Jesus Our Champion
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 11:43-44 (Holman) 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.@
Jesus walked to Lazarus= tomb surrounded by mourners and skeptics. Without our Master, the lane to any grave is named Hopeless Despair.
Human power stands helpless in a cemetery. Musicians, try your charms. Educators, teach and philosophize. Preachers, preach. Physicians, bring your strongest medicine. Generals, use military strength. Kings, issue edicts. Every human effort is in vain.
All man-made devices were useless at Lazarus= grave. Death sat smugly on a corpse, laughing at everyone, AI have Lazarus, no one can touch him.@
But when Jesus arrived at the tomb and commanded the stone be removed, Satan=s countenance fell. Death=s grim grin became a frightened frown, the red hot flush of Hell on his face turned ashen pale, his smugness turned to panic, his whole body trembled in terror.
Satan knew the power of this Foe. Jesus had already cheated death twice. While Jesus was thanking the Father, Death clutched its prey and screamed for help.
Evil forces knew how vital it was that this corpse be kept in the realm of death. Demons of Hell were summoned to keep Lazarus= spirit from re-entering this body. But it was of no avail.
Our Hero approached the tomb as a Champion. This was open warfare. Jesus was angry at death (v. 33) and at the one who wielded its power.
Christ delivered the crushing blow not in cold unconcern, but with flaming wrath against the foe. Assaulting the bastions of death, Jesus shrieked the shout of a soldier in attack mode.
This is the only place where Jesus is said to have shouted. The volume in His voice illustrated the seriousness of His work. He was displaying total authority.
The shout contained three words, translated as ALazarus, come out.@ The two words of command are adverbs of place used as imperatives. Jesus did not make a request, but issued a command which can 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 on Earth.
Lazarus was very far away from this rock cave when his name was called by Jesus, but the Master=s voice penetrated the unseen world and reached Lazarus long distance. When Jesus cried AHere!@ Lazarus came.
Where Lazarus was, he realized his name was being called. He heard, recognized, and obeyed the voice.
An unbroken relationship existed between Lazarus and Jesus. Not even death can sever the bond between Jesus and us.
Two, life was restored to a putrefied body. Forces of Hell were completely thwarted. The roaring lion, Satan, clutched the lifeless corpse in his fangs and surrounded it with his accomplices. When Jesus spoke, the devil snarled and growled, but was forced to drop his prey, retreat, and slither away in disgrace.
Three, corruption was reversed. The natural laws of decomposition and rigamortis were nullified. This raising of Lazarus openly displayed Christ=s conquest over every aspect and ramification of death.
Four, the body was lifted outside the tomb. The physics of thermodynamics and the law of gravity bowed to Jesus= will when He commanded, AOutside!@
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 Judgment Day. On that 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 wants to do for us spiritually. He wants to call us forth, to give us His life from Heaven.
John 11:45-48 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what He did believed in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, AWhat are we going to do since this man does many signs? If we let Him continue in this way, everybody will believe in Him! Then the Romans will come and remove both our place and our nation.@
How did the crowd respond to Lazarus= resurrection? Many believed, but more disbelieved. Death yielded to Christ easier than many unbelievers did.
The leaders confessed with their own mouths that Jesus had performed many miracles. By acknowledging His credentials, yet denying His commission, they testified against themselves.
They asked, AWhat are we going to do?@ when they should have asked AWhat must we do to be saved?@ AThis man does many signs@ seemed to contradict AIf we let Him continue.@
This miracle at Bethany forced the hand of the religious leaders. They could not let Jesus continue unchecked.
They were afraid if the people rallied to Jesus, it would bring Rome against them. The leaders feared for their place and their nation. Their comfort and careers were on the line.
The religious leaders= panic was ironic. Rome had no jealousy toward Jesus. The Roman governor himself would later find no fault in Jesus.
The revolution they feared could have been stopped by Jesus. Had they accepted Him, their country would have been saved, because their longing zeal for Messiah and freedom would have been peacefully fulfilled. Destroying Jesus brought on them the very rebellion they feared.
The consequences of unbelief are terrible. This was well illustrated by a Captain who was commissioned to search for a dangerous shoal that had been reported in the Mediterranean at a certain longitude and latitude.
The Captain was unsuccessful and declared the shoal was a dream. A junior officer who felt otherwise later discovered the shoal, and reported it to the Admiralty, which inserted the find on the charts.
The Captain refused to believe the finding and vowed he would sail over that exact spot next time he was near it. Two years later his ship approached the place. The obstinate Captain went down into the cabin and happily told his officers that within five minutes the discovery would be shown a hoax.
Suddenly a grating noise came from the ship=s keel. After a tremendous crash, the ship foundered. The crew was saved, but the Captain refused to leave the ship and sank with it. He perished, a victim of unbelief.
Unbelief undid the Captain, and proved to be the undoing of the religious leaders. It continues to undo all who are caught in its death grip.