I Am the Resurrection
The funeral director and I awaited a family’s arrival for a graveside service. He pointed out a statue depicting Jesus and said, “We call that ‘Graveyard Jesus.’” Appropriately, “I am the resurrection and the life” was etched on the pedestal. Jesus proved Himself Lord over the grave. Raising Lazarus demonstrated His power over death and revealed Him as Creator of life. Celebrate how Jesus won the war against death.
Jesus’ friend Lazarus died. Lazarus’ sisters Martha and Mary sent for Jesus prior to the death, but He delayed His visit. By the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead four days. The sisters insisted Jesus could have healed their brother if He had come before the death. The Lord observed the agonizing grief of the sisters and others who were present. What He saw “deeply moved and troubled” Him. He identified with their grief. Jesus experienced human emotions and related with the feelings of others.
Jesus requested a visit to the gravesite. He wept as they escorted Him there, but He didn’t shed tears for Lazarus. Jesus knew His friend would live again. He grieved for His bereaved friends and mourned the lack of faith many demonstrated.
The gathered crowds responded in two ways to Jesus’ emotional display. Some attributed it to a love for Lazarus. Others wondered skeptically why Jesus healed others but not His friend Lazarus.
At the graveside, Jesus expressed deep emotion. He requested removal of the stone that sealed the tomb. Martha protested. After being dead four days, Lazarus’ body would reek. Jews didn’t embalm, which necessitated speedy burial. Jews believed the deceased’s spirit hovered around the body for three days in hopes of reentering the body. After four days, no doubt of permanent death existed.
Jesus affirmed to Martha and others present that only believers comprehend “the glory of God.” Jesus prepared to reveal the power of God at work to those who trust Him. He readied Himself to perform a miracle through which believers could experience God’s purpose in Christ.
The stone was removed. Jesus spoke a prayer of thanksgiving for the Father’s responsiveness. The prayer expressed gratitude for an event yet to come. Jesus already knew the Father’s heart in the matter. He asserted confidence that the Father always hears and responds.
Why a spoken prayer? It highlighted the source of Jesus’ power. He did not ask for divine ability. He possessed it already. The prayer removed any doubt that the coming miracle was God’s power in action.
Jesus’ voice rose and directed Lazarus to exit the tomb. The vocal command affirmed to those present that Jesus executed the miracle. The four-day dead man, wrapped head to toe, came out, and Jesus ordered removal of the cloth strips so Lazarus could resume living. No sign of decay lingered. Jesus defeated death. The miracle demonstrates God’s power to recreate life. He exerts authority over everything He creates. No person is beyond our sovereign God’s ability to restore. After death, the Lord makes believers whole for eternity.
Many saw the sign, but reactions to it differed. Some believed in Jesus because of the miracle. Others reported His activities to the Pharisees. Efforts to do away with Him intensified, and the cross came into view. Affirm your faith in Christ, the Provider and Sustainer of life.
By Darryl Wood
Retired pastor, current hospice chaplain and interim pastor