John 11:25-27 (CSB) 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me, even if he dies, will live. 26 Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world.”
John 11:45-48 (CSB) Therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what he did believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and were saying, “What are we going to do since this man is doing many signs? 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
From the very beginning, it became clear that if mankind would recover from the curse of sin it was going to require death in some way. We see this because God graciously kills some innocent creatures and clothes Adam and Eve with the skins of the animals to cover the shame, condemnation, and guilt they now experience because of sin. But those animal deaths only cover up the problem. They don’t solve the problem.
God promised Adam and Eve in the first gospel, preached by God in Genesis 3:15, that one who is a descendant of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. The serpent would wound the descendant of the woman, and in his wounding, the descendant of the woman would win back what has been lost due to sin.
That descendant, the Serpent Crusher, is none other than Jesus. He gives a glorious glimpse of his being on mission, intent, and power to save as the Serpent Crusher in John 11 in his raising of Lazarus.
When Jesus learns of Lazarus’ sickness he flat out says that this sickness is for God’s glory, so he delays going to Lazarus, Mary, and Martha for two whole days. Now that’s not what we would do. When our best friends are sick, we go and care for their needs. Jesus delays for two days.
Is that because he doesn’t love Lazarus? No!
Jesus’ purpose for Lazarus is that he would let him die and raise him back to life so others could see, believe, and be saved. Jesus loves Lazarus, and that love does not translate into keeping him from death but redeeming that death for his good, God’s glory, and the faith of those who see.
Chew on that truth applied to each one of us. Maybe God has good for me that is costly at the moment but will produce eternal good for me and others. Just something to chew on.
He also works this miracle to show the sin of those who refuse to believe when they are fearful people would trust Jesus and jeopardize their status with Rome. Temporal political stability over eternal life. That’s what Adam and Eve chose in the garden, and that curse of sin has effectively and naturally been passed on to each of their descendants since that moment. Trade the moment for eternity.
I love Martha’s response to Jesus. Martha affirms that if Jesus had been there Lazarus would not have died, and she is right. But part of Jesus’ intent is to call forth Martha’s faith for her good and our good. “Do you believe this?”, he asked. “Yes Lord, I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who comes into the world. “
Glory to God in the highest! Jesus has not even accomplished the big hairy audacious mission of dying in the place of sinners and rising from the grave, and he’s out there letting his friends die in order to raise them up and save people who will believe in him. That’s awesome. But how will Jesus secure this momentary victory?
I don’t know if you have thought of this before, but Lazarus was going to have to die again, and Jesus is not going to be physically present to raise him up.
How will Jesus secure Martha’s faith that she, Mary, Lazarus, and all those the Father has given the Son will live again in spite of death?
He was going to have to die, be buried, rise, ascend to the Father, and send the Holy Spirit to accomplish more than some temporary skins to cover some shame and guilt.
When Jesus goes to the cross, he will secure for Lazarus the security that the next time he rises, it will be forever. But Jesus still has to pay that price for Lazarus, and there is still some stiff resistance to the mission in front of him. So, Jesus has to walk that walk and prepare his disciples for that moment so their faith won’t fail.
Hang on, the ride is about to get real bumpy, but Jesus prepares us for the bumps ahead of time.