The Raising of Lazarus

Title: The Raising of Lazarus

Bible Book: John 11 : 1-44

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Resurrection; Life; Miracles of Jesus; Jesus, Power of



A few weeks ago, I read this little story…

Two 90-year-old men, Moe and Joe, have been friends all of their lives. When it’s clear that Joe is dying, Moe visits him every day. One day Moe says, “Joe, we both loved baseball all our lives, and we played minor league ball together for so many years. Please do me one favor: when you get to Heaven, somehow you must let me know if there’s baseball there.”

Joe looks up at Moe from his deathbed, “Moe, you’ve been my best friend for many years. If it’s at all possible, I’ll do this favor for you.” Shortly after that, Joe passes on.

At midnight a couple of nights later, Moe is awakened from a sound sleep by a blinding flash of white light and a voice calling out to him, “Moe, Moe.”

“Who is it?” asks Moe, sitting up suddenly. “Who is it?”

“Moe—it’s me, Joe.”

“You’re not Joe. Joe just died.”

“I’m telling you, it’s me, Joe,” insists the voice.

“Joe! Where are you?”

“In Heaven,” replies Joe. “I have some really good news and a little bad news.”

“Tell me the good news first,” says Moe.

“The good news,” Joe says, “is that there IS baseball in Heaven. Better yet, all of our old buddies who died before us are here, too. Better than that, we’re all young again. Better still, it’s always springtime, and it never rains or snows. And best of all, we can play baseball all we want, and we never get tired.”

“That’s fantastic,” says Moe. “It’s beyond my wildest dreams! So what’s the bad news?”

“You’re pitching Tuesday.”

(From Mikey’s Funnies Daily Email – 03/29/2011)

I don’t think the family at Bethany had any such advance notification of Lazarus’ death. In fact, they certainly hoped and prayed that he would recover of his sickness.

Over the past several weeks, we have been looking at the miracles of Christ that are highlighted in John’s Gospel.

In the book, “The Apologetics of Jesus,” Norman Geisler and Patrick Zukeran note that…

Natural laws describe what occurs regularly by natural causes, but miracles are special acts of God that interrupt the normal course of events and confirm the Word of God through a messenger of God. Several words are used for miracle in the Gospels. … The Greek word most often used is semeion (usually translated “sign”). … The basic meaning of semeion is a sign by which one recognizes a particular person or thing and which serves as an authenticating mark or token.

And in the Gospel of John, there are seven specific signs set forth for the purpose of authenticating Jesus’ ministry and identity. Notice the statement that John makes towards the end of his book…

(John 20:30-31) And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: {31} But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

These seven signs (or miracles with a message) that are highlighted in the fourth gospel include…

The Changing Water Into Wine At Cana John 2:1-11

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Change Us

The Healing Of The Nobleman’s Son John 4:46-54

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Heal Us No Matter How Far Away We Are

The Healing Of The Man At The Pool Of Bethesda John 5:1-16

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Cause Us To Walk

The Feeding Of The 5,000 John 6:1-13

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Feed Us And Bring Us Into Fellowship

Jesus Walking On Water John 6:16-21 (Also in Matt. 14 & Mark 6)

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power Over Our Storms

The Healing Of The Man Born Blind John 9:1-7

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Has The Power To Give Us Vision

The Raising Of Lazarus John 11:1-44

The Spiritual Lesson Is That Jesus Even Has The Power Over Death

Today, we’re looking at The Miracle Of Jesus Raising Lazarus From The Dead in John chapter 11.

As Barrett Warren Johnson wrote…

The ministry of Christ was a manifestation of God in him; of the Father in the Son; of the Son by his own works and words. The miracles selected by John out of the great number wrought by the Redeemer, are chosen according to their bearing on this manifestation and reach their climax in the resurrection of Lazarus, the fitting prelude to the resurrection of the Lord himself from the dead. In this wonderful miracle he reveals himself as the Resurrection and the Life, the Conqueror of Death in his very dominions, while his own resurrection manifests him as having life in himself, the very fountain of life, and hence, divine. The other Gospels give no account of this part of the Savior's ministry.

