By Gene Price
Pastor, Tumbling Creek Baptist Church, Gleason
Jesus tells the disciples that He is going back to Judea because Lazarus has fallen asleep (died). The disciples are surprised that Jesus would want to go back there, because in John 10:31 the Jews tried to stone Him on his last visit to Judea. Jesus is teaching the disciples that they should not be afraid of death. People still respond to the death of a loved one with the same question that Job once asked: “If a man dies, shall he live again?” Jesus is going to use this occasion to answer that question.
Jesus shows by resurrecting Lazarus that He has power over death. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. The first of the resurrections that Jesus performed was the widow of Nain’s son. Then Jesus also showed His power over death by raising the young daughter of Jairus, a synagogue leader. Resuscitation is a return to life, but eventually physical death comes again.
Jesus offers us the hope of a new life now. Jesus said, “Even if he dies, he will live.” The greatest enemy of man is death but Jesus takes away that fear of death. The one who believes or commits himself to Jesus will live. The same power that raised Lazarus from the dead is available to all who trust in Jesus. Therefore, Jesus gives us the power to live for Him on this earth. Eternal life begins the moment a person receives Jesus. Jesus gives life to all who will believe in Him and those who believe will live eternally.
When Jesus arrives, Martha tells Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Written across their faces and woven into their words was the question many a suffering friend of God has asked, “Lord, why did you let this happen? Why didn’t you prevent this disease, or accident or tragedy?” How do we relate sorrow with an all powerful Savior who is supposed to love? Remember that God did not spare His own Son, nor does He spare His people from the ordinary hurts of life. In verse 27, Martha makes one of the greatest affirmations of Jesus’ Messiah-ship, perhaps greater than Peter’s confession, for this was made in the pit of despondency. She said, “I believe You are the Christ, the Son of God, who comes into the world.” In spite of the circumstances around Martha, she believed that she could turn her sorrow over to Jesus and ask the “What now?” of faith and faithfulness.
This story of Lazarus reminds us that Jesus can do even greater things than our limited knowledge allows. When a person accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, He always gives new life in Him both now and in the life to come. Thank God, a person who knows Jesus does not have to fear death now and forever.