When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11 ESV)
Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead and the religious people went nuts. They started making plans to kill Jesus. But that wasn’t enough. Even had they killed Jesus, which they did, there was still the Lazarus problem for them.
Had they actually been able to remove Jesus there was still the fact that he raised Lazarus to life. A dead man living again is powerful evidence in favor for the reality of Jesus’ supernatural power and divine origin. So they went beyond the plan to kill Jesus and started making plans to kill Lazarus as well.
The resurrection of Lazarus is a historical fact, even as much so as the resurrection of Jesus. People wanted to refute Lazarus’ miraculous reviving. The power players wanted to remove him as evidence in the situation.
Today Christianity is often under assault. Historical revisionists try to blot out the truth of the resurrection and downplay the influence of Christianity on our culture. Typically their first line of attack is to undermine, rewrite, or ignore, the overwhelming historical evidence in favor of the orthodox view of Christ, his miracles, nature, and resurrection.
To make this even more personal—we have an instinct to act the same way sometimes. When we do something that makes us feel a tinge of guilt we try to erase the evidence. However small that might be. I’m sure you could think of your own personal example.
The Lazarus problem faces all of us. Lazarus was brought back by Jesus. Jesus was brought back by himself. We face the eventuality of life beyond death. None of us have experienced it as of yet, but there is coming a day when it will be irrefutable. And not only do we face the awesomely confounding prospect of resurrected eternity with Christ, we also may embrace the spiritual reality of a resurrected soul in this life.
Our choices have led us to death, destruction, and disaster. Jesus raises us up out of that. Lazarus wasn’t a problem for Jesus. And neither are you.