(From “The New Testament Commentary: Volume III — John” – WordSearch)

J. C. Ryle said…

The chapter we have now begun is one of the most remarkable in the New Testament. For grandeur and simplicity, for pathos and solemnity, nothing was ever written like it. It describes a miracle which is not recorded in the other Gospels—the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Nowhere shall we find such convincing proofs of our Lord’s Divine power. As God, He makes the grave itself yield up its tenants. Nowhere shall we find such striking illustrations of our Lord’s ability to sympathize with His people. As man, He can be touched with the feelings of our infirmities. Such a miracle well became the end of such a ministry. It was fit and right that the victory of Bethany should closely precede the crucifixion at Calvary.

(Expository Thoughts on the Gospels – WordSearch)

As we look today at John chapter 11 and this seventh miracle of John’s gospel…

I. Let’s Consider The Tender Relationship In This Chapter

A. Notice The Comments That Seem To Certify His Compassion

1. His Love Was Evident

a. There Was Evidence Of An Observable Feeling Of Love

(John 11:3) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

lovest – Greek 5368. phileo, fil-eh'-o; from G5384; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing espec. the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); spec. to kiss (as a mark of tenderness):--kiss, love.

(John 11:36) Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

loved – Greek 5368. phileo, fil-eh'-o; from G5384; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), i.e. have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling).

They saw an expression of affection.

b. There Was Evidence Of An Ongoing Fact Of Love

(John 11:5) Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

loved – Greek 25. agapao, ag-ap-ah'-o; perh. from agan (much) [or comp. H5689]; to love (in a social or moral sense):--(be-) love (-ed). Comp. G5368.

A. T. Robertson said…

Now Jesus loved ‎eegapa ‎‎de‎. Imperfect active of ‎agapaoo ‎picturing the continued love of Jesus for this noble family where he had his home so often (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8).

2. His Love Was Expressed

(John 11:11) These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

friend – Greek 5384. philos, fee'-los; prop. dear, i.e. a friend; act. fond, i.e. friendly (still as a noun, an associate, neighbor, etc.):--friend.

‎Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that the word “friend” here suggests “he who associates familiarly with one, a companion.”

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

These things said he: and after that he saith, Our friend Lazarus - illustrious title from such Lips! To Abraham only did the Lord under the Old Testament accord this, and not until hundreds of years after his death (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8); to which, as something very unusual, our attention is called in the New Testament (James 2:23). When Jesus came in the flesh, His forerunner applied this name, in a certain official sense, to himself (John 3:29); and into the same fellowship the Lord’s chosen disciples are declared to have come (John 15:13-15). Lampe well remarks that the phrase here employed - “our friend Lazarus” - means more than “he whom Thou lovest” (John 11:3); because it implies that Christ’s affection was reciprocated by Lazarus.

By the way, the action mentioned in verse 2 (as well as the hospitality seen in Luke 10 and John 12) also indicates that they were expressive of their love for Him.

B. Notice The Circumstances That Seem To Contradict His Compassion

1. Did He Really Love Them? Why Was There Disease?

(John 11:1) Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

(John 11:3) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

sick – Greek 770. astheneo, as-then-eh'-o; from G772; to be feeble (in any sense):--be diseased, impotent folk (man), (be) sick, (be, be made) weak.

Warren Wiersbe said…

When the messenger arrived back home, he would find Lazarus already dead. What would his message convey to the grieving sisters now that their brother was already dead and buried? Jesus was urging them to believe His word no matter how discouraging the circumstances might appear.

No doubt the disciples were perplexed about several matters. First of all, if Jesus loved Lazarus so much, why did He permit him to get sick? Even more, why did He delay to go to the sisters? For that matter, could He not have healed Lazarus at a distance, as He did the nobleman’s son? (John 4:43-54)

(Jesus was probably at Bethabara, about the same distance from Bethany as Cana was from Capernaum.)

The record makes it clear that there was a strong love relationship between Jesus and this family (John 11:3, 5, 36); yet our Lord’s behavior seems to contradict this love.

