(Study Outline sourced from “The System Bible Study” – “The Book of Life” [Zondervan])
9. The Raising Of Lazarus From The Dead
At the very outset of this narrative the Lord Jesus made it quite clear what purpose was to be gained, “it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” So it was that He remained where He was for two more days after He got the message from Lazarus’ sister that Lazarus was sick and dying. His comment to the disciples was, “This sickness will not end in death.” What did our Lord mean by His words “This sickness will not end in death”? Death for us is an everlasting farewell to this world, so final that we will never again return; the grave is the long home of eternity for the body that is entombed. Our Lord is here implying that Lazarus’ death would not be an eternal death, His comment to the disciples was, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
How was God’s Son to be glorified in the death of Lazarus? Our Lord explained this by His statement to the disciples, “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” The raising of Lazarus would be a demonstration of His divine power, since being actually God and as the creator of this universe He has the power to restore life , as God He had the power to give life . Furthermore, His statement to Martha – “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”– made Him equal with, and God Himself, and would eventually lead to His final rejection by the religious leaders.
Upon His arrival in Bethany three important comments are recorded :
“…he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” Not only was our Lord equal with His Father and God Himself, the writer to the Hebrews explained that in order for Him to become our Salvation and open the way for us to share in His glory He had to share in our humanity so we see that He shared the grief of Lazarus’ sisters and friends.
“Jesus wept”In sharing their grief His emotions are expressed in His weeping.
“Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” If the Lord Jesus could accomplish all the other miracles, why could He not have saved Lazarus from dying? Unknowingly, they were about to find out why.
As our Lord approached the grave, there was no doubt in the minds of the curious bystanders at Lazarus’ grave, Lazarus was dead for four days, and there was no way that he would be brought back from the dead as was the case of Jairus’ daughter and the widow’s son who were dead only for a short period of time <see Mk.5: 22-43; Lk.7:11-17>, this could not be explained away by saying that he was in a deep physical sleep. At this point our Lord prays to His Heavenly Father, “…you always hear me…” stating that He said this “for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” The event that was about to occur would glorify Him before them as well as His disciples, as proof that He was indeed The Son Of God. “Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Here, “The Resurrection And The Life” issues the call, a call that will be repeated on a coming day when our Lord Jesus will raise us all to be with Him in glory , and so the dead man Lazarus “came out”from the grave still wrapped in his grave clothes from which the Lord Jesus commanded that he be set free. One day we all will be free from the “sting of death” as we will be “raised imperishable, and we will be changed” .
10. The Results Of The Raising Of Lazarus
The results were twofold and would eventually lead to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus:
“..many of the Jews who had…. seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.” This was a positive result, one that was predicted by our Lord when He said to His disciples, in reference to the raising of Lazarus, “..it is for God’s glory…” . God is here glorified because His Son demonstrated His power over death and proved Himself to be “the resurrection and the life” resulting in some of the Jews believing in Him as the expected Messiah . This, however, caused a negative response which would eventually lead to His total rejection by the nation and result in His crucifixion, “But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” Whereupon, the Sanhedrin was called to a meeting at which Caiaphas would prophesy to Christ’s death, “You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”
Our Lord Jesus Christ would die at their hands providing salvation, not only for the Jews, but for all mankind, so that “the resurrection and the life”could be experienced by all “the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” The concern expressed at the meeting was that if they allowed the Lord Jesus to continue performing miraculous signs, “everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” They were afraid that the people would accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and King, thereby causing them to lose control of their leadership; this concern was a part of their accusation before Pilate at the trial of the Lord Jesus . “So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”
11. Jesus Withdraws To The City Of Ephraim
“Therefore Jesus… withdrew to… a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.” Although they plotted to take His life, it was not “His time” to die!