The Raising of Lazarus
From the Gospel of John, Chapter 11, NIV.
The story of Lazarus in the New Testament of the Christian Bible is a profound and sacred testimony of the power of God’s love through His life in Jesus. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, lived in Bethany which was a small village located on the southeastern slope of the Mount of Olives. It is written that Bethany was located about 2 miles from Jerusalem, and that on more than one occasion Jesus went there for rest with his disciples. In doing so, he came to know Lazarus and his sisters. The Gospel of John tells us that he and his sisters were much-loved by Jesus and that when Lazarus became sick, his sisters sent for Jesus to come and save him from his impending death. However, when Jesus arrived, Lazarus had already died and been lain to rest. Mary and Martha both expressed their deepest faith in Jesus when they said to him “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (vs 21 and 32). Jesus was deeply-moved by their faith in Him, and he wept over the death of Lazarus (vs 35).
It was in this hillside village of Bethany that Jesus ordered the stone that was blocking the tomb to be removed, and then called to Lazarus to come out of the tomb where he had lain dead for 4 days. There was mention of an odor, a “stench”, that would be associated with the length of time he had been dead, but Jesus was undeterred and pressed on. “Lazarus, come out” he spoke in a loud voice. “Come forth!” And behold, Lazarus came out, “…his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face” (vs 44). The man was alive, to the amazement and joy of his sisters and those gathered to witness the miracle. There must have been a moment of complete and stunned silence from the crowd that had gathered, at the appearance of their friend and brother.
There is little account as to what happened in the village following Lazarus’s emergence from the tomb but we can only imagine the tears of joy and even utter disbelief in the wake of so many other miracles for which Jesus was known. The miracle of Jesus bringing his much-loved Lazarus back to life was the third of this nature: he had raised the twelve-year-old daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8: 54-56), as well as the only son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7:11-15).
To fundamentally grasp the magnitude of what unfolded that day in Bethany is impossible for many. And yet, through the lens of faith it has resonated for centuries in the hearts of Believers around the world as a clear and present message that “…with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).
Faith is a gift. Mary and Martha clearly had it, and it brought them great joy in the face of adversity. It lives in all of us whether we acknowledge it or not and many don’t, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there waiting to unfold in the heart of every man, woman and child. The love of God for all of His creation is an eternal and all-abiding Truth that will never be lost because it is not in Its nature to be lost. It just is. A thousand suns is not even a speck of light on the vast and fathomless ocean of God’s love for all of Us. Its Essence is one of the inexplicable mysteries of our life here on Earth.