… The fact that He loves us, and we love Him is no guarantee that we will be sheltered from the problems and pains of life. … Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ sickness or even healed it from where He was; but He chose not to. He saw in this sickness an opportunity to glorify the Father. It is not important that we Christians are comfortable, but it is important that we glorify God in all that we do.

The Life Application Bible Commentary says…

Lazarus had been close to Jesus, yet he became deathly ill. The disciples may have asked a question similar to the one asked about the blind man in chapter 9, “Who sinned?” Or perhaps, “What did Lazarus do wrong?” But the Bible helps us see that sickness and death do not indicate that God has rejected someone or that they have done something wrong.

We must remind ourselves that neither we nor our loved ones are exempt. These three disciples of Jesus were his close friends and associates. Jesus loved them. Yet he did not rush to spare them grief. The presence of pain and suffering in the lives of faithful disciples of Jesus can teach us that Christians do not have different experiences in life; rather, they experience life differently. Our hope in Jesus does not insulate us from life’s difficulties, but it does provide a way through and beyond them

2. Did He Really Love Them? Why Was There Delay?

(John 11:6) When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

abode – Greek 3306. meno, men'-o; a prim. verb; to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):--abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for), X thine own.

MacArthur said…

The Lord’s close relationship with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha makes what happened next seem all the more puzzling. Instead of rushing back to Bethany in response to the sisters’ message, when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. The Lord did not delay to allow Lazarus to die since, as noted above, he had probably died before the messenger reached Jesus. The delay did serve several purposes: it strengthened the sisters’ faith in the Lord by forcing them to trust Him; it made it clear that Lazarus was truly dead and hence that Jesus’ raising of him was indeed a miracle; and, as always, Jesus operated according to God’s timetable, not man’s.

Let’s go back for a moment to the distinction in meaning of phileo and agape. Marvin Vincent said…

Loveth ‎filei‎. “To love” is expressed by two words in the New Testament, ‎fileoo ‎and ‎agapaoo‎. ‎Agapaoo ‎indicates a reasoning, discriminating attachment, founded in the conviction that its object is worthy of esteem, or entitled to it on account of benefits bestowed. ‎Fileoo ‎represents a warmer, more instinctive sentiment, more closely allied to feeling, and implying more passion. Hence, ‎agapaoo ‎is represented by the Latin diligo, the fundamental idea of which is “selection,” the deliberate choice of one out of a number, on sufficient grounds, as an object of regard. Thus, ‎fileoo ‎emphasizes the affectional element of love, and ‎agapaoo ‎the intelligent element.

We may not always feel the affection of His love; but we always have the actuality of His love! The fact goes beyond the feeling.

II. Let’s Consider The Truths Revealed In This Chapter

A. Jesus Revealed The Truth Of His Purpose

1. It Was His Purpose That They Should Believe God (Consider again John 20:30-31)

(John 11:15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

Albert Barnes said…

[I am glad ...] The meaning of this verse may be thus expressed: “If I had been there during his sickness, the entreaties of his sisters and friends would have prevailed with me to restore him to health. I could not have refused them without appearing to be unkind. Though a restoration to health would have been a miracle, and sufficient to convince you, yet the miracle of raising him after being four days dead will be far more impressive, and on that account I rejoice that an opportunity is thus given so strikingly to confirm your faith.”

[To the intent] To furnish you evidence on which you might be established in the belief that I am the Messiah.

(John 11:41-42) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. {42} And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

The Bible Knowledge Commentary says…

With the stone taken away, the tension mounted. What would Jesus do? He simply thanked His Father for granting His request. He knew He was doing the Father’s will in manifesting His love and power. His prayer of thanksgiving was public, not so that He would be honored as a Wonder-Worker but so He would be seen as the Father’s obedient Son. The granting of His request by the Father would give clear evidence to the people that He had been sent by the Father and would cause the people to believe (cf. Elijah’s prayer; 1 Kings 18:37).

