Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 11:33 (Holman) When Jesus saw her crying, and the Jews who had come with her crying, He was angry in His spirit and deeply moved.
Martha had shown a ray of hope. Jesus answered her directly. Mary was in total despair. Jesus did not answer her. The sisters needed different treatments. Jesus was sensitive to their needs. Words could have done little to help Mary. Her soul was completely engulfed in, and overwhelmed by, grief. Silently sharing her weeping helped most at this point.
This scene vividly brought home to Jesus the iron grip in which people are clasped by death. Christ was broken over the sisters= sorrowing, and was angry at its cause. Jesus was upset at the devastating consequences of sin.
Jesus was indignant at this momentary triumph of evil. His adversary, the Devil, had brought sin and death into the world and now Jesus was seeing in microcosm the pain it causes for all mankind.
Jesus did nothing to stop the hurt and pain He sensed in Himself over our plight. He let Himself be tormented by our griefs. He took away our suffering by taking it on Himself (Matthew 8:17; 1 Peter 2:24).
John 11:34-35 AWhere have you put him?@ He asked. ALord,@ they told Him, Acome and see.@ Jesus wept.
After Jesus had sensed their pain, by a feeling of horror and indignation, this sudden request seems strange. But its abruptness indicates effort to suppress emotion, and determination to lose no time in ending this grief. He was finding it difficult to wait. Jesus was probably restraining an impulse to raise Lazarus immediately.
Jesus wept. The lightning bolt of anger in him was followed by a rain of pity and sorrow. This miracle was unique. It was preceded by a storm of emotion that shook the frame of our Master.
John 11:36-37 So the Jews said, ASee how He loved him!@ But some of them said, ACouldn=t He who opened the blind man=s eyes also have kept this man from dying?@
Plenty of witnesses had gathered. This miracle would be impossible to hide and would cost Jesus a heavy price. Jesus knew it would precipitate the final movements to His own death. By removing Lazarus from the grave, Jesus assured His own entrance into one.
The onlookers were impressed with Jesus= display of emotion, but misinterpreted His tears as frustration. The crowd felt the tears showed much love, but a love powerless to help.
Unknown to the onlookers was the fact Jesus was not coming to the grave as an idle spectator. He came as a wrestler prepared for battle. Before Him stood a tyrannical foe that had to be defeated.
John 11:38-39 Then Jesus, angry in Himself again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. ARemove the stone,@ Jesus said. Martha, the dead man=s sister, told Him, ALord, he already stinks. It=s been four days.@
Martha probably thought Jesus wanted to view the remains of His departed friend. She was horrified by the thought of anyone looking on the repulsive sight of her brother=s putrefying corpse. She had a tenderness that naturally shrank from disclosing the ravages of death on her beloved.
It was natural for Martha to respond this way. Exposing the remains would offend the bystanders, embarrass the sisters, and show disrespect for Lazarus.
John 11:40 Jesus said to her, ADidn=t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?@
We do not know when Jesus first related this statement to Martha. Notice it is not the miracle itself that depends on Martha=s faith. Jesus will raise Lazarus whether anyone believes or not. Martha=s faith is the condition for her being allowed to see God=s glory in the miracle.
A person see a thousand miracles, but without faith will never see God=s glory in them. The crowd would see a miracle; Martha would see the glory.
Jesus sought God=s glory. He wanted people to see God as God. This is a powerful and wonderful motive. Elijah mocked the prophets of Baal, and prayed, AAnswer me, Lord! Answer me so that this people will know that You, Yahweh, are God@ (1 Kings 18:37).
We would see more miracles if we were to quit asking for ourselves, and put God in the central place. We need to ask, Aare our prayers for our best interest, or God=s? Our answer will reveal much about the power of our prayers.
John 11:41-42 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes and said, AFather, I thank You that You heard Me. I know that You always hear Me, but because of the crowd standing here I said this, so they may believe You sent Me.@
Jesus thanked God before the miracle occurred. He knew His prayer had been answered before its results were visible. Jesus wanted God to receive all the credit. Hence, He praised God before the resurrection, for there would be such confusion afterwards that there would be no chance to give God due honor.
