The Death & Resurrection of Lazarus (Part 5)
"Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, 'Take away the stone.' Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.' Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?' Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.' Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Loose him, and let him go'" (John 11:38-44).

The tomb is described here as a cave with a stone lying against it (i.e., the opening). Jesus asks those present to remove the stone. Although He could have miraculously removed it, there was no need to do such. Miracles only begin where human power ends.

Martha evidently thought that Jesus wanted to look at the body, and she shudders at the thought. She felt it necessary to remind Him of how long Lazarus had been buried and the unpleasant state his body would be in. She still shows no expectation that Lazarus would be resurrected within minutes. It is difficult to know if Mary would have spoken these words if Martha hadn't. Perhaps she would have silently watched regardless.

"Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" I believe Jesus is referring to His private conversation with Martha. Although no comment to this effect was recorded by John, Jesus could have easily spoken these words to her at that time. There is no need to assume that the messenger of 11:4 brought back a message from Jesus to the sisters.

If the sisters would have enough faith to allow the stone to be removed, then they would see the glory of God! However, if they had doubted and not permitted the tomb to be opened, then Lazarus would have remained dead.

"Father, I thank You that You have heard Me" (John 11:41). Jesus knew that it was also the Father's will to raise Lazarus, and for this He is grateful. It should be observed that the physical position of one's body is irrelevant when praying. Jesus prayed with His head up and eyes open on this occasion!

"And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me" (cf. 9:31). Jesus makes this public acknowledgement for the benefit of those present, not because such needed to be done to resurrect His friend. He desires that everyone know that He does what He does because of God the Father's authority.

Jesus then cried with a loud voice - "Lazarus, come forth!" Jesus didn't use charms, incantations, or other questionable methods. He merely spoke the words, loudly as a sign of His personal authority. He wanted everyone present to know that Lazarus came forth because of His command.

Some have commented that He specifically uttered the name "Lazarus" in order to prevent all the dead from rising at that moment! On that final day, the resurrection of all mankind to immortality will also be at the voice of Christ (cf. 5:28,29).

Immediately upon the words of Jesus, Lazarus came forth! It is impossible to know whether his legs had been wrapped separately in preparation for burial or if they had been wrapped together. If they were wrapped together then this is a two-fold miracle: (1) Lazarus coming back to life and (2) Lazarus "floating" to the opening of the tomb.

Certainly the joy of the sisters at this sight would have far outweighed the grief they had endured over the four-day period!

The brevity with which this great event is recorded and the absence of words like "amazing," "fantastic," "stupendous," "marvelous," etc., are strong indicators of divine inspiration. Uninspired human beings simply wouldn't write this way about such an "awesome" event!

"Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did" (John 11:45,46).

"Many" of those who witnessed this event believed in Jesus as a result. These individuals had good hearts in that they were willing to consider the evidence and come to the only rational conclusion possible; that is, God was with Jesus and His message should be believed and obeyed.

But, sadly, there were others who still rejected Jesus, though they couldn't deny the miracle. They heard and witnessed the same things that those who believed did, yet because they didn't want to believe, they didn't. There was probably not a more powerful miracle that was witnessed by men than the raising of Lazarus, yet some would continue to choose unbelief. How very tragic (cf. Luke 16:31)!

Instead of developing faith, they went to Jesus' enemies (the Pharisees) and reported His activities so that they might go about nullifying its effects, if possible. The distinction John makes in the text between these two groups seems to indicate that this was an action of hostility against Jesus.