Cf. (1 Kings 18:37) Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

2. It Was His Purpose That They Should Behold Glory

(John 11:4) When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

glorified – Greek 1392. doxazo, dox-ad'-zo; from G1391; to render (or esteem) glorious (in a wide application):--(make) glorify (-ious), full of (have) glory, honour, magnify.

(John 11:40) Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

glory – Greek 1391. doxa, dox'-ah; from the base of G1380; glory (as very apparent), in a wide application (lit. or fig., obj. or subj.):--dignity, glory (-ious), honour, praise, worship.

John MacArthur said…

Chapter 11 records the last and most powerful of the seven miraculous signs in the gospel of John, the resurrection of Lazarus four days after he died. The miracle’s primary purpose, however, was not to restore him to life, or to comfort his grieving sisters. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, first and foremost, so that He and the Father would be glorified (vv. 4, 40). The glory of Jesus Christ blazes in this passage against a dark backdrop of rejection and hatred on the part of the Jewish leaders.

B. Jesus Revealed The Truth Of His Power

1. He Had The Power Of Resolution

(John 11:9-10) Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. {10} But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

John MacArthur said…

The Lord replied with a proverbial saying meant to allay the disciples’ fears: “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.” The Jews divided the daylight period into twelve hours, which unlike modern hours varied in length at different seasons of the year. The twelve hours in the day symbolize the duration of the Lord’s earthly ministry as allotted by the Father. Just as no one can lengthen or shorten a day, so the disciples’ concern could not extend the time allotted to Jesus, nor could the Jews’ hostility shorten it. The one who walks in the day need not fear that he might stumble; thus Jesus was perfectly safe for the prescribed time of His life (7:30; 8:20). The night, signifying the end of His earthly ministry (cf. 12:35), would come at the precise time set by God’s eternal plan, and only then would the Lord stumble in death.

2. He Had The Power Of Resurrection

(John 11:23-26) Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. {24} Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. {25} Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: {26} And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Matthew Henry said that Jesus declared Himself to be…

The fountain of life, and the head and author of the resurrection.

The Pulpit Commentary said…

Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection. Not merely that God will give me what I ask, but that I am in some sense already his gift to man of resurrection, inasmuch as I am that of Life.

As one preacher friend of mine observed…

Jesus is the Resurrection; that’s enough to get Lazarus up. Jesus is the Life; that’s enough to keep Lazarus up. (Tom Hayes)

III. Let’s Consider The Triumphant Resurrection In This Chapter

A. Listen To The Groaning – The Precursor Of The Resurrection

1. There Seems To Be A Sympathy In Jesus’ Groaning

(John 11:32-35) Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. {33} When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, {34} And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. {35} Jesus wept.

Jesus knows how to “weep with them that weep” (Romans 12:15).

Cf. (Hebrews 4:15) For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Albert Barnes said…

[He groaned in the spirit] The word rendered “groaned,” here, commonly denotes to be angry or indignant, or to reprove severely, denoting violent agitation of mind. Here it also evidently denotes violent agitation – not from anger, but from grief. He saw the sorrow of others, and he was also moved with sympathy and love. The word “groan” usually, with us, denotes an expression of internal sorrow by a special sound. The word here, however, does not mean that utterance was given to the internal emotion, but that it was deep and agitating, though internal.

[In the spirit] In the mind.

[Was troubled] Was affected with grief. Perhaps this expression denotes that his countenance was troubled, or gave indications of sorrow (Grotins).

2. There Seems To Be A Sorrow In Jesus’ Groaning

(John 11:38) Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

groaning – (same word in verse 33 and 38) Greek 1690. embrimaomai, em-brim-ah'-om-ahee; from G1722 and brimaomai (to snort with anger); to have indignation on, i.e. (trans.) to blame, (intrans.) to sigh with chagrin, (spec.) to sternly enjoin:--straitly charge, groan, murmur against.

The Pulpit Commentary says…

The (expression) “in himself” is not so forcible an expression as “shuddering in his spirit (ver. 33), but it implies a continuity of grand, holy indignation against the anomaly of death, from which the human family and he as its Representative were suffering.

