John 11: 38 – 44
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
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41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
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This passage starts out with the words that Jesus was “once more deeply moved.” There is no doubt that this would have been a time that Jesus would have been moved to feel the great loss at the death of His friend Lazurus. But perhaps there is something else here tucked away within our passage that caused Jesus to be “deeply moved” with emotion.
The verse just before our current passage states, “But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’” Is it possible that this statement was heard by Jesus, and caused Him to be deeply moved within His spirit? Consider the situation from a divine perspective.
When God created Man, He declared, “Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness…” (Genesis 1:26) God created mankind to share in the qualities of personality, conscience, morality, and to have an eternal soul or spirit. God saw that it was “very good” (Genesis 1:31), and He enjoyed being in the company of mankind as is implied in Genesis 3:8.
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When Adam and Eve sinned against God by choosing to disobey the will of God, the consequences of that action resulted in death coming upon them, and every succeeding generation. The death that is in focus there was primarily spiritual death, the idea of being separated from God eternally because of the corrupting power of sin which a pure and holy God cannot allow in His presence.
There was another death though that came about as a result of sin. This is “the first death”, the time when a person dies physically at the end of one’s life here on earth. And if that person is not in a right relationship with God, the first death (of the body), will lead to “the second death”, which would come at the Day of Judgment when the unrighteous are excluded from entrance into Heaven and depart into the fires of Hell.
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Perhaps Jesus had all of this in mind when He was “deeply moved”, when he heard the people wondering if He might have been able to save Lazurus from death. The grave has has such a powerful hold on people since the beginning of time, and Satan has had such a powerful hold over the souls of people. Jesus had come to break the power of both the grave and of Satan. But it wasn’t quite time yet. Jesus had not yet died upon the Cross to break these powers over mankind.
And so Jesus went to the tomb to raise Lazurus from the dead. It was an act of compassion for sure as He saw the grief of Mary and Martha. But it was also an opportunity for Jesus to display the awesome power of God who holds the power over life and death. Martha was limited in her belief when she reminded Jesus that her brother’s body would be rotting in the grave by this time.
Jesus though, reminded Martha that just as He would have the power to spiritually raise people to life with God on that final day when He was revealed to be the One appointed by God to save people (see verses 25-27 above), He was also able to call upon the glory of God to strip away the power of physical death in the present.
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Now the term “glory” can be translated along the lines of “brightness” or “wonderful” or “awesome power”. This last meaning is the one that fits here. And what is most interesting is how Jesus prays and is thankful that God had already heard His prayer to have the Father reveal His power through Jesus to raise Lazurus.
But Jesus spoke this out loud so that no one could miss the important truth that Jesus had been sent to earth to represent the Father and to display His “awesome power” among people. And what greater power could He display, than to strip away the power of death. Once this great miracle occurred, and Lazurus came out of the grave, then the people were told to strip away the linen burial clothes that were no longer needed.
As I close here, let me ask this: have you placed your trust in Jesus to forgive you of your sin? If you have, then you will not need to fear the “first death”, for you will be raised to eternal life with God at the end of all Time. But if you have not placed your trust in Jesus, then death (both physical and spiritual) is awaiting you. Why not let Jesus strip away the power of death that still clings to you, just like the funeral clothes that clung to Lazurus.
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