A calm came over Jesus. There is a contrast to His former weeping and anger. The tremor and tumult have left, though He was now standing face to face with the moment of crisis. The contrast awed the gazers. No one dared to interrupt Him.
We often request that things be done in our time and in our way. We also ask God for what He may or may not, see fit to grant. Jesus prayed with confidence because He lived in such a close relationship to the Father that he never asked for anything amiss.
Jesus= prayers were different from most of ours. He prayed to know God=s will. The true nature of prayer is to find God=s will, rather than making requests for things that are contingent.
John 11:43-44 After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, ALazarus, come out!@ The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ALoose him and let him go.@
As the Master walked to the grave, He was surrounded by mourners and skeptics. All this surrounding commotion was a huge contrast to what lay ahead. In the tomb was a man in whom decay had set in.
Without the Master, this lane to the grave would have been named Hopeless Despair. Human power stood helpless here.
Musicians, try your charms. Educators, teach and philosophize. Preachers, preach. Physicians, bring your strongest medicine. Generals, use military strength. Kings, issue edicts.
They were all useless here. Death sat smugly on a corpse, laughing at them all, AI have Lazarus, no one can touch him.@
But suddenly death=s grim grin becomes a frightened frown. The red hot flush of Hell on His face turned ashen pale. Something shattered his countenance, turned his smugness to panic. His whole body was trembling in terror, for Jesus had arrived at the tomb and was commanding that the stone be removed.
Death knew the power of this foe. Jesus had already cheated death twice. While Jesus thanked the Father, death clutched its pray and screamed for help. Demons of Hell were summoned to keep Lazarus= spirit from re-entering this body. This corpse had to be kept in the realm of death. But it was of no avail.
The Hero approached the tomb as a Champion prepared for conflict (Calvin). Jesus was disturbed at death (v. 33) and at the one who had the power of death. His blow was not delivered in cold unconcern, but with flaming wrath against the foe. This was open warfare.
As Jesus assaulted the bastions of death, He gave the shout of a soldier engaging an attack. This is the only place where Jesus is said to have shouted. The volume in His voice illustrated the greatness of His work. He was displaying total authority. His shout was a stark contrast to the mutterings and incantations commonly used by magicians in His day.
The shout contained three words, translated as ALazarus, come out.@ The two words of command are adverbs of place used here as imperatives. Jesus did not offer a request. He issued a command which could be rendered AHere! Outside!@
The result was a fourfold miracle. One, Lazarus= spirit was retrieved from another world. Even Heaven itself was subject to Jesus= command.
Lazarus was already very far away from this rock cave, but Jesus= voice penetrated the unseen world and reached Lazarus from a long distance. When Jesus cried AHere!: Lazarus came.
An unbroken relationship existed between Lazarus and Jesus. Where Lazarus was, he realized his name was being called. He heard, recognized, and he obeyed the voice. Not even death can sever the bond between Jesus and us.
Two, life was restored to the putrefied body. The forces of Hell were thwarted. The roaring lion, Satan, had clutched the lifeless corpse in his fangs and had surrounded it with his accomplices. But when Jesus= words were spoken, the devil had to retreat. He snarled and growled, but was forced to drop his prey, and slither away in disgrace.
Three, corruption was reversed. The natural laws of decomposition and rigamortis were nullified. This raising of Lazarus was an open display of Christ=s conquest over death.
Four, the body was lifted outside the tomb. The physics of thermodynamics and the law of gravity bowed to Jesus= will. ABound hand and foot@ was expressly stated to reveal the graveclothes prevented all natural motion. The command ALoose him, and let him go@ implied Lazarus could not loose himself or walk away by himself.
The Voice heard at Lazarus= tomb will be even louder on the last day. His call will be heard in every tomb. Until then His voice is heard in softer tones in our hearts through the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.
This physical miracle demonstrated what Jesus wanted to do for us spiritually. He wants to call us forth, to give us life from Heaven. Through Jesus it can be ours.