Our Lord, Christ Jesus, always said that he who will believe in Him will never perish, but will be granted eternal life. Standing true to His statement, Jesus performed many miracles during his ministry so that people may see for themselves and believe. One such miracle was the Resurrection of Lazarus. SpiritualRay gives you a summary of the incidence when Lazarus was raised from the dead by our Savior.
Where the Name Stands True to its Meaning!
Did you know? The name ‘Lazarus’ comes from the Hebrew word אלעזר, Elʿāzār (Eleazar), which actually means ‘God is my help’ or ‘God has helped’. Didn’t He indeed?
Isn’t it (or not) an extraordinary coincidence that a man whose name itself means being helped by God is actually the one who has now become the supreme example that God does come to rescue those whom He loves, and who believe in Him. In this case, it was none other than His only son, our Savior Jesus Christ, who raised Lazarus from the dead, right out of the tomb he was buried in.
Lazarus was one of the few whom Jesus raised from the dead during His ministry on earth. This incidence is recorded in the New Testament, in the Gospel of Saint John, chapter 11, verses 1 to 44. This miracle spells God’s glory all throughout, as if all the events that happened, and were happening, were organized so that they who witness this miracle would believe that this “teacher” who resides among them is none other than the right hand of God, His only Son! At times, when our prayers aren’t answered, doubts enter our mind. Such was the case when Lazarus’ sisters called out for Jesus when he was ill. Jesus didn’t go to him immediately, but waited for two days, till the time he died. Quite cruel, one may say, but God knows the plan He has for those who believe in Him, and Lazarus’ story is just about that.
Jesus Raises Lazarus from Death
Before we comment and explain about this miracle, let us first go through the scripture portion and read the incidence thoroughly, so as to gain a better understanding of the implication and purpose behind this miracle of Jesus. The following text has been taken from the Gospel of Saint John 11:1-44, from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible.
The Death of Lazarus
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this, he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 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 from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
After Lazarus was resurrected by the Lord, all those who stood there were astonished. While some of those Jews actually started believing, some went ahead and informed the Pharisees of this miracle. This eventually led to the Crucifixion of Jesus. Some commentators said in this reference that the resurrection of Lazarus became the death of Jesus. Nonetheless, whatever happened, happened so that God may be glorified and that Jesus accomplishes the sole reason why He came on earth―to die a shameful death to save us sinners, and rise again to ascend into heaven!
Summary and Explanation
This story not only highlights the resurrection of Lazarus, but also the emotions that the pivotal people of this incidence went through, including Jesus Himself! When the sisters―Mary and Martha―call out for Him so as to save their ill brother Lazarus, who was on the verge of dying, Jesus refused to go to Him immediately, and instead, waited for two days. This refusal of help must have created questions in the mind of the two sisters, who were already troubled and grieved by their brother’s plight. Also, note that Jesus was in hiding from the Jews who were looking for Him so that He could be harmed. However, when the time was right, He (without caring about His own safety) made His journey to Judea, to answer the call of Mary and Martha.
Jesus had replied to the messenger, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” While Jesus already knew that Lazarus’ death was God’s plan to make the Jews (and now the entire world) realize the power of God, the others didn’t, including His very own disciples. This can be observed in the part where Jesus decide to leave for Judea after two days when Lazarus had already died. When Jesus says, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.“, the disciples misunderstand His words, thinking that He was speaking of normal sleep, not death. However, even in the midst of the lack of understanding His words, the disciples were ready to accompany Him to a dangerous journey that could risk His life, saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.“
A lot of events that took place during Lazarus’ death and resurrection are worth paying attention to, so as to clearly understand their actual implication. Let us go through the aforementioned excerpt from the Bible, section-wise.
✝ The Death of Lazarus
Lazarus, the man who died, was someone whom Jesus loved, someone who believed in Him. Not only Lazarus, but even his sisters Mary and Martha were loved by our Savior. What happens when someone tells us, that the one we love needs our help? Do we procrastinate, wait for our loved one to suffer all the more? No, not even the wicked ones would do this to the ones they love. But, Jesus did so. He let Lazarus die by not going to His rescue immediately. However, Jesus’ delay was nothing but His waiting for the right moment when “the Son of God may be glorified through it.“
He didn’t seek glory by suffering or death, but by resurrection and life. The death of Lazarus is the initial phase when our call is answered late. When we may often feel that God has forsaken us, He might just be waiting for the right moment, so that He may bless us with more than what we asked for. However, in the scripture we see that with Lazarus’ death also stumbled the faith of many Jews, including Martha and Mary. Even His disciples couldn’t understand His intentions, which is why Jesus says, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.“
✝ I Am the Resurrection and the Life
Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” These words are not just words, but are the ultimate truth for all those who believe in the Lord. All we need to do, is have irrevocable faith in Him, and He shall surely take us out from the tomb of the dead. Such faith He sees in Martha whom He meets before entering the village. Undoubtedly she had doubts in her mind about Jesus not answering to her call in time, but in spite of all that, she still believed in Him. This becomes evident when she says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.“
Clearly she was faithful, but still she didn’t understand the fact that Jesus had come all the way to Judea not to console her, or as she understood, resurrect her brother on the last day of judgment. He was there to perform a miracle; do something that will make everyone around believe that He was indeed the only Son of God, the giver of life.
✝ Jesus Weeps
This is a crucial section of the story, for oftentimes, it is not understood clearly because of the differences that arise due to translation from Hebrew to English. Where the English translation of the scripture says, “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.“, the word ‘moved’ doesn’t imply an emotional or sentimental feeling. In reality, the word used was “embrimaomai, which means, “to snort with anger.” Also, the Hebrew word used for ‘troubled’ was “tarasso”, which means, “agitated.” Jesus doesn’t weep because of the crying of the people, He weeps because of the disbelief they had within themselves.
✝ Jesus Raises Lazarus
His heart is agitated all the more when He proceeds to the tomb and Martha says, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Yes, Martha’s concern was natural to the human world where a dead body starts decaying if it had been buried since four days. But Jesus was set to do a miracle, and Martha too, didn’t understand Him. His disappointment reflects when He questions Martha, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?“
Lazarus’ resurrection was a miracle that was destined to happen, and Jesus knew this very well. Not only was this meant to happen for the glory of God and His Son, but it was also essential to set in motion the events that would lead to Christ’s Crucifixion. Working as per the will of the Father, Jesus lifts up his eyes and prays to the Father, only so that those that witness may believe in God’s glory. He utters these words, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.“
Finally, after acknowledging God’s hand in what is to come, Jesus calls out Lazarus’ name and commands him to come out. Also, note what the scripture says, “… he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out’.” The word ‘cried’ here refers to more of a shout, as He intended everyone in the crowd to listen to His words … and not only did they listen, but saw with their own eyes when Lazarus came out from his tomb. Or, when he came back to the world of the living from the world of the dead.
What grieves our Lord the most is disbelief and doubt. Therefore, Lazarus’ resurrection can also be synonymous with our faith’s resurrection, when we doubt in God’s glory and He, in His due time, gives us more than we thought of. Let us all take an oath that we shall never doubt His words and wait for His coming. He will never avoid our plea, but will come at the right time to resurrect us from our sinful ways. His words are not just words, they are a promise. He has the power over the living and the dead, and He will do all in His power to help us when we need Him.
Whenever your faith stumbles in Him, remember the words He said, as written in Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Amen.