One of the great events in the ministry of Jesus was the resurrection of Lazarus, found in John chapter 11. Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were sisters and a brother who lived in Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus knew them well and possibly stayed at their house when He came to Jerusalem. The Bible says that He loved them, so there was a special relationship between Jesus and the family. Lazarus became sick and the sisters sent a message to Jesus, saying “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” Their thought seemed to be that Jesus had healed many people of their diseases, so they wanted Jesus to come heal their brother Lazarus. When Jesus got the message, it seems that He was some distance away on the other side of the Jordan River. He told his disciples “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” We should understand that one of the primary purposes for this event was that God would be glorified as well as Jesus, His Son.
After Jesus got the message from the sisters, he stayed two more days in the place where He was. He intentionally delayed his journey to see Lazarus. After He had waited the two days, He told his disciples that it was time to go to Judea, where Lazarus was. His disciples said to him “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” He had previously said in John 9:4 “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” This seems to imply that Jesus knew the dangers of going to Judea. His “day” or his period of ministry was not completed; there were still other events that would occur in His ministry and it was not going to be cut short by being stoned to death.
Jesus then informed his disciples “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” Jesus reveals a second purpose for this event. It happened so that His disciples would believe. It also caused many of the Jews to believe and it should cause you and me to believe as well.
When Jesus came to Bethany, He found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Martha had great faith in Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” This is a powerful statement. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in Him, though we may die, we shall live eternally. If we live and believe in Him, we shall never die. Martha responded to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Martha then left Jesus and called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.” As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.” Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?” I don’t believe that Jesus wept in grief for Lazarus being dead. Jesus knew that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. I believe that Jesus wept in sympathy for those that were grieving because He felt their pain. We are encouraged in Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Like Jesus, we should have sympathy for those around us.
Then Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 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.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Jesus performed a mighty miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead. The Jewish religious leaders could not deny what Jesus had done, nor should you or I. I encourage you to believe in your heart that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said that if you believe, though you may die, you shall live eternally.