Jesus’ Life and Ministry
When Lazarus Is Resurrected
JESUS, along with those accompanying him, now arrives at the memorial tomb of Lazarus. Actually, it is a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. “Take the stone away,” Jesus says.
Martha objects, not yet understanding what Jesus intends to do. “Lord,” she says, “by now he must smell, for it is four days.”
But Jesus asks: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
So the stone is removed. Then Jesus raises his eyes and prays: “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. True, I knew that you always hear me; but on account of the crowd standing around I spoke, in order that they might believe that you sent me forth.” Jesus prays publicly so that the people will know that what he is about to do will be accomplished through power received from God. Then he cries out with a loud voice: “Lazarus, come on out!”
At that, Lazarus comes out. His hands and feet are still bound with burial wrappings, and his face is covered with a cloth. “Loose him and let him go,” Jesus says.
On seeing the miracle, many of the Jews that had come to comfort Mary and Martha put faith in Jesus. Others, however, go off to tell the Pharisees what has occurred. They and the chief priests immediately arrange for a meeting of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin.
The Sanhedrin includes Pharisees and Sadducees, chief priests, the present high priest, Caiaphas, and former high priests. These lament: “What are we to do, because this man performs many signs? If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
Although the religious leaders admit that Jesus “performs many signs,” the only thing they are concerned about is their own position and authority. The raising of Lazarus is an especially powerful blow to the Sadducees, since they do not believe in the resurrection.
Caiaphas, who is perhaps a Sadducee, now speaks up, saying: “You do not know anything at all, and you do not reason out that it is to your benefit for one man to die in behalf of the people and not for the whole nation to be destroyed.”
God influenced Caiaphas to say this, for the apostle John later wrote: “This, though, [Caiaphas] did not say of his own originality.” What Caiaphas actually meant was that Jesus should be killed to prevent Him from further undermining their positions of authority and influence. Yet, according to John, ‘Caiaphas prophesied that Jesus was destined to die not for the nation only, but in order that God’s children might be gathered together.’ And, indeed, it is God’s purpose that his Son die as a ransom for all.
Caiaphas now succeeds in influencing the Sanhedrin to make plans to kill Jesus. But Jesus, possibly learning of these plans from Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin who is friendly to him, departs from there. John 11:38-54.
◆ Why does Jesus pray publicly before resurrecting Lazarus?
◆ How do those who saw this resurrection respond to it?
◆ What reveals the wickedness of members of the Sanhedrin?
◆ What was the intention of Caiaphas, but what did God use him to prophesy?