Jesus had a way of showing up amid crisis and making what seemed to be the end just the beginning. One such instance was the death of his friend Lazarus. Jesus had been told Lazarus was sick, so he waited. Waited? Jesus had been healing complete strangers, yet he didn’t run to heal His friend? Instead, Jesus waits until four days have passed. Four days is significant due to the traditional Jewish teaching that the soul would hover over and around the body for three days. In waiting four days, Jesus removes any doubt that Lazarus is entirely dead. It seemed to everyone that the end had come for Lazarus… everyone except Jesus.
Upon arriving on the scene, Jesus tells Martha, the sister of Lazarus, that her brother would live again. Martha, knowing her Old Testament, relays that she knows he will on the last day (John 11:24), but Jesus says something that is shocking and turns what seems to be an end into a beginning.
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.John 11:25
In saying this, Jesus is claiming an extraordinary authority. Jesus is claiming that he is more powerful than death itself. Jesus is claiming that He can defeat death for every single person who believes in Him.
This whole scene smacks of my 8th-grade self and those moments on a football field when someone would get full of themself and make an outlandish claim – “I can throw a football 50 yards!” Inevitably someone in the group would say something like, “Talk is cheap; give him the ball.” In other words, it is one thing to make some extraordinary claim, and it’s another thing to prove it. At this moment, all of Jesus’s identity hangs in the balance. It is a “prove it” kind of moment. After a brief conversation, Jesus moves to the front of the tomb where Lazarus has been buried.
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.”John 11:38-43
Pause: Let’s remember what is on the line here: If Lazarus doesn’t come back to life, then Jesus is a fake. However, if Lazarus does come out, they are standing in the presence of the man who can defeat death!
The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”John 11:44
Words cannot express the joy that must have erupted from the people who had witnessed this event. Death had been defeated and the promise of life is given to everyone… everyone who trusts that Jesus is who is said He is. What seemed to be an end for Lazarus was actually a new beginning. At Easter, we celebrate the hope of resurrection for all who trust Jesus as their sin-bearer. Jesus died and rose from the grave to prove that what seemed to be an end is really just a new beginning.
May you meditate on this and find your hope in Him this Easter! If we can help you know more about Jesus, please email us at [email protected].