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Raising of Lazarus. Part 5 – John 11:38-45


Lazarus – Come forth!

Text: John 11:38-45
In this last piece of the story there is a wonderful illustration of the Gospel – and that is exactly what we would expect. John 20:30-31, …but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. Let’s look for the Gospel, so that we too may believe in Him, and have eternal life…  

1. Human Despair! Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb.
Let’s try to appreciate this from the standpoint of the bystanders and the sisters. This is a totally hopeless situation.

  1. Lazarus is buried in a tomb and the mouth of the tomb is sealed with a large stone. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Tombs were often caves, and often held around eight bodies. Mary and Martha and Lazarus were among the aristocracy of the town of Bethany, to be able to afford to make burial arrangements like this. (Cf Jeremiah 26:23) They may have many advantages and many comforts in this earthly life, but what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?
  2. Jesus uses people to do God’s work. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Jesus could, of course have moved that stone, simply by declaring that it be moved for He is God. But yet he uses men to have it moved – just as he does in the proclamation of the Gospel. Remember that we do Gospel work because God has ordained it to be so! He HAS chosen his elect – he will give them new life in Him, but he uses the agency of the preached word, and uses His people to declare that Word in this world.
  3. The state of being ‘dead.’ Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” In this statement we learn two vital lessons:
  4. The true spiritual condition of mankind. Weather and the rate of decomposition will have made sure that life is totally extinct. How well that describes the human spiritual condition. We cannot give new life to ourselves, or raise ourselves from our predicament. Someone must rescue us!
  5. The extent of God’s forgiveness. 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. No one is beyond his reach. We are full of depravity and deadness, but we are never beyond the grace of God.
  6. he answer to our spiritual deadness is exactly the same as it was for the sisters and the mourners and the Jews at the grave of Lazarus. It is to BELIEVE IN CHRIST! This simple truth is stated time and time again in Scripture… Acts 16:30 Romans 10:9.

Now, what does it mean to believe? It is not something we do or that we decide to do, it is not a work, it does not depend on our obedience, as the RC Church teaches. It a passive acceptance, that Christ has ‘paid the fine’ for all our sins. We rest on HIS obedience, not on our flawed, sinful efforts at obedience. 2 Corinthians 5:21 Galatians 3:22 Isaiah 53:5

2. Heavenly Intervention! And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
The conversations in this passage are really interesting. Jesus has spoken already to Martha, but now he speaks again…

  1. Jesus speaks to the Father. This is not prayer.- it is PRAISE! Notice very carefully that Jesus does not pray, ‘Father, please raise lazarus from the dead’ or or ‘Father grant to me the power to do this great act.’ No, He is GOD! He already HAS that power. He already knows what is going to happen here, for as the second person of the One God, the Trinity, he has already ordained that this will happen, from before the foundation of the world.
  2. Jesus speaks to Lazarus. The stone has been rolled away, and the open tomb confronts them. Jesus calls out with a loud voice – “Lazarus, come out.” He didn’t need to shout loudly, – he could have whispered, but He needed all those bystanders to witness that it is He who gives new life to the dead… So He shouts. Inside the tomb a strange figure is shuffling off one of the stone recesses, and now he is standing up, and now he’s walking to the door of the tomb, all covered and wrapped in bandages, he’s moving slowly, because his feet are bound by the bandages like a mummy and his hands are bound to his body and his face is covered by a linen cloth, but he makes it to the door of the tomb, and Jesus commands, ‘loose him and let him go!’ V44 ”

RC Trench emphasises the ‘loud voice’ and reminds us of a parallel at the second coming, when again a loud voice will sound and the dead shall rise! John 5:28-29

3. Historical Results!
Things happened that day that a sinful man could never do:-

  • A man was raised from death to life! John 12:1
  • Many men and women were raised from death to life! 45 Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.
  • The Pharisees were enraged. John 12:10-19

So, how does this parallel the Gospel? Because in the account of Lazarus we see that:

  1. Mankind, like Lazarus, is dead in sin, and unable to help himself, and his only ability is to become more rotten and more odious in the sight of God.
    God frequently/mostly uses people in the bringing of the good news to fallen sinners.
  2. It is Christ, who intercedes for us, before the Father’s throne, and who awakens us, and calls us to Himself, and it is he, at the sound of His Word who gives us New Life, raises us from the death of sin to New Life in Christ! John 5:24
  3. When given this new birth, we are welcomed into God’s family, which causes great rejoicing in heaven, and we have our old filthy soiled grave-clothes removed and are instead clothed in the righteousness of Christ!
  4. One day we shall sit down with Jesus, at the marriage Supper of the Lamb.

© Bob McEvoy.

From → John

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