The Death of Lazarus
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 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.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 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. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 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. 32 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.” 33 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. 34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 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.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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.” 43 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.”
Jesus launched His public ministry by announcing His mission and purpose. He was attending a Sabbath service at the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, and as He stood up to read an attendant gave Him a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Opening the scroll, Jesus read these words:
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18–19)
The words were familiar to the audience. They had been read in services of worship for more than seven hundred years. But God’s people were still waiting for the hope that they promised.
A Dramatic Announcement
When Jesus had finished reading, He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant, and sat down, as rabbis always did when they taught. The people were well used to the routine of the reading and the sermon, but nobody was prepared for the drama of Jesus’ announcement: “Today,” He said, “this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).
Others had explained what the Messiah would do. Jesus announced that the Messiah had come.
The Mission of Jesus
Jesus announced Himself as the promised deliverer. Through His unique ministry, prisoners would be released, the eyes of the blind would be opened, and people who were oppressed would find freedom.
When Jesus said that He had come to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, He was referring to a year of celebration that God had instituted in the Old Testament called the Jubilee (Leviticus 25).
God’s plan was that every fifty years unpaid debts would be forgiven, slaves would be released, and land that had been sold in times of hardship would be returned to the original owners. The Jubilee offered a new beginning for all of God’s people, as old debts were forgiven and lost inheritances were restored.
The Jubilee laws were a wonderful blessing for the poor, but a costly obligation for the rich. That is why the Jubilee never happened in the entire history of the Old Testament. Those who had the power to call the Jubilee never had the will to do so. It was just too costly.
Jesus came to announce God’s Jubilee, and that is good news for the poor. Christ is willing to forgive our old debts to God and to restore our lost inheritance. He is able to release those who are imprisoned by sin and oppressed by Satan. The blessing that God had promised for all people through someone in the line of Abraham and David has come in Jesus Christ.
Healing the Sick
Over the next three years Jesus gave stunning evidence of His ability to deliver on these remarkable promises. A blind man received his sight (John 9), a deaf man received the gift of hearing (Mark 7), and a man who had been crippled for thirty-eight years walked (John 5). In all these miracles, Jesus was moved by compassion. He reached into the suffering of broken lives, bringing healing and hope.
Jesus even healed people suffering from leprosy. Lepers were the outcasts of society. Most people feared infection from this deadly disease and would not go near them. But when a leper came to Jesus asking to be healed, Jesus touched him and healed him (Matthew 8).
The miracles of Jesus demonstrated His authority over all the areas of darkness that bring misery to human lives. On one occasion, the disciples of Jesus were caught in a storm that blew up while they were rowing across the lake. Jesus rebuked the wind, and the lake became completely calm. The disciples were astonished. “Who is this?” they asked. “Even the wind and the waves obey him!” (Mark 4:41).
Delivering the Oppressed
Jesus also delivered people from demonic oppression. When He came to the area of the Gerasenes, a deranged man came rushing toward Him. Demons had made themselves at home in this man, bringing terrible destruction to him and everyone around him. He lived in graveyards, where he would cut his own body. Nobody could control him, and he was a violent threat to the nearby community.
When Jesus saw the man, He commanded the evil spirits to come out of him. And at the command of Jesus, the demons departed. When the local people came to see what had happened, they found the man sitting dressed and in his right mind (Mark 5).
Raising the Dead
The authority of Jesus extended beyond sickness, nature, and the demonic. He even controlled the realm of death. On three occasions He brought the dead back to life. The apostle John records the story of how Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, died. Four days after he was laid in a tomb, Jesus raised him from the dead. Jesus stood by the tomb and called Lazarus to come out. And he came out—walking in the bandages they had wrapped round his body (John 11).
A View from the Second Mountain
Jesus’ miracles were more than dramatic interventions. They were signs revealing His authority and confirming His identity. When John the Baptist questioned whether Jesus was really the Messiah, Jesus said, “The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor” (Matthew 11:5).
The miracles of Jesus were like flashes of lightning in a dark sky. Jesus has authority over disease, disasters, demons, and death. He cares about the poor, and He has come to bring God’s promised blessing in which our old debts will be canceled and our lost inheritance restored.
The miracles give a sample of the blessing that God has in store for all His people. But it is only a sample. Jesus did not eradicate blindness or leprosy. The local hospital did not close in Jerusalem. Undertakers did not go out of business. To discover why, we must travel through the next valley.
- How would you describe the authority of Jesus? Try to come up with at least four or five words. Label each word as a “positive” or a “negative” word, and then identify a particular event or events from Jesus’ life that you would associate with it.