The following is a Bible Study I wrote and will be sharing on April 26th. It is a first in a series I have made on Miracles. This week’s topic is Lazarus!
Symbols in Miracles
How the Miracles Jesus performed relate to Christian Living
Week One: “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
April 26, 2011
Lazarus’s Resurrection: The story of Lazarus’s resurrection is found in John Chapter 11. It is revealed that Lazarus is the sister of the Mary who used perfume to cleanse Jesus’s feet. Jesus had a great love for Mary and Martha as well as Lazarus. (11:5).
-When they come to Jesus to tell him that death is imminent for Lazarus, Jesus says: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” (11:4)
– Hearing Jesus say this must have bewildered His disciples. Lazarus was sure to die and they did not know what Jesus was talking about. Let alone Jesus waited two days before He even headed back to Judea in Lazarus’s direction.
– Why did Jesus wait two days?
The story continues that Jesus informs His disciples of Lazarus’s death. “After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” (11:11). 11:12 says that the disciples thought Jesus was speaking of a natural sleep.
– During the time of Jesus and before, the resurrection of the dead was not a new concept. There were many reports that people had been seen alive following their deaths. The fact is, those were just stories and nobody really believed them. To the human mind, the complexity of a Resurrection or eternal life is too much to fathom. Such things are still seen as impossibilities by modern science and various literatures.
– As you follow Jesus, do you feel better in tune with God when He speaks to you or when you see His glory presented?
-In 11:14-15 Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus is dead and that his death was necessary for them to believe what was about to occur. It was one thing for Jesus to speak it, but He wanted to show God’s glory so that there would be no doubt that God can make a dead life new.
– In 11:16, Thomas says “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”. Remember this verse, it is important to the whole story. In fact, if one were asked to give a one sentence summary of Lazarus’s resurrection, this verse would be the perfect fit.
– What does John 11:16 mean to you?
-Read John 11:25. Here Jesus is saying one of His well-known quotes, He is also ministering to Martha’s soul. Remember how He told the disciples he would wake Lazarus even though he was dead? Now He is telling Martha that those who believe in Him will never die. Martha affirms that she believes Jesus is the Messiah, but could she have possibly grasped everlasting life? Do you think Martha was one hundred percent sure that Jesus was the Son of God?
– Beyond Martha, there was Mary. Martha ran and got Mary who was followed by a large crowd. They all thought Jesus was the Son of God, but did they believe without doubt?
– Lets face it, they probably thought deep down that Jesus was who He claimed to be, He would have come before Lazarus died and saved His life. (11:37) But God doesn’t work in terms of human confinement.
– John 11:35 says simply that “Jesus wept.” As He viewed the tomb. It goes beyond Jesus demonstrating His human side, much deeper. Jesus was showing that God weeps for us all. That God cares for us all. If we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, does that not mean Christ loves us like we are family? He was not just weeping for Lazarus, He was weeping because man is dead in their sin.
-In 11:41, Jesus thanks God for the miracle that was about to occur to reveal Himself and His glory through Christ.
-We all know how the rest of the story goes. Jesus says “Lazarus come out!” (11:43) and Lazarus comes forth to be amongst the living again.
-Lazarus is a Hebrew name that means “God is my help”. The name itself is symbolic of God’s love. We come to God stuck in our sinful ways and He brings life to our worldly death. Lazarus’s story proves two things: God is the God of those that are living, and God can give new life to a dead soul. (Dead soul representing a sinner’s ways)
– It is a long accepted theory that the resurrection of Lazarus was foreshadowing of Christ’s own resurrection. Such a claim could be substantiated by the fact that immediately after the miracle, people headed to the Pharisees and brought about a plot for His death.
– What is even more telling is that people miss the point that had the resurrection of Lazarus been enough to make people believe, Christ would have never had to be crucified.
-Are we any different now than we were then? When God reveals Himself to us, we take it in, but we go back to our old ways time and time again.
– It is because man was so wrapped in their sin that they plotted Jesus’s death IMMEDIATELY after the miracle.
-Do we catch that? God reveals things to us and blesses us and we turn away time and time again.
– The closed tomb represents our hearts without Jesus in them. During that time, beloved people were buried in tombs to symbolize their death and a large stone was rolled over the entrance. That is how we are before we accept Jesus and let Him into our hearts. We have this large stone covering our sinful heart and Jesus comes to us and says “Let me move that stone and come in” because He is the only one with the power to move and break the stone. In the tomb is foul odor and filth, not to mention a decomposing human being. That’s the reality. We are all like that. The stench from our sin and the filth of our transgressions cause our very souls to decompose and become tainted with the ways of this world. We are seemingly trapped in the tomb until we allow Jesus to move the stone and tell us to come out. Notice the story never once mentions Jesus rolling the stone back over the tomb entrance. Once that stone is rolled, Jesus cleans out our tomb and makes us reborn and new.
-The “grave clothes” (11:44) that Lazarus came out in represent the barrier between us and God. The linens are all of our sins, and when Christ called for them to be removed, He was signaling that He is the vessel for us to become cleansed and forgiven of all of our sins. This does not mean that we are still not far from God because of our sin, rather it means that we need Jesus to make us clean. The issue is that we always seem to put our “grave clothes” right back on and wear them with honor. Why is that?
-Isaiah 64: 6 “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”
What Does It All Mean?
The story of Lazarus’s resurrection is a focal point in the stories told of Jesus in the Bible. To put it in a historical tone, the life and stories of Jesus were never written down until about forty years after His death. This means that there was something so unique, so special about one man and all He did on the earth that the witnesses’ accounts remained vivid, detailed, and precise for many years solely by memory.
The story reflects our lives as sinners before we accept Christ. We live dead in the tombs of our hearts with the stench of death clouding our emotions. When we allow Christ to some in, He rolls the stone away and calls us from the inside to be born again into His love and grace. The Gospel of John mentions in 20:20 that Jesus performed many other sign and miracles that were not recorded. Yet this one was. Because this miracle represents the starting point of Christian life, the starting point of a new direction, the starting point of new life.
Questions For Discussion
1) Which verse in the story of Lazarus’s resurrection speaks the most to you? Why?
2) What parallels do you draw between your life when you asked Jesus to come in and Lazarus’s resurrection?
3) Imagine yourself in that time. When you witnessed Lazarus emerge from the tomb, what would the first thing coming from your mouth be?
4) Some claim that Lazarus was never actually dead and he was accidentally put into the tomb. There are two key verses in the story which debunk that theory. What are they?
5) In John 11:16, Thomas says “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”. What does that statement mean to you? What things held you back from accepting Jesus? What things did you find hardest giving up when you accepted Jesus into your life?