Raising of Lazarus (John 11)

I am in the midst of reading the Gospel of John. Just reached chapter 11 and it speaks of the raising of Lazarus from his death by our Lord Jesus Christ. It is relevant to us as we struggle with the finality of the grave.

Lazarus is a friend who has died. He is a brother whose illness should never have been terminal. His grave is a reminder of every grave we visited and a parable of the grave we must all visit – our own.

According to Jesus, even a resurrection miracle will not be sufficient to persuade some people of the power and the reality of God. This is clearly apparent in John 11. There were many standing among the mourners of that day who were friends with Lazarus, who knew he was dead, and who participated in his burial but when he stepped from the grave, they REFUSED to BELIEVE in Jesus. Signs alone cannot provoke faith. Miracles do not of themselves transform lives. Even when Jesus rose from the grave, some refused to believe.

Many people desire miracles from God. They want God to perform miracles to “prove” Himself to them. “If only God would perform a miracle, sign, or wonder, then I would believe!” When God performed amazing and powerful miracles for the Israelites, did that cause them to obey Him? No, but the Israelites constantly disobeyed and rebelled against God even though they saw all the miracles.

It is foolish to think that if God supplies us with a compelling miracle, our spiritual people will be energized. My personal conviction is that a sign must be linked to explanation; spiritual experience must be with spiritual teaching or preaching.

Jesus performed countless miracles, yet the vast majority of people did not believe in Him. If God performed miracles today as He did in the past, the result would be the same. People would be amazed and would believe in God for just a short time.

The raising of Lazarus provides us with the knowledge and points to us and reminds us that Jesus’ work is greater even than the healing event.

John 11:41. 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 for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may BELIEVE that you sent me.”

The purpose of miracles was to authenticate the performer of the miracles. Jesus and His apostles, as recorded in Scripture, are the cornerstone and foundation of our faith (Ephesians 2:20). Miracles are no longer necessary, as the message of Jesus and His apostles has already been attested to and accurately recorded in the Scriptures.

Andrew Lim