Read: John 11:45-57
So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. (John 11:53 ESV)
An undeniable miracle had occurred in full sight and knowledge of many people. A dead man was no longer dead. Witnesses confirmed it. Critics acknowledged it. The religious leaders didn’t know what to do with it.
Jesus was obviously beyond them. He was shaking up the status quo and the bureaucratic religious establishment was terrified. They were afraid of their Roman conquerors. They were afraid of losing their hold over the people. They were afraid they would lose their lucrative system of religious robbery. They did what fearful people do. They made plans.
According to their twisted minds the only way to solve the problem was to remove Jesus from the scene. So the formation of the plan to have Jesus murdered began. The men entrusted to lead the people to God ignored God’s Son, schemed to murder him, and felt right about doing it.
From that day on the fear of men compelled them toward great evil. From that day on the willful stubbornness of a select few plotted the death of innocence. From that day on men planning to kill God were unknowingly ushering in the promised salvation of mankind.
Read: John 11:38-44
When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” (John 11:43 ESV)
The time had come. Jesus had travelled to Bethany to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead. He reminded onlookers to believe. He commanded the stone to be rolled away. He prayed aloud for those nearby to hear. And then he called to Lazarus to live again and exit the tomb.
I’m not sure I can even imagine what that must have been like. They all saw it, all experienced, all knew what had just happened. Jesus, this man that was supposed to be a simple carpenter from nowhere—had become a premiere rabbi. He was saying things priests didn’t say. He was helping people priests didn’t help. He was doing things priests couldn’t do.
The revivification of Lazarus was a turning point. It was undeniable. Someone that was clearly dead had been returned to life. It was a declarative miracle of a nature that surpassed all his precious public works. Jesus publicly and boldly declared himself to be master over life itself. He called Lazarus out of the grave, out of death, out of the past, into a kind of newness of life that only Jesus could give.
I really believe that Jesus is still doing that. He is still calling people to leave their tombs, leave their life of death, and leave behind their pasts to pursue newness, to pursue him. I’m so glad that one day I felt the compelling call of Christ stir within my soul and chose to come out of darkness into light. What is Christ calling you out of?
Read: John 11:28-37
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36 ESV)
One of the great themes to take away from the truth of Jesus the Son of God is that God has empathy for us. Jesus experienced pain. He felt with loss. He knew what it was to be tired, to be hungry, to be sorrowful. He was, and is, God with us.
When Jesus’ friend Lazarus died he went to see the family, knowing that Lazarus was to be raised back to life. But that knowledge did not stop Jesus from mourning with Mary and Martha. They were his friends. They were in deep lain over the loss of their brother. Jesus shared in that pain.
God has great empathy for you and I. It is a remarkable testimony to the breadth and depth of His great love for us that He feels so strongly for us in the midst of trying times, because He knows the end. God is all knowing and all powerful. He has the end and the means all within His effortless grasp. Yet, He still hurts with us. Not in a kind of way that in any way diminishes Him, but it is the kind of shared feeling one experiences between those who are extremely close.
When my close friends hurt I hurt with them. When someone I love experiences loss my heart goes out to them. I long to comfort and console them. Jesus felt that way about Lazarus’ family. He feels that way about you and I as well. Oh, how he loves us!
Read: John 11:17-27
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21 ESV)
Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died. He and his disciples arrived at Bethany in Judea after he had been in the tomb for four days. He was met with a mixed reception. Mary, the one known for anointing his feet with costly perfume, stayed at the house while Martha met his party.
Martha’s reaction was one shared by many of us during times of deep uncertainty and confusion. She questioned Jesus and his timing. She blamed God. Have you ever done that? I know I have. It is easy to doubt God’s timing in a situation.
During the seasons of life when we are deeply tempted to question God we would do well to realize that questioning Him is missing the point. Sure we feel justified in casting our doubts upon Him, but the truth is that God is the only assured focal point for all reverent belief. He is the only sure thing.
