Sermon: Lazarus was a miracle and the motive

My first attempt at a podcast. I think the audio is pretty low, so you might have to turn up your volume.

Listen to the sermon by clicking here: Lazarus was a miracle and the motive

Click here for the original blog post from this sermon.

Scripture: John 11:17-52

 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  Bethany was a little less than two miles from Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary after their brother’s death. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “ Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give you. ”

Jesus told her, “ Your brother will rise again. ”

Martha replied, “ I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day. ”

Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this? ”

She replied, “ Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, the one who is coming into the world. ”

After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “ The teacher is here and he’s calling for you. ” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. He hadn’t entered the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him.  When the Jews who were comforting Mary in the house saw her get up quickly and leave, they followed her. They assumed she was going to mourn at the tomb.

When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “ Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. ” When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “ Where have you laid him? ”

They replied, “ Lord, come and see. ”

Jesus began to cry. The Jews said, “ See how much he loved him! ”  But some of them said, “ He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying? ” Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, “ Remove the stone. ”

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “ Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days. ”

Jesus replied, “ Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory? ” So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “ Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me. ” Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “ Lazarus, come out! ” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “ Untie him and let him go. ”

Therefore, many of the Jews who came with Mary and saw what Jesus did believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.  Then the chief priests and Pharisees called together the council and said, “ What are we going to do? This man is doing many miraculous signs! If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him. Then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our people. ”

One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, told them, “ You don’t know anything! You don’t see that it is better for you that one man die for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed. ” He didn’t say this on his own. As high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would soon die for the nation— and not only for the nation. Jesus would also die so that God’s children scattered everywhere would be gathered together as one. From that day on they plotted to kill him.

The Raising of Lazarus, 1962 by John Reilly. From the Methodist Church Collection of Modern Art

1 Comment

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One response to “Sermon: Lazarus was a miracle and the motive

  1. nonsupernaturalist

    According to the Bible, how many Old Testament prophets raised people from the dead? Answer: Two. Elijah and Elisha.

    That’s it. And they only did it three times. So the act of raising someone from the dead would have been seen as a very, very big deal. It was not like healing someone of a disease or casting out demons. Lots of people, it seems, could do those miracles. Nope, raising someone from the dead was the big kahuna of all miracles!

    In the Gospel of John chapter 11, we are told that Lazarus had been dead for four days. His body was decomposing to the point that he stunk. Lazarus death and burial were very public events. His tomb was a known location. Many Jews had come to mourn with Mary and Martha and some of them were wondering why the great miracle worker, Jesus, had not come and healed his friend Lazarus; essentially blaming Jesus for letting Lazarus die.

    Let’s step back and look at the facts asserted in this passage: Only two OT prophets had raised people from the dead, and these two prophets were considered probably the two greatest Jewish prophets of all time: Elijah and Elisha. If this story is true, the supernatural powers of Jesus were on par with the supernatural powers of the greatest Jewish prophets of all time! If this event really did occur, it should have shocked the Jewish people to their very core—a new Elijah was among them! This event must have been the most shocking event to have occurred in the lives of every living Jewish man and woman on the planet. The news of this event would have spread to every Jewish community across the globe.

    And yet…Paul, a devout and highly educated Jew, says not one word about it. Not one. Not in his epistles; not in the Book of Acts. Think about that. What would be the most powerful sign to the Jews living in Asia Minor and Greece—the very people to whom Paul was preaching and attempting to convert—to support the claim that Jesus of Nazareth himself had been raised from the dead? Answer: The very public, very well documented raising from the dead of Lazarus of Bethany by Jesus!

    But nope. No mention of this great miracle by Paul. (A review of Paul’s epistles indicates that Paul seems to have known very little if anything about the historical Jesus. Read here.)

    And there is one more very, very odd thing about the Raising-of-Lazarus-from-the-Dead Miracle: the author of the Gospel of John, the very last gospel to be written, is the only gospel author to mention this amazing miracle! The authors of Mark, Matthew, and Luke say NOTHING about the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Nothing.

    This is a tall tale and nothing more!

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