John’s Gospel is interspersed with miracle stories and Jesus’ teaching segments. It is interesting to note that normally John makes the miracle stories short and punchy. His purpose is to collect these stories to demonstrate his theme of who Jesus is with the practical examples of what Jesus did. But the brevity of the stories is remarkable. The longest is 15 verses (Feeding the 5000) but normally less than that. The story of Lazarus is by far the longest one of all. He wants to draw our attention to the significance of this miracle story. In fact he tells us “as a result of this Jesus stopped his public ministry” (Jn 11:54). The ironic twist is that Lazarus resurrection from the dead led to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Lazarus story is the supreme example of a miracle story. You can’t get much better than this – able to change water to wine, various healings, feeding 5000 people with a packed lunch, walking on water - but now raising the dead. It just keeps getting better and better. Of course this all fits if this One before us is The Resurrection and the Life (Jn 11:25). This story is the culmination of the everlasting life theme, the proof of the raising up at the last day motif. So it stands to reason that John will make much of it and that is indeed what he does. The story has very interesting angles to it. We will investigate some of them over the following Gems.
As result of Lazarus’ resurrection he became the centre of attention. “When all the people heard of Jesus' arrival, they flocked to see Him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus too” (John 12:9-10). Is it possible that the Lazarus experience sparked the extravagant response of Mary in John 12:1-19? How would you feel toward the one who brought your brother back from the dead? Is it possible that the Lazarus incident also had a significant influence on the crowd’s response? This story is highly significant in the gospel of John and is like the crowning example of the miracle stories so that after this event John announces that “Jesus stopped his public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a place near the wilderness, to the village of Ephraim, and stayed there with His disciples”. The rest of his time in the gospel of John is spent with his disciples before the events leading to the crucifixion.
Now let’s spend the next Gems looking into this passage and see what we can find. Go before me and find some yourself. I am not intending to comment on them all. If in the end you find some that I don’t comment on, share them with me. Bless me in return with what you have discovered for yourself in the Word of God. I don’t have enough hours in my lifetime to fully explore the depths of His Word.
Develop "the velvet hammer" by learning to say hard things in a soft way.
A smile is contagious; be a carrier.