VII. Raising Of Lazarus: Christ's Comprehensive Deliverance From Death

(John 11:1-44)


I.               Introduction

A.    John's Gospel presents only seven miracles of Jesus in His earthly ministry, each of them a sign-miracle that reveals His Person and mission for readers to believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and by believing to receive eternal life, John 20:31; Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978, "Intro. to the Gospel Acc. to John," p. 1492.

B.    Viewing these sign-miracles both strengthens our faith in Christ and offers us talking points in witnessing to the unsaved, so we view the seventh sign-miracle, Christ's raising of Lazarus, for our insight and edification:

II.            Raising Of Lazarus: Christ's Comprehensive Deliverance From Death, John 11:1-44.

A.    Jesus intentionally let Lazarus die that He might reveal His glory of giving victory over death, John 11:1-15:

1.      When Jesus heard that Lazarus of Bethany was ill, though Lazarus was a special friend in a family beloved by the Lord, Christ remained where He was so that Lazarus might physically die, John 11:1-3, 5-6.

2.      Jesus told His disciples that Lazarus' illness was not meant to assign him to a permanent state of physical death, but to glorify the Son of God for the glory of God, John 11:4.

3.      Christ then openly explained to His disciples that He was staying away from Lazarus long enough for him to die, Jesus' reference to Lazarus' "sleeping" being a euphemism for temporary physical death, but that through Lazarus' death, Jesus' disciples would come to believe in Him in a greater way, John 11:7-15.

B.    When Christ arrived at the town of Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters lived, He was informed that Lazarus had not only died, but that his body had already lain in the tomb four days, John 11:16-17.

C.    Accordingly, Lazarus' sister Martha met Jesus, expressing her hurt and great disappointment over Jesus' delay, claiming that had He been there earlier, her brother Lazarus would not have died, John 11:18-21.

D.    Jesus replied that Lazarus would rise again, but Martha only agreed he would rise in the end time, v. 22-24.

E.     Christ then pressed the issue of His resurrection power, telling Martha that He was the resurrection and the life, that those who believed in Him, though they might physically die, would live eternally in the spiritual realm, John 11:25.  In the spiritual realm, believers in Jesus thus never die, but are conscious and live the resurrection life in Christ though they are physically dead, John 11:26; Ibid., Ryrie, ftn. to John 11:25-26.

F.     Martha responded by claiming that she believed that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God, obviously not grasping the depth of Jesus' teaching about the resurrection life of the believer, John 11:27.

G.    When Martha's sensitive sister Mary met Jesus, she fell at His feet in duress and repeated Martha's complaint that had Jesus been there when Lazarus was alive, her brother would not have died, John 11:28-32.

H.    Facing the trauma that Lazarus' death produced for Mary and the Jews who were mourning with her, Jesus groaned in great anger "at the tyranny of Satan who had brought sorrow and death to people through sin," Bible Know. Com., N. T., p. 314; John 11:33.  Christ asked where they had laid the body and entered into the suffering of His loved ones, Himself weeping though He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, v. 34-35.

I.       When Christ arrived at the tomb and ordered that the stone be removed from the cave where the body lay, Martha objected, explaining that by now her brother's body was fetid through decomposition, John 11:36-39b.

J.      Jesus replied that He had told her that if she believed she would see God's glory, John 11:40 with 11:23-26.

K.    The stone was removed, and Jesus publicly addressed God the Father, thanking Him for hearing His prayer regarding this event that onlookers might believe that God the Father had sent Him, John 11:41-42.

L.     Having thus publicly thanked God the Father, Jesus loudly addressed Lazarus, commanding him to come forth, and Lazarus came out of the tomb bound hand and foot in typical Jewish grave clothes, John 11:43-44a.

M.   Jesus then ordered the shocked onlookers to untie Lazarus and let him go, John 11:44b.


Lesson: By letting Lazarus die, be buried and have his body significantly decompose for four days in a tomb before raising him to full health from the dead, Jesus powerfully displayed the truth that He was the comprehensive Resurrection Life of believers both in the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm.


Application: (1) May we trust in Christ for spiritual resurrection life.  (2) May we be comforted at the physical death of a believer, knowing he is in God's presence (2 Corinthians 5:8) and is fully conscious there, John 11:26.  (3) May we look forward to our physical resurrection at the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 3:13-18, the physical resurrection of Old Testament saints and Great Tribulation saints at the start of the Messianic Kingdom in Daniel 12:2, 13 and Revelation 20:4, 6 respectively and the resurrection of Kingdom saints at the end of the Kingdom.