Lesson 69

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

11:38 Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 11:39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone."

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."

11:40 Jesus said to her, "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see God's glory?"

11:41 So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, "Father, I thank you that you listened to me. 11:42 I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me." 11:43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

11:44 He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.

Jesus said to them, "Free him, and let him go."

 Today's Lesson 

In Today's Scripture, Jesus comes to the tomb of Lazarus. Lazarus has been dead for four days. In the environment around Jerusalem, decomposition of the body would have begun early and proceeded quite rapidly. Jesus tells those around Him to roll away the stone that sealed the tomb of Lazarus. When Martha, his sister, told Jesus that there would be a stench, she was not exaggerating. She was probably thinking that, in His grief, Jesus wished to see the body of Lazarus. But, He has something quite different in mind.


Jesus' answer to her, taken in context, is very interesting. He was prepared to raise Lazarus from the dead. He had told her so, only His words were so bold that she took them to mean something else. Now He tells her, "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see God's glory?"


Some men teach that we must believe for God to act. They believe in miracles, but for them, miracles are a product of the strength of our faith. Jesus tells Martha, "... if you believe, you will see God's glory." God's glory was about to be demonstrated, indeed is being demonstrated all around us all the time. Our faith simply allows us to see the miracles that are occurring. Our faith does not affect God's miracles; it allows us to experience them.


Jesus' prayer is a prayer of faith and certitude. He is supremely confident that God will answer His prayer. He says that His prayer is for those who would hear it and know that the Father had sent Him and was working through Him. The unity of the Father and the Son is such that whatever the Son would ask of the Father, the Father is willing and able to give. Jesus would never ask that which the Father would not gladly deliver, nor would the Father ever wish to withhold that which the Son required.


With a loud voice, Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb. Lazarus came out, still bound head to toe in the grave clothes that they had bound him in. His face was wrapped around with the cloth that no doubt his sisters had applied with many tears. The flesh that moments before had been in an advanced state of decay was restored, whole and healthy. Jesus calls on those who were standing with Him, those who were no doubt completely shocked by what had occurred, to "Free him, and let him go."


And, oddly enough, this is practically all we know of Lazarus. We know that he holds a dinner in which Jesus is the guest of honor some days hence. We do not know how long he lived after this. We do not know what he thought of his experience or what he told others about what happened to him after he had died. Playwrights and novelist have speculated about Lazarus. One scholar even went so far as to conclude that he was the beloved disciple who is the author of the Gospel of John.


But, the raising of Lazarus is not a story about Lazarus. It is about the man who prayed before the tomb. It is about the Son who wields power even over our greatest enemy, death. The raising of Lazarus is a sign of the authority and person of Jesus Christ. He has the power of life and death. With His very words, He calls men from the dead. He had told them before (5:25), "the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of God's voice; and those who hear will live." Here was a demonstration in flesh of those words.


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