Reading through the Bible together
In this story Jesus is not the instant healer. He waits after He receives an urgent (emergency) message to come and heal His friend Lazarus. He says, not to worry, Lazarus is sleeping, and death is just like a nap.
Lazarus lived in Bethany, less than 2 miles east of Jerusalem. The little sleepy town nestled on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives ridge. Jesus often prayed there and was hosted by the home of Lazarus and his two sisters. They became “friends like family.” Why did Jesus wait for “the one [He] love[d]” (v.3) to die? It was for God’s glory (vs.4), just like the man born blind who received his sight (John 9:3), so that the disciples “may believe.” (vs.15)
John 11 answers the question Jesus was asked in John 10:36-38. Was He blaspheming because He said He was God’s Son? Some thought He was. Jesus says that they don’t have to believe in Him unless He does the works of His Father, but if He does (raising Lazarus), then they will know that He is in the Father and the Father in Him.
Jesus had previously raised two people from the dead: 1) Jairus’ daughter - He only spoke a word. 2) The long-distance healing of a Roman soldier’s servant in Capernaum. But in this chapter, Jesus waits until Lazarus has been dead for four days, so there is absolutely no question that he is dead. And there is no doubt that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life.
This refers not only to raising the physical dead, but giving life to those who are spiritually dead. Jesus has life in Him! And through Him we can have a “new(er) life” experience. While you may feel like you’re stuck in a spiritual tomb for four days, or forty years, but your Resurrection Savior and LIFE-Giver has not forgotten you! And He loves you! Let Him win your spiritual battles and give you a renewed life. He died on the cross for you, and rose on the third day. So by faith open the tombstone of your heart today to this Great Physician and receive LIFE abundantly!
Christopher Bullock, M.Div.
Pastor in Atlanta, Georgia.
North American Division.