Raising the Dead

Day 35

John 11-13

Is the raising of Lazarus (four days dead!) Jesus’ greatest miracle? Maybe. Walking on water, calming the storm, feeding the multitudes would also be contenders. But if the raising of Lazarus is not definitively Jesus’ greatest miracle, it is definitely His most emotional miracle. I see emotions in Jesus in this miracle that I don’t see when He raised the widow of Nain’s son and Jairus’s daughter. And when Jesus exercised dominion over the elements, He seemed almost nonchalant about it. But there’s nothing nonchalant in Jesus’ demeanor in the raising of Lazarus. Instead, Jesus is troubled, He groans, He cries — in a word, Jesus is upset. I’m not sure we’ve seen this side of Jesus before.

Why was Jesus upset? Was it because Lazarus , Martha and Mary were His friends? Surely that must be part of it. On the other hand, Jesus knew what He was going to do days before He arrived in Bethany. He knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus and turn their mourning into dancing. So something deeper must have been going on. I think Jesus wept for the billions of times people gather at a grave and shed bitter tears. Jesus fully entered into the greatest sorrows of the human race.

This is why Jesus came: That death might not be eternally the victor and the grave might not be forever cruel. As a token of the victory that was to be, Jesus called Lazarus back to the land of the living.

And the crowd went wild.

But the Pharisees reacted to the news of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead with this astonishingly hard-hearted response: “If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” The Pharisees were never interested in finding the Messiah, they just wanted preserve their petty little positions. Pathetic.

But then something strange…

Without knowing what he was doing, the high priest, Caiaphas, from the anointing incumbent upon his office, began to prophesy, “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people.”

With John chapter 12 we enter the final week before the Crucifixion.

In Bethany Jesus is at a meal where Lazarus, Martha and Mary are present. Lazarus had been buried for four days before he was recalled to life. Lazarus had just returned from death. Jesus was headed resolutely toward death. At the meal Mary anointed Jesus for His impending burial. Like Caiaphas, she too was unwittingly prophetic.

May the lament of the Pharisees in John 12:19 be an unwitting prophecy of what we will see in these last days: “Look, the world has gone after Him.”

Jesus intentionally prophesied by what death He would die when He said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” And if we will left up the gospel message of Jesus and Him crucified, He will draw people to Himself.

Much of John 13 centers around the drama of Judas’ betrayal.

When Judas entered willfully into the black hole of damning hypocrisy by sharing a covenant meal with Jesus while intending to betray Him, he unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 41:7…

Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

At that moment Satan entered Judas.

And then these chilling words…

“Having received the piece of bread, he then went out immediately.
And it was night.”

Indeed it was. Judas had departed into a dark night from which he would never return.


Song in my head today…

Lone Pilgrim
by B.F. White and Adger M. Pace

I came to the place where the lone pilgrim lay,
And pensively stood by his tomb,
When in a low whisper I heard something say:
How sweetly I sleep here alone.

The tempest may howl and the loud thunder roar
And gathering storms may arise,
But calm is my feeling, at rest is my soul,
The tears are all wiped from my eyes.

The cause of my Master compelled me from home,
No kindred or relative nigh.
I met the contagion and sank to the tomb,
My soul flew to mansions on high.

Go tell my companion and children most dear
To weep not for me now I’m gone.
The same hand that led me through seas most severe
Has kindly assisted me home.


I’m really looking forward to the Delirious? concert at Word of Life tonight.

I hope to see you there.

Death conquered though we slumber,
Seven is the perfect number.