Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus went to Judea where there were known hostilities against His ministry.
Jews who rejected Jesus were ready to stone Him to death.
But Jesus went there because of a friend.
Lazarus, together with his two sisters Martha and Mary were close friends of Jesus.
They were more than casual friends, but were considered to be deeper inner circle of contacts in our modern society.
Jesus was busy preaching the kingdom of God elsewhere, when He got the message that Lazarus was critically ill in Judea.
Jesus went into prayer and sought the will of the Father.
what happen next?
Judea would be the place to avoid at all cost due to known hostility.
Jesus could have continued with His disciples to other parts of Israel preaching the Gospel, going to places where they were easily accepted.
Why take the risk going to enemy ground with known certainty of death?
Friendship overcomes risk.
As the story goes, Jesus did not just overcome risk, He overcame the roots of hostility against Him.
With all the power and authority Jesus had, to work another miracle seems possible.
But to change the hearts of disbelieving Jews who were ready to kill Him would be a dangerous task.
Sometimes people cannot believe due to lack of truth.
Sometimes people choose to disbelieve due to willful rejection of the truth, and these were those who would turned violence against Jesus.
A person as an individual needs to make that personal choice to receive Jesus.
Likewise it is possible for an individual to reject Christ due to a willful and adamant state of mind.
The salvation plan of God is possible for those who believe.
The salvation plan of God is impossible for those who willfully reject.
Jesus took the risk going to Judea, firstly for a friend and also if possible to overcome the roots of hostility.
In fact the condition of Jesus’ friend Lazarus might be the key to victory when everyone else was losing hope.
When Jesus came to Judea with His disciples, Lazarus was already dead and laid to rest in the tomb four days.
The first thing Jesus did having arrived in Judea and before entering the house, He raised Lazarus from the dead!
Now how about that! It was as if Jesus wanted to make sure Lazarus will host Him again in his own house, alive!
People were crying “Lazarus is dead, it’s all over and gone.”
What Jesus did, it was as if Jesus was saying “I am here, and Lazarus will live because of me”
What a friend Lazarus had in Jesus.
That was not the first time Jesus had raised the dead during His public ministry, but the intention and declaration in the case of Lazarus were deliberated, bold and victorious.
Lazarus was to be raised from the dead, in broad-daylight, in plain sight and public display, among Jesus’ opponents.
For friendship, and for the glory of God
On another occasion Jesus raised the dead in public in a town called Nain (Luke 7:11-17).
The situation then was different.
Jesus and His disciples were passing by to somewhere and a family funeral procession crossed path with them.
Being informed the dead man was the only son of the widow; Jesus had compassion and brings hope back to the lost.
But in Judea what Jesus intent to do with Lazarus was to glorify the Father in a way which will overwhelm the enemies of the cross.
The responses of the Jews who witnessed Lazarus coming back from the dead provided some very important reasoning why Jesus chooses to raise Lazarus from the dead in Judea ‐
1 – Many of the Jews who witnessed Lazarus coming back from the dead believed in Jesus (John 11:45).
That kind of believe they experienced were not just believing, but it made them forsake their hostility against Jesus.
They lost their intention to stone Jesus to death.
Jesus confronted His opponents with proof, evident and honesty.
Jesus was making plain and clear in broad-daylight, He is the chosen Messiah approved by God Almighty.
Jesus knew their heart were hard as rock, yet He had compassion on them.
2 – The community and national leaders, including chief priests, Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, decided‘enough is enough’ (John 11:46-51).
They made a formal, deliberate and unanimous plot to kill Jesus, and some suggest including Lazarus too.
The obvious reasons were that they lost many followers, which means losing support, because of that one incident Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus.
If one could read between the lines, it was pretty obvious how these leaders have had their hold on the large numbers of common folks and their gifts, offerings and tithes, benefiting themselves.
Furthermore, as appointed “agents” by the Romans for social-political stability bargains, they had their privileges.
It’s was special status in society they will not want to lose.
Loosing members means loosing support, and means they will soon be fired by the Romans.
That one incident where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in broad daylight in the witness of the Jews became indisputable evident which break-through that mental, religious strong-hold these leaders had held over the populations.
These leaders knew from then on the people will have legitimate grounds to revolt and swing support to Jesus.
Why continue with the chief priests who habitually live off people’s resources when you can have a great leader like Jesus who raised the dead and bless the people?
3 – News was spreading far and wide; many more dis-believing Jews came and believed in Jesus. (John 12:9)
Perhaps also due to Lazarus’s connection to the Jewish community, his coming back from the dead is a fool-proof testimony.
Lazarus was a Jew himself.
Throughout the public ministry of Jesus, the Jews had many complaints about Gentiles receiving miracles and blessed by the Lord.
So now you have it, the Jews themselves had a taste of their own kin-folk enjoying the miracle of God.
It wasn’t a case of being healed from sickness or disease, but raised from the dead.
In fact Lazarus was dead four days already before he came back to life through Jesus.
Those four days in the tomb Lazarus should have been more than dead and decomposing, thus Martha warned Jesus that his brother’s body would really stink by then (John 11:39).
The tomb was re-opened and Jesus called forth Lazarus back from the dead.
Jesus did something important and victorious for His friend Lazarus which cannot be denied, words was spreading around like wild fire.
Lazarus is alive, Jesus did it
The Jews came, not only to believe in Jesus but also to make friend with Lazarus.
Let’s try to recall what Jesus said while He raised Lazarus from the dead –
So they took away the stone.
Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
For the sake of the people, Jesus took the risk with His friend Lazarus.
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