39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go." 45 Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation." 49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. 53 Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples. 55 And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, "What do you think--that He will not come to the feast?" 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.
Questions to Consider:
The moment of truth has arrived. Lazarus has been dead for four days; the eye-witnesses are gathered; and the miracle-working Rabbi is at hand. "Take away the stone," Jesus commands. The people are alarmed, This amounts to desecrating the body of a dead person, and the body is already in the process of decay. Martha reminds Jesus that the body will create a stench at this point.
v.40 Jesus replies, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" What Jesus is stating has a direct bearing on the family and friends of Lazarus, but it also is a foreshadowing of what people, who believe in Jesus, can expect. Overcoming death reveals both the power and the good-will of God towards those that put their faith in Jesus. It is an amazing revelation of God's glory.
v.41,42 Jesus prays a very straight-to-the-point prayer. A perfect example of the kind of prayer that communicates the petition clearly without the showmanship of the religious or the repetition of the heathen. Jesus thanks the Father for already hearing Him and that He is praying for the sake of the onlookers.
v.43 "Lazarus, come forth!" Jesus commanded in a loud voice. There was movement in the tomb, and Lazarus stepped out, still bound in his graveclothes. It was a miracle that indeed revealed the glory of God.
There were two immediate reactions to this amazing event. There was the crowd that rejoiced and believed that Jesus was the Christ; and the cowardly tattle-tales who immediately ran with the news to the chief priests and Pharisees.
As the chief priests and Pharisees gathered to discuss their "Jesus" problem, there was a change in the narrative. They no longer wrote Jesus off as a blasphemer, demon possessed, or a false prophet. His miracles were proof that Jesus was a legitimate force to be reckoned with. They expressed their true concern: v.48 "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."
If you follow contemporary politics for any length of time, it is amazing how unchanged the general attitude of politicians have remained down through the centuries. Politicians are always concerned about their "place" of power. There are some exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, politicians are far more concerned about protecting their place than they are about the good of the citizens.
There is an interesting prophetic word that came from Caiaphas the high priest. v.51,52. He prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation of Israel, but that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered around the world. Indeed, Jesus build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!
v.53 From that day on the leadership of the Jews plotted to put Jesus to death, and Jesus left for the wilderness.
As the time for Passover was drawing close, the people of Jerusalem starting speculating about Jesus. At the same time the chief priests and Pharisees started to gather intelligence that they might arrest Jesus if He showed up in Jerusalem. The stage was set.
Lead Teaching Elder: