Lazarus raised from death after four days in the grave

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.” (John 11:45-46)

In these two verses, there are two phrases which introduce our theme. In verse 45, we read of “what things which Jesus did”; and in verse 46, we read of “what things Jesus had done”. For the full account of the things which Jesus did during His earthly life and ministry, we need to read the whole of the four Gospels. Luke, in writing the Book of Acts tells us that in his Gospel he recorded “all that Jesus begun both to do and teach.”(Acts 1:1). Matthew, Mark and John did the same, and if we would get the complete picture of all that Jesus did during His time on earth, we must read all the four Gospels.

Some people believe that there are contradictions in the accounts given to us by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, but this is a mistaken idea, for there is a perfect harmony between the four records. Matthew presents the LORD Jesus as the King, Mark presents Him as a servant of Jehovah; Luke presents Him as a perfect man; and John in his record, emphasizes our Lord’s deity and declares Him as the Son of God. Therefore, in order to get the complete picture of our wonderful Saviour, we need to place the four Gospel accounts together and by doing so, we see the glory of His Person and nature of His ministry.

In our text above, the apostle John is making reference to the particular things which Jesus had done in connection with the raising of Lazarus, and this very naturally makes us ask: What things had Jesus done? In order to gain the full answer to this question, we need to read the whole chapter, which gives us a most thrilling, dramatic and absorbing record of the sovereign love, power, grace and understanding of our Lord. As we read it, we shall learn some valuable lessons.

What things did Jesus do?

1. The first thing which Jesus did was: He received a very urgent request for help, but instead of responding at once, He deliberately delayed giving His help. Notice exactly what happened. In Bethany, Jesus had three special friends – Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Lazarus became sick and his conditioned deteriorated so rapidly that Martha and Mary, his sisters, sent for Jesus.

When Jesus heard that His friend was so ill, what did He do? Did He at once set off for Bethany to give His help? No, contrary to what we would have expected, that is exactly what He did not do. This is the first thing to notice in this incident, for in verse 6 we read that when Jesus “had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.”

This delay was quite deliberate for verse 7 goes on: state what verse 7 says.

This is an amazing thing, and yet have we not had experiences like this? We have wanted help, and we have asked the Lord to undertake for us (Isaiah 38:14b), but our prayer had not been answered at once, and our loved ones died before the Lord’s help came.

Well, this is exactly what happened in Bethany over 2,000  years ago. This is what Jesus did then, and it is what He often does today. What was, and is, the meaning of His action? It will help us if we take careful note of the following sequence:

1. Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus: (verse 5)

2.  Jesus knew of their great trouble: (verse 3)

3. Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying: (verse 32)

4.  Jesus did not prevent the death of His friend: (verse 37)

5.  Our Lord delayed for two days before He set out for Bethany: (verse 6 and 17)

6.   He gave His help: (verse 43-44)

7.  What He gave was better than what they had asked Him: (verse 40)

Just think of these seven very important truths. For they all relate to us. The Lord loves us. He knows all about our troubles. He can prevent our troubles if it is His will to do so. Very often, although He hears our cry for help, and is ever faithful in His promise to hear and answer our prayers, He does not always in the way, or at the time, we expect or want. He does not answer us the time we expect or want. He does not prevent us from experiencing trials and even loss. He often delays, before answering our prayers and giving His help. He always gives His help, when it is His will and His time to do so. And what He gives is always better that that which we ask for or think we need most.

Why did Jesus deal with Martha, Mary and Lazarus in this way and why does He deal with us in this way? There are two reasons: First, He deals with His children in this way in order that their trouble and time of testing might provide a situation in which the glory of God can be revealed:“ This sickness is… for the glory of God” (verse 4)

The second reason why He deals with His children in this way is in order that their faith must be put to the test and develops: “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.” (verse 15)

These, then, are two reasons why our Lord often deals with us in the same way today, by delaying the help we need, and by allowing bereavement, trial and weeping.

2. There is one question which is frequently asked by many people: Does Jesus care when our loved one is seriously ill, are injured or even dies? We wonder sometimes whether He does care for us and hear our cry for help. He delays giving the help which might have saved our loved ones.

Well, of course Jesus cares! We only have to read on in the chapter to be assured of this fact. For example, verses 32-35.

Pastor Johnson F. Odesola is the Continental Overseer, Continent 3 as well as the Assistant General Overseer in the Redeemed Christian Church of God.
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