for He was the Son of God and knew all things; there was nothing hid from Him.

    We know from the record of the Bible that Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary were greatly beloved of Jesus. He often stayed at their home, and it was Mary who sat at His feet to learn of Him. One would think that Jesus would have been very solicitous of the welfare of His close friend, knowing he was sick unto death. Jesus could have spoken the word, and Lazarus would have been instantly healed regardless of the distance they were apart. (See [Matthew:8:8].)

    The love of Christ is far above anything that mortal man can conceive. Jesus loved Lazarus and desired to see him well and happy; but most of all Jesus wanted Lazarus and the others there to know God's eternal truths, and to be a partaker of them. Wherever Jesus was, in everyday life, He never failed to use those present circumstances to point men to another life, eternal life! He did not fail to use this particular happening graphically to show men who He was, and what His message was. As the truths Jesus had to present were so foreign to most men's thinking, He had to portray them vividly and with methods that would enable men to see His mean-ing.

    God's answers to our prayers are sometimes different from what we expect. Jesus did not refuse to aid Lazarus, but He did it in His own time, that the glory of God might be seen. How effectively that glory was manifested is evident from the fact that many believed on Christ from that time on.

    Faith
    Jesus did not go to the house of Lazarus when He arrived at Bethany. Perhaps this was to avoid any unfavourable disturbance until He had accomplished that which He desired. Martha was the first to meet Jesus, and her first words were the same as Mary's later greeting: "Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died." There did not seem to be any doubt, either with Martha or Mary, that Jesus could have healed Lazarus had He been there.

    Martha's next statement to Jesus showed her faith in Him: "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Martha's faith did not seem to have flowered into its maturity yet, for Jesus encouraged her faith by telling her that her brother would live. Martha's assertion that she knew her brother would live on the Resurrection Day brought forth from Jesus one of His grandest declarations found in Scripture of Himself, His deity, and His resurrection power. "I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die." Martha, not yet being able fully to grasp all that Jesus meant by such a statement, and nearly overwhelmed with the immensity of what. she had just heard, believed all her faith could grasp. She broke forth with a heartfelt utterance in answer to Jesus: "Yea, Lord: I believe that thou are the Christ, the Son of God." A worthy declaration of faith from anyone!

    Mary, coming to Jesus, could only fall at His feet weeping, and saying: "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." Jesus, seeing the weeping of Mary and the Jews who followed her, wept also. Much speculation has been advanced as to Jesus' weeping at the grave of Lazarus, and at Mary's sorrow. Undoubted-ly the weeping of Jesus was more than just human sorrow at the loss of a friend and more than sympathetic tears for Martha and Mary in their bereavement. Jesus' sorrow, springing to the surface from the depths of the soul of the Son of God, was the compassion of God for His loved ones.

    Christian Consolation
    Here at the graveside of a dearly beloved friend, Jesus met again the enemy He had come to defeat and destroy death! the sting of which is sin. Saint and sinner alike have suffered physical death because of God's condemnation on a sinful and cursed world. It was never in the plan of God for His creatures to suffer the terrible pangs of death. God never intended, in the beginning, that families should be separated and loved ones torn away from one another. Sin brought the enemy of men
    death!

    Only God can comfort the bereaved at the time of death. Jesus, as the express image of God, was at Lazarus' tomb to give the comfort of God to the sorrowing by bringing life from death. The Psalmist has said: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning" (Psalm:30:5). The tears of the children of God may be for a season, but God will wipe them away, and they shall be no more. (See [Revelation:21:4].)

    The consolation of Christ, which is the hope of the resurrection of the dead in Christ, has always been a great bulwark of strength to the Christian. The Resurrection is the very backbone of the Gospel. Jesus told His disciples: "Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice: and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy . . . and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you" ([John:16:20], [John:16:22]; [1 Corinthians:15:13-19]).

    Lazarus died that God might raise him up again for a great testimony to the weak-hearted and those doubtful of the power of God. Jesus' answer to Martha's and Mary's sorrow is the answer to all who can hear it: "Though he were dead, yet shall he live." It has been often said that death cannot abide where the source of all life, Jesus Christ, is. At the command of Jesus to Lazarus to "come forth," he came forth, alive and well.

    The news of Lazarus' death and resurrection spread everywhere, and many believed on Jesus because of it. Lazarus became a powerful testimony to the power and grace of God during his entire lifetime.

    It was but a short time later that Jesus again proved His power, and the truth that He was the Resurrection and the Life, by His own resurrection. The Pharisees thought with His death they had Christ silenced forever. That hope was short lived, for just three days later the grave could no longer contain the Giver of Life, and He burst forth in all His glory. Where many believed on Jesus because of the resurrection of Lazarus, untold mil-lions have believed because of the resurrection of Christ.

    Millions have died Christian deaths, and done so willingly with the utmost confidence that He who was able to raise up Jesus would also raise them up, and would also raise up all those who call upon His name ([2 Corinthians:4:14]).

    "He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
    He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way.
    He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!
    You ask me how I know He lives?
    He lives within my heart."

    Questions: 

    1. Why did Jesus delay His return to Bethany?
    2. Why did the disciples not wish Him to go?
    3. What assurance did Jesus give His disciples for His safety?
    4. What encouragement did Jesus give Martha that all would be well with her brother?
    5. Why did Jesus weep at the grave of Lazarus?