John 11:37-44 “The Resurrection of Lazarus”

Introduction:  Jesus has returned to Judea for the purpose of raising Lazarus from the dead.  He had told this plainly to His disciples. Upon arriving Jesus met with Martha and told her that her brother would rise again. She did not understand this to mean that he would do so that very day but thought that Jesus spoke of the general resurrection of the saved in the last days.  After explaining to her that He was the resurrection she proclaims her saving faith in Him. Mary meets with Jesus and is weeping, so much so that Jesus does not try to comfort her at all but weeps Himself and asks to be lead to the grave.

            Jesus wept because of the unbelief of those in this crowd.  Some of this unbelief is on the part of those who are lost and some of it is on the part of those who are saved.  Jesus weeps for both.

I. The question raised by the Jews.

(John 11:37)  And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

            The first reaction to Jesus weeping was by the Jews who said “behold how He loved him.”  They were impressed with Jesus’ show of emotion. They seemed to be even amazed by it.  But some raise a question which needs answering. Could Jesus with His demonstrated power over disease even to the point of healing a blind man not have caused this friend to live instead of die? The answer is yes. Which raises another question namely; “why did He not heal Lazarus?” We know that Jesus did not heal Lazarus because through his sickness and death God would be glorified. Looking back upon this event it is easy to see that God did get great glory from the sickness and death of Lazarus but the people in this crowd and, most especially, the disciples, Mary, and Martha could not see the outcome.  They should have trusted in Jesus and accepted His words of comfort.

            The Jews who raise this question are implying one of two things.  The first is the possibility that Jesus did not have the power to heal the blind or the sick and that is why Lazarus died. The second possibility is that Jesus does have the power to heal and chose not to which would bring into question whether He was a true friend of Lazarus.  They had observed that He loved Lazarus based upon Jesus weeping. Giving them the benefit of a doubt they may have simply been puzzled as to why Jesus had not intervened on behalf of His friend.


(John 11:38)  Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

            Jesus groans in Himself.  He is still greave over the unbelief of this crowd.  What more could Jesus have done or said that would make these people have faith in Him?  He did so many miracles yet they still did not believe.  He fulfilled so many prophecies yet they still did not believe.

            The grave was a cave with a large stone rolled over the entrance.  This would indicate that Lazarus was a fairly wealthy man from a fairly wealthy family.  Such graves were usually owned only by the well off.  The ointment which Mary will use to anoint Jesus is very expensive which also is an indication of wealth. Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven.  This rich man had beat the odds and was indeed a part of the Kingdom.  He had been saved. It is quite a contrast between this Lazarus and that one which was a beggar.  Both were saved and both had riches in Heaven. Ones financial standing may keep them from serving God as they should.  The poor may worry and labor over their needs and forget God and the Rich may say “I have no need of God.”  The two men named Lazarus did not let their financial standing keep them from  being saved.


(John 11:39)  Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days.

            Jesus gives a command to take away the stone from the mouth of the grave.  This action is surprising.  Contact with the dead made a person ceremonially unclean. The dead are buried for a reason and a very good reason indeed.

            Martha speaks up reminding Jesus that her brother has been dead for four days and by now is stinking.  It would be almost un-bearable to open the tomb due to the smell.  Martha does not understand even now what Jesus is about to do.


(John 11:40)  Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

            Jesus had told Martha that her brother would rise again.  He had told her that He was the resurrection and the life and that because her brother had believed in Him though he was dead yet he would live. Jesus had sent word by the messenger to Martha saying that this sickness was for the Glory of God.  If she had believed the message she would have known to wait patiently upon the Lord and all would turn out fine and more than fine for God would be greatly glorified.


(John 11:41)  Then they took away the stone [from the place] where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up [his] eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

            The men had most likely hesitated at Jesus command to remove the stone and though they voiced no objection to His command object they did. After Martha voiced the objection and received a mild rebuke the men proceed to open the tomb.  I do not know if the stench of death came forth out of the tomb or not the scriptures do not say.  I want think that it did indeed smell of rotting flesh.  This would be further proof to those standing about that Lazarus was dead indeed.  To have there be no smell at all would have been miraculous as well.  This would also have impressed the crowd.  Which ever the case the tomb was opened and Jesus proceeds to pray.

            Jesus lifted up His eyes.  I was taught, after the manner of the publican of Luke 18:13, to bow my head when I pray. Jesus wanted all to know that He was speaking to God the Father. In the presence of them all He looked up to Heaven and prayed out loud.

            Jesus tells His Father thank you for hearing me.  Jesus had previously prayed to His Father and His Father had heard and answered His prayers on every occasion prior to this day. Martha knew that Jesus could ask God for anything and God would grant His request and she was right.  Jesus never asks amiss.  He had sought and gotten permission from the Father to do the miracle the people are about to see.  Jesus wants them to know that He is the one who was sent by God the Father into the world.


(John 11:42)  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said [it], that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

            Jesus knows the mind of the Father and says a thing which would not normally need to be said for both the Father and the Son are one and the Father knows everything the Son knows.  There is never a time when Jesus is not heard by the Father. Jesus voices this fact that the people might know that it is so. Jesus said it so that the people might believe that Jesus is indeed the Christ of God, the savior of men. It is comforting to know that Jesus is our mediator, intercessor, and advocate with the Father and He is always heard by the Father.


(John 11:43)  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

            After this brief prayer Jesus cries out with a loud voice.  The volume is not for the sake of Lazarus but that the crowd might hear His words.  As far as Lazarus is concerned Jesus could have whispered the command he would have come forth.  Jesus cries “Lazarus come forth.”  Some have conjectured that had Jesus not specified Lazarus’ name that all the dead would have risen. That would have only been the case if Jesus had wanted it to be. 


(John 11:44)  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.


            Lazarus came forth.  He was alive again. I imagine that the crowd may have been afraid as this body wrapped in grave clothes came forth out of the grave. Lazarus had to rise from a lying down position bound in grave clothes. This must surely have been difficult and to add to the difficulty He had to try and see through a napkin that was wrapped about his face. The crowd stands in awe and speechless at this wondrous sight. Jesus has to tell them to snap out of it and loose him and let him go. 

            I wonder how it felt to be raised from the dead? I will one day know. If I am dead when Jesus comes again I will know what it is like. Lazarus had to leave the bosom of Abraham to return to the earth and be reunited with his body.  When the Lord calls the saved forth from their graves they will leave the paradise of God and be given a new resurrected body which will never taste death again. Lazarus had to go through the dying process twice. We will have to go through it but once. The Lost will die a second death in the lake of fire while the saved live in an immortal and incorruptible body forever.  A body like unto the resurrected Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.