Studies in the Gospel of John- The Seventh Sign
I. Lazarus Being Raised from the Dead
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “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.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 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. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 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.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 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.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. (John 11:1-46)
A. As we look at the signs recorded in the Gospel of John we will attempt to describe them, as Arthur Pink says, in three ways. 1. The Typical Significance 2. The Prophetic Application 3. The Practical Teaching.
B. When reading the Gospel of John always ask questions of the Holy Spirit, who is the author of the book through Apostle John. As this book records, He, the Holy Spirit, will lead us and guide us into all Truth.
II. The Practical Teaching
A. Jesus receives word that Lazarus is sick. He remains where he is for two more days until He says to His disciples let’s go down and awaken Lazarus for he has fallen asleep. His disciples do not understand that Jesus is talking about Lazarus being dead. He then once again tells them that He is glad that they are going to see this miracle so they would believe. Thomas, the Twin, says let us go with Him that we may also die talking about the Jews that wanted to kill Jesus which was the condition Lazarus was already in.
B. Martha hears that the Lord was near their house so she runs out to meet Him. Mary stayed at home. Martha says to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus then tells her that Lazarus will rise again. Even then she projects Jesus’ promise to the out-of-the-reach future. Her eschatology was right, but she was missing the fact that the Resurrection and Life upon which her right beliefs were based was standing in front of her. Many times in our lives when faced with an impossible problem we run to the Lord looking for answers, but not exercising faith for His solutions.
C. After Martha’s profession of faith, she leaves the Lord and tells Mary that the Lord is asking for her. Mary runs out of the house and falls to His feet and declares to Jesus the same thing that Martha did. She was weeping, the mourners were weeping, and Jesus was deeply moved by their grief and/or their unbelief and He began to weep. Many were astonished at His love and compassion, others were simply doubting in Him since he had healed so many others couldn’t He keep this man from dying.
D. He asks where they have laid him. He commands the stone to be rolled away from the tomb. Martha objects based on the fact that Lazarus had been four days dead. He then prays so those around can hear and hopefully believe. Then He cried out with a loud voice “Lazarus Come Out!” Lazarus came forth bound up with his grave clothes. Jesus declares to those around him “Unbind him and Let him Go!” When Jesus delivers a person from the tomb of their bondage and brings life to them, it is our responsibility to help them be unbound. Removing the grave clothes and releasing them to the purpose of God for their lives is our privilege in partnering with the living Christ.
E. As a result many believed, but others reported what happened to the Pharisees. When God moves some believe, but for others it emboldens them in their religious, yet lifeless objections to either the New Wine or the New Wineskin.
III. The Typical Significance
A. We are talking about the types and symbols of the event.
B. Bethany means “House of Dates” and it was located according to the Greek text dekapente stadion or 10 and 5 stadia. 10 in the scripture means completeness of order and as a result it becomes that which tests. This can be seen in The Ten Commandments, Noah was the tenth generation after creation, the ten clauses of the Lord’s prayer, the Tithe, 10 plagues on Egypt, etc… We know five represents God’s Grace. This can be seen in the 5-fold grace giftings of Jesus to the church, David and the shewbread and smooth stones, in the tabernacle nearly every measurement was a multiple of 5, The 5th book of the Bible is Deuteronomy which highlights God’s Grace in light of His law, etc…God reveals that Bethany is the place where God’s Grace is revealed in the completeness of time and it will test the hearts of those who see it. It leads us to the City of Peace!(Jerusalem)
C. Thayer Definition: Lazarus = “whom God helps” (a form of the Hebrew name Eleazar)
Eleazar was the son of Aaron and was known for his priestly service to God and the people. He was the father of Phineas who pleased the Lord with his zeal for God’s presence. Jesus went to raise up Lazarus from the dead.
D. Four Days- The number of creation and the earth. Lazarus was not mostly dead, but Dead-Dead! He could do nothing to revive himself; his decay had already begun. However, Jesus has the power and authority to bring decaying things to life! He is the Resurrection and the Life!
E. We are to remove the stumbling block that would keep Lazarus from coming forth! The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: “I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.” Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (Isaiah 62:8-12)
F. Lazarus Come out! We are called out of the tomb of our own sin and helped by God to become the priests of the Lord.
IV. The Prophetic Application
A. With each sign we see the progression of the Gospel message within the time of the church age. We can track the events and significant markers that will take place during the time of Jesus’ heavenly intercessory ministry until the day He returns.
B. I believe this sign prophetically represents what God has done with the nation of Israel. They had been dispersed throughout the world at the end of the first century. As the Gospel went forth and began to effect culture and kingdoms the Jews were spread throughout Europe and Asia. Through the centuries they were still identifiable and persecuted, but as a nation they were dead. Their ability to affect the world as a priestly kingdom for their God had been removed and given to the redeemed (believing Jew and Gentile) as Priests unto God. However Romans 9-11 remind us that God still has promises related to the descendants of Abraham.
C. In 1948, after great death, Israel came forth as a nation again! Though they were four days dead they were restored to the Land that God had promised to Abraham. It is a prophetic sign that the fulness God’s purposes is nearing bringing us to the Last Sign and Culmination of the Ages! John 20.