Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” — John 11:43 (NLT)
We’re following a series of articles that look at what Jesus did when He was here on earth, and today we reach one of the most amazing facts we could never imagine if it were not written in the Bible.
What did Jesus do? He accepted the unacceptable, He invited in the left out, He loved the unlovable, He reached out to the unreachable, He forgave the unforgivable; He would eat with those who He shouldn’t even meet, He fed the hungry; He released the captives, He delivered the possessed; He moved the mountains, He calmed the seas; He healed the sick … and today we learn that He raised the dead!
Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
John 11:40-44 (NLT)
What an absolutely amazing sight that must have been to behold: a man, who was previously not just dead, but buried in a process that would have taken days – in fact, the dead man’s sister had already told Jesus that he would have been dead for four days – but nevertheless came out of his grave when Jesus called him. How must he have felt? The man who had been dead. We cannot imagine, can we. Disorientated? He was still wrapped in graveclothes and his face wrapped in a headcloth, and he wouldn’t have been able to see anything. But he could hear. He could hear the voice of Jesus, calling Him from the grave, “Come out!” He must have been frightened, let alone disorientated, fearful despite feeling alive once more, fretful but still daring to come forth, back into the land of the living.
Where had he been? Had he been aware of where he was? What had he seen? Had he been with the angels, or somewhere less appealing? We will never know.
Jesus only raised two other people that we know about in the Bible: Jairus’ daughter, which you can read about in Matthew 9:18-26, in Mark 5:21-43, and in Luke 8:49-56; and the son of the widow of Nain, which you can read about in Luke 7:11-17. Personally, I have always thought that the most important messages about the life of Jesus are recounted in many, if not all, the Gospels. The story about Jairus’ daughter was, indeed, included in three of the four Gospels. However, the story of the son of the widow of Nain is only told in one Gospel, the Gospel of Luke. It’s as if this wasn’t a particularly important feature of Jesus’ ministry.
Today, if we were to hear of someone being raised from the dead, ALL the newspapers and the news media would want to cover the story, not just one! And for us today, it’s a HUGE story, isn’t it? We are so amazed and taken aback by these stories that they stretch our faith. Or is it just me? Am I alone in asking the questions: really? Did this really happen? Were they really dead? Or did they just make a mistake, and they weren’t really dead after all?
But we cannot discount the fact that Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. The fact that he was dead would have been pretty obvious to everyone who had attended to him, there would have been no doubt whatsoever after this length of time. So, we have to accept that, yes, they were dead. And we also have to accept that by some divine intervention – Jesus, the Son of God and God Himself, together with the Holy Spirit – brought them back to life.
Amazing, astonishing, astounding. Unbelievable? Yes. Unacceptable? No. That’s where our faith kicks in. Our faith in the Bible as the infallible Word of God. The real challenge comes when we read the Bible further and realise that we are meant to carry out the same kind of miracles and healing, including raising people from the dead, today.
I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.
John 14:12 (NLT)
Now to truly believe that is a real stretch of faith. Is it just me; am I the only one who has to pray, as was said in Mark 9:24 by the man whose son was healed: “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief”? To help us in our unbelief, we read in Acts that the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul raised people from the dead. You can read the account of Peter raising Tabitha in Acts 9:36-42 and the account of Paul raising Eutychus in Acts 20:7-12. The early apostles set the bar. We, too, are disciples who believe in Christ and “will do the same works I have done, and even greater works.” Let our faith arise, and let us believe, even as we pray, “help us overcome our unbelief.”
May we pray: Thank You, Lord, that Your promise states that we can do the same works that You did on earth. Help us overcome our unbelief, and help us do Your will on earth, in Your mighty name, and for Your glory alone. We ask this in the precious name of our Saviour, Christ Jesus; Amen.
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