Martha acknowledged that. She confessed her belief in Jesus as the Christ, and his power to raise her brother to life. But it was so much bigger than that. She moved from doubt and blame to accepting Jesus’ ability to meet her immediate need. This served as a catalyst to her help her recognize her belief in Jesus as the way to meet the needs she wasn’t even yet aware of. The next time we are tempted to doubt Jesus, blame Jesus, or question Jesus we would be well served to remember the example of Martha.
Read: John 11:1-16
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” (John 11:14, 15 ESV)
Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were Jesus’ friends. There are a few different stories from the gospels that include them. Each of them are significant in their own right, but the account of Lazarus is both unique and powerful.
Jesus heard that his dear friend Lazarus was sick and decided that it was time to return to Judea. It was a trip that concerned the disciples due to some threats that had been made. Jesus’ comment about both his friend’s death, and the purpose behind his trip is revealing.
Jesus was glad that his friend had died. What a strange comment. Typically only the worst sort of sociopaths could find enjoyment in the death of another. But Jesus is no lunatic, he is beyond us. He was glad, not for the death, the gospel writer does say that Lazarus’ death brought him to tears. No, Jesus was glad because the death of someone the disciples knew brought about an opportunity for them to experience the reviving power of Christ first hand.
I usually only have a very limited perspective on personal tragedy or hardship. I find great difficulty in ascertaining the proverbial silver lining. But Jesus knew the reality of Lazarus’ situation. He knew that for his friend there was still life to be lived. There was still work to be done.
It would serve us well to remember the example of Lazarus when we are faced with difficulty. God does not abandon us in hard times. I believe He actually draws closer. You may never know as trouble sets in, Jesus may be looking at it as an opportunity to work a great thing in your life.
Read: Luke 18:31-34
And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished.” (Luke 18:31 ESV)
The Old Testament is crammed full of prophetic predictions about the Messiah. The young Jewish prophet Daniel wrote of the Messiah, calling him the Son of Man—a phrase Jesus often used to refer to himself. Jesus knew the stories. He knew their original inspiration and he was the ultimate fulfillment. Everything written by all of God’s prophets across the entirety of the scope of human history would become true.
Can you imagine the enormity of realizing that hundreds of predictions had been written about your life and death? It would be staggering to say the least. Jesus handled it, just as he handled everything else. He knew. He accepted. He embraced. And, he used it as a an opportunity to teach and train his disciples.
What if someone had written a book about your life hundreds of years before you were born? What if every facet, from birth to public life, came true? For Jesus it did. Everything written came to pass. The plan of God was written by men inspired by God. Then it was accomplished by God, all of it, everything written.
Read: Mark 10:32-34
And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” (Mark 10:34 ESV)
Jesus knew what was to come. He spent three impactful years pouring into his disciples because of what was coming. He repeated the events to come to them multiple times, preparing their hearts and minds for the hardship. They were often confused when he spoke of his tribulations to come. They didn’t comprehend the shifting that would take place when they would become the stewards of Christianity within the world.
Jesus did not hold back. He gave them the details of what was to be done to them. “They will mock,” he said—and they did. They mocked him, and his disciples after him. Many today are still being mocked for being a disciple of Jesus. “They will spit,” he said. Christianity has been the brunt of shameful displays of willful disrespect. “They will flog,” he warned. Beatings have echoed across the centuries as people joined with their Savior in a willingness to endure beatings for the sake of the Gospel. “They will kill,” he declared, and so they did, and so they have, and so they will. Wherever and whenever the uncompromised message of Jesus is spread people will die for it.
“He will rise,” Jesus promised. Because men may kill one another, they may hate the message and end the messenger, they may reject the truth—they may even dare to kill God, but He will rise. That was the fulfilled promise of Christ. It was fulfilled for him, by him, and through him on the third day. It will be fulfilled in all who have laid down their lives in pursuit of him, they will rise after him.