The Raising Of Lazarus From The Dead
Stories of Jesus raising the dead appear in all the Gospels, but John alone includes the story of the raising of Lazarus. Bethany was located near the Jordan River, just north of the Dead Sea—about 15 miles (24 km.) due east of Bethany where Lazarus died. In ordinary terrain, 15 miles would be an easy one-day journey on foot. However, the Dead Sea is 1300 feet (400 meters) below sea level and Jerusalem is 2500 feet (760 meters) above sea level, so a traveler from the Dead Sea to Jerusalem would climb 3800 feet (1160 meters) in 15 miles—a 5 percent slope—which would make it an especially arduous one-day journey. However, when we love someone, we go the extra mile, and Jesus was very close to Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. With the raising of Lazarus, effectively Jesus seals his fate. It no longer is the authorities looking for ways to undermine Jesus, now they are looking for ways to kill Him. What struck me, is that Jesus must have known that the authorities would want to kill Him, but still He went to Lazarus anyway. This reminds me of John 15:13 which says “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends”.
Why did Jesus wait two days to go to Lazarus? We get the answer from the scripture itself. “for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it” The raising of Lazarus after 4 days further shows Jesus as the resurrection, and the light. Lazarus wasn’t just ill, he wasn’t in a coma, Lazarus had died! The effects of the act of raising Lazarus we will see later on in the passage as it reads “Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed in him.”
It is interesting to see Lazarus coming out of the tomb with tied hands and feet, and a cloth covering his face. There is real symbolism here I believe as this is the time of preparation during lent when we can look at our own relationship with God and try to figure what binds us to sin, or what binds us from the fullest relationship with Jesus that we can possibly have. The Lord reminds us today, “…if you believe, you will see the glory of God.”
God Bless you all,
Deacon Dan MacDonald