John Phillips wrote…

We have a comment (11:38) by John. He tells us of the feelings of the Savior (11:38a): “Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave.” Probably the unbelief of the Jews added to the Lord’s distress at this time. There is a strong possibility that the words of the Jews about his not healing Lazarus were said with a sneer. They were questioning his power.

B. Look At The Grave – The Place Of The Resurrection

1. Notice The Great Voice Here

(John 11:43) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

loud – Greek 3173. megas, meg'-as [includ. the prol. forms, fem. megale, plur. megaloi, etc.; comp. also G3176, G3187]; big (lit. or fig., in a very wide application):--(+ fear) exceedingly, great (-est), high, large, loud, mighty, + (be) sore (afraid), strong, X to years.

voice – Greek 5456. phone, fo-nay'; prob. akin to G5316 through the idea of disclosure; a tone (articulate, bestial or artificial); by impl. an address (for any purpose), saying or language:--noise, sound, voice.

Marvin Vincent explained…

Come forth ‎deuro ‎‎exoo‎. Literally, “hither forth.”

A. T. Robertson suggested…

‎The loud voice was not for the benefit of Lazarus, but for the sake of the crowd standing around that they might see that Lazarus came forth simultaneously with the command of Jesus.

J. C. Ryle said…

He whose voice could bring back from the grave one that had been four days dead, must indeed have been very God!

Perhaps as Lazarus was there in Abraham’s bosom in the heart of the earth, one of the other departed saints came to him and said, “The Master is come and calleth for thee.” And Lazarus excused himself and went back to the world of the living because the great voice had summoned him.

The great Baptist theologian of the 1700’s, John Gill said…

He calls him by his name, not only as being his friend, and known by him, but to distinguish him from any other corpse that might lie interred in the same cave; and he bids him come forth out of the cave

Others have speculated that if Jesus had not specified Lazarus, that every corpse in every grave in the whole world would have risen in obedience to the command “Come forth.”

2. Notice The Glorious Victory Here

(John 11:44) And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

He overcame death!

came forth (vs. 44) – Greek 1831. exerchomai, ex-er'-khom-ahee; from G1537 (from out of) and G2064 (to come or go); to issue (lit. or fig.):--come-(forth, out), depart (out of), escape, get out, go (abroad, away, forth, out, thence), proceed (forth), spread abroad.

(John 11:39-40) Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. {40} Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

As there is no further mention of the stench, He apparently overcame decomposition through His glory.


You’ve heard of the widely used motto for donating blood: “Giving the Gift of Life.” I read about a situation that vividly describes that concept…

Dr. Samuel Weinstein, chief of pediatric cardio-thoracic surgery for Children’s Hospital at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, went to El Salvador in 2006 with Heart Care International to provide life-saving operations for poor children.

It would take more than expertise and advanced equipment to save the life of Francisco Calderon Anthony Fernandez, eight, however. After twelve hours of surgery, the boy began to bleed out of control. The hospital lacked both the medicines to stop the bleeding and the blood to give the boy transfusions. Francisco’s blood type was B-negative, which—according to the American Red Cross—is present in only 2 percent of the population.

Dr. Weinstein had the same blood type. So he set aside his scalpel, took off his gloves, and began washing his hands and forearm. Then he sat down and had his blood drawn.

When he had given his pint, Dr. Weinstein drank some bottled water and ate a Pop-Tart. Then—twenty minutes after stepping away from the table—he rejoined his colleagues, who watched as Weinstein’s blood began flowing into the boy’s small veins. Weinstein then completed the operation that saved Francisco’s life.

—Jim Fitzgerald, “Doc Stops Surgery to Give Own Blood to Patient,” (May 26, 2006)

(From 1001 Illustrations That Connect #252 – Craig Brian Larson, Editor – LOGOS)

Jesus gave Lazarus the gift of life. And it was life that flowed from Jesus Himself.

He can do that for you spiritually today. Is He calling you to “come forth” from that condition of deadness? Is He calling you to life this morning?

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