The Expository Files


He Can Raise The Dead!

John 11:1-44

Though he was loved and cared for by dear friends and relatives, Lazarus of Bethany was sick and dying. Jesus was told of his friend's serious condition but continued His work teaching. Then Jesus said, "our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up," (Jno. 11:11). His disciples thought Lazarus was simply sleeping and would be all right. They said, "…if he sleeps he will get well." But John adds, "Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep," (Jno. 11:12,13)."Then Jesus said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead'." (Jno. 11:14). Jesus was glad He wasn't there at the point of death, for the sake of His disciples. He intended to raise Him and His purpose was to supply another sign as evidence for belief (Jno. 11:15).

When Jesus came, Lazarus "had already been in the tomb four days," (v.17). In Bethany, mourners were already gathered and comfort was extended to his sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha greeted Jesus, saying to Him: "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," (vss.21,22). Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again," (v.23). Martha replied: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day," (v.24). 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?" (vss.25,26). Martha confessed, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world," (v.27).

Next, Mary approached the Lord, repeating what Martha had initially said: "…if you had been here, my brother would not have died," (v.32). Jesus saw her and the other mourners and was overcome by the touching sight. "Jesus wept," (v.35). The Jews saw in Jesus the depth of his care for Lazarus and noted: "See how He loved him!" (v.36).

But the same frustration was expressed again: "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" (v.37).

Jesus came to the tomb and said, "Take away the stone." Though warned of postmortem stench, Jesus showed no hesitation. "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" (vss. 39,40).

"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'." (Jno. 11:41-44)

There was the day when Jesus let a man die. But there was another day when He said, "Lazarus, come forth!" The delay of Jesus is explained by His knowledge of His complete mastery over death. He knew He was the Resurrection and the Life. It is a remarkable story in so many ways. My present purpose is to emphasize one thing. Jesus has the power to give life, when it seems there is no hope. These miracles not only supply evidence but demonstrate truth. In this case, the power of Jesus to give life.

He can give life to dead marriages. Some couples are legally married and perhaps their union is in keeping with God's law. No divorce or separation is contemplated, but the relationship is dying or dead. They share a house, deal with children, pay the bills, file a joint tax return and perhaps come to a church building together. Every appearance is, they are married. But there is no joy of companionship; no satisfaction. Beyond that, building  resentment and boredom. The answer is not divorce; don't put asunder that which God hath joined (Matt. 19:6). The answer is Christ. Both
husband and wife need Christ. If they will both love and obey Christ, there is the strongest possible basis to resolve problems and nurture a loving and permanent relationship. Christ offers to dead marriages, pardon, love and law. Jesus has the power to raise a marriage from the dead.

He can raise dead people, and that will happen someday. He said, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation," (Jno. 5:28,29). There are people everywhere who simply ignore this or anything else the Lord said. They have ears but do not hear. This says, the hour is coming when all will hear! The time is coming when "all who are in the graves will hear," and like Lazarus, they will come forth. But not all the dead will come forth to the same end. "Those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the
resurrection of condemnation." Jesus has this power. He can raise the dead, and this will happen someday. "All who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth." I need to hear His voice today. I need to listen to Him now, because someday I will hear Him and come forth – either to life or to condemnation. But ponder His promise: "He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live."

He can lift sinners from the spiritual death of sin to life in Him. Here is the condition of accountable people prior to their obedience to the gospel: "dead in trespasses and sins." Paul wrote this: "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive
together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)," Eph. 2:1-5. The alien sinner lives on earth, but is dead in sin. The only way for the dead sinner to be brought back to life is to respond to Christ; to hear Him, believe on Him and act on that faith.

"The miracles of raising from the dead which Jesus wrought were intended not only for the assuagement of human sorrow, but for the satisfying of human aspirations. He drew the attention away from the great work to the greater Worker. In him was life; and by his incarnation and sacrifice he brought the life of God to this world of sin and death."          J.R. Thomson, Pulpit Commentary

By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 10.11; February, 2003