INTRODUCTION: This seventh sign/miracle shows the fulfillment of our Lord’s promise to all who believe in His name, as He called Lazarus out of the grave and restored him from death to life. This passage shows that even though Jesus knew Lazarus was sick He actually waited until Lazarus was dead and buried before He responded to his sisters’ request for help. He did this so He could bring Lazarus back to life. It is an unmistakable model of the resurrection power of God!
I. The Request (11:3). Mary and Martha were the sisters of Lazarus. They sent word to Jesus that his friend was sick. It is interesting that included in the request and recorded in John’s Gospel is the phrase “he whom You love is sick.” John refers to Himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. It is almost as if John notices the importance of the friendship and doesn’t omit this detail.
II. The Reluctance (11:6). I would think that hearing the news that Lazarus whom was one that Jesus loved was sick that Jesus would sprint to the place where he lay. Not so. Jesus tarried and didn’t depart for two days. We know that the Holy Spirit was guiding Jesus and that there was a divine reason for the delay. It is true in our lives as well. Sometimes we get angry because of the delay but God is always on time! “He’s an on-time God… yes, He is!”
III. The Reassurance (11:40). By the time Jesus arrived Lazarus had been in dead four days. Mary and Martha had given up hope. Aaron Wilburn wrote the following: “Lord if you had been here You could have healed him; he’d still be alive. But You’re four days late and all hope is gone. Lord we don’t understand why You’ve waited so long. O, but His way is God’s way; not yours or mine. And isn’t it great that when He’s four days late He’s still on time.” The body of Lazarus was stinking and they had left him in the tomb. They had given up. All hope was gone as far as they were concerned. They did not realize that with Jesus hope is never gone! He wanted to know where the grave was. He wanted to know the place where they gave up? It is never a pretty. The Lord wants to know where we gave up. He wants us to show him where our efforts were not sufficient. He wants to see the place where our faith ran weak. In essence, He wants to know where the dead things in our lives have been placed (i.e. relationships, marriage, employment, education, family, etc.).
IV. The Resurrection (11:43-44). Mary and Martha believed in the resurrection and that their brother would be raised to life in the Last Day. What they failed to realize is that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!” The answer to their problem was Jesus. He is the answer to every problem. They just needed help in redirecting their faith to the present. “Now, faith is the….” It is a NOW thing! Do you want to see life now?
V. The Release (11:44). I have heard many preachers comment that if Jesus had not called the name of Lazarus then every dead person would have come forth. When Lazarus came out of the tomb the grave clothes had him bound. When Jesus brings things back to life we can expect that some people will want to keep the grave cloths on. We have to be willing to release the things that Jesus has brought back from the dead. They now have life! “Live and Let Live.”
CONCLUSION: It is fitting for this sign/miracle to be last as it symbolizes Jesus being raised from the dead. In this miracle, Jesus shows Himself as the Resurrection and the Life, and shows His power over death even before His own resurrection. There are similarities in the two resurrections (i.e. tomb, stone rolled away). The same power that raised Lazarus and Jesus from the dead will also raise those who believe in Jesus.