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Raising Lazarus from the dead.

Jesus performed many miracles.  One of the most spectacular (and well-described) miracles was raising Lazarus from the dead.

John 11:1-44 [1] Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. [2] This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. [3] So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." [4] When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." [5] Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [6] Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. [7] Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." [8] "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" [9] Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. [10] It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." [11] 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."   [12] His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." [13] Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.   [14] So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, [15] and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." [16] Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." [17] On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. [18] Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, [19] and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. [20] When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. [21] "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [22] But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." [23] Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." [24] Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." [25] Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; [26] and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" [27] "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." [28] And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." [29] When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. [30] Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. [31] When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. [32] When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." [33] When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [34] "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. [35] Jesus wept. [36] Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" [37] But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" [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 believed, you would see the glory of God?" [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."


It is important to understand that there is a difference between raising a person from the dead and resurrecting a person.  Jesus did not resurrect Lazarus. Although not stated in the Bible, Lazarus later died.  A person that is resurrected CANNOT DIE AGAIN.  That was one of Jesus' main reasons for appearing after His Resurrection -- to show us what awaits us after death.

"If Jesus was showing us what awaits us after death, how come we don't see dead people walking all around us?"

According to the Bible, there will be several general resurrections.  The first general resurrection will occur at the Rapture, when Jesus comes in the air to bring all Christians to heaven before the Tribulation.

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 "[15] According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. [16] For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."

It is important to reallize that this is only the first part of the Second Coming, when Christ ultimately returns to rule the Earth forever.  Jesus will take all believers to Heaven, then seal 144,000 Jewish men with the Holy Spirit and send them forth to evangelize the world, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ during the Tribulation. (The Tribulation is the period when God wreaks judgment on those who rejected Him during the current age, the Age of Grace.)  The Tribulation will end when Jesus comes all the way to Earth, landing on the Mount of Olives, (Zechariah 14:4).  He will then rule the world directly from Jerusalem for a thousand years.  Those who were martyred for their belief in Him will rule with Him.  This period is known as "the Millenium."  At the end of the Millenium Christ will resurrect those who died not accepting Him.  At that point there will be two judgments -- a judgment exclusively for believers, where they are given rewards according to their  works and the Great White Throne -- a judgment exclusively for non-believers, where they are condemned to Hell forever and their level of punishment is set according to the depth of their sins.

Works?  I thought good works have nothing to do with being saved!

Think of a school exam --  if you score 64 or less, you fail, if you score 65 or more, you pass.  The higher your grade, the more rewards you get.

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth "Jesus is Lord" and  believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

(Note that in Biblical usage "to confess" means "to state what you believe.")

Essentially, you can get a maximum of 35 points for good works.  You get 65 points just for believing what Romans 10:9 requires.  So, if you believe but have almost no good works, you will be saved, but you'll "smell of smoke" for eternity.  If you don't believe, you'll spend eternity in Hell.


(c) 1998 by Rick Reinckens

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