When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 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 11:43–44)
Jesus of Nazareth was a man of great authority. He turned water into aged wine, walked on the sea, calmed the storm, and healed the sick of every kind. But perhaps the greatest picture of his power comes in John 11 when he raises his friend Lazarus from the dead. It is not only a picture of his power, but of the love with which he loves us.
Lord, He Whom You Love Is Ill
Mary and Martha — two of the women closest to Jesus during his time here on earth — came to him distraught over their brother Lazarus because he was very ill and nearing death. It was a grave situation, and this was a man Jesus knew and loved (John 11:3, 5).
Jesus responded, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4). And then he decided to remain where he was for two more days, unexplainably delaying his visit to Judea where Lazarus was dying. He assured them everything would be okay, and then he did nothing.
When Jesus finally arrived, Lazarus had already been dead and decaying in the tomb for four days (John 11:17). He was dead, cold, lifeless. Mary and Martha both challenged their Lord, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). How could you let this happen? You’re the only one who could have saved him? Why didn’t you do something? They were confused and hurt and probably even angry.
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
Jesus responded to Martha, “‘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 11:25–26). Martha, death is as nothing for me. It has no power over me, and I will conquer and destroy it for anyone who puts their faith in me. “I am the resurrection and the life.” Then he went to the tomb, had them roll away the stone, and he spoke to the dead man, “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43).
If they listened closely, they might have heard the gasp as their brother’s lungs filled with air, or the rustle of cloth on the stone where he laid, or even the sound of his first steps on the cold ground. By the power of Jesus, Lazarus walked away from death, four long days of death. Jesus had tangibly, visibly, physically overpowered death and granted life. He had caused a heart — Lazarus’s heart — to beat again.
So That You Would Believe
Jesus said to his disciples, “Lazarus has died,and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe” (John 11:14–15). He let Lazarus die, so that his disciples might really believe the good news he preached to them.
He let Lazarus die, so that when you were dead in your sin, you might awaken to life in him. And he raised Lazarus, so that lifeless, hopeless you might believe in him and run to him. He is the God — the merciful, sovereign God — who makes our dead hearts beat again. He makes us alive.