Lazarus, His Sisters, and Jesus

John chapter 11 has to do with bringing Lazarus back to life. This chapter has 57 verses, but we are just going to pick out some of the verses and fill you in on the rest.

The story begins with a couple of sisters named Martha and Mary and their brother, Lazarus. The three of them lived in Bethany, a little village not far from Jerusalem. They were very close to Jesus, and Jesus loved them very much. They sent Him word on this particular occasion and said, “Lazarus, whom You love is sick.” They knew that if Jesus came He would do something about that. Strange thing happened. As much as Jesus loved Lazarus, for some reason when He heard that Lazarus was sick He did not go. He stayed where He was for another two days. Let’s start reading with verse 11.

John 11:11-12, 14 These things said He to His disciples, Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.
12 Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleeps, he shall do well.
14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

So Jesus goes to Bethany to the home of Martha and Mary. They had already buried Lazarus when He got there.

John 11:20-25 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat still in the house.
21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever You ask of God, God will give it to You.
23 Jesus said unto her, Your brother shall rise again.
24 Martha said to Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection...

I am the resurrection – this is one of the things pointed out in this story. They believed that Jesus was the Messiah, the Christ that was to come. They believed in the resurrection. Some of the Jews did not. The Sadducees, for example, were a group that did not believe. But Mary and Martha said, “We believe. We know that in the last day….” This is where religion is usually found, looking to the last day. “We know that one day it will happen; one day in the future." Jesus is trying to get them to see that they were looking for something in the future. “I am the resurrection.” As long as you are putting something in the future, you cannot experience it. You cannot experience anything that is in the past or in the future. That is the reason Jesus said, “I am the resurrection!"

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

Now, I need to point out one thing here. He that believes in Me – you realize that these Scriptures were originally written in the Greek and have been translated into English. The King James Bible was written by a group of men who knew Greek, and King James had them translate the Greek New Testament into English. Sometime they would translate something according to the way they believed it should be. Well, the Greek does not say, He that believes in Me. The Greek reads: He that believes into Me. That does not make much sense to the natural mind, so they changed it to say, He that believes in Me.

But Jesus is trying to reveal a real truth: He that believes into Me. He says, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes into Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. There is a believing that something is true. But there is another kind of believing that moves you INTO. You can say, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ.” That is wonderful. The devils believed that Jesus was Christ the Son of God (Matthew 8;29), but that was no big deal. Do you believe? Well, the devils believed too, but they do not believe INTO. We want to be Christians, but we want to be the kind of Christians that our faith and our believing take us INTO His life so that we experience Him. He is in us and we are in Him, that we become one. Jesus is trying to get this across to Mary and Martha. Lazarus getting sick and dying is a good way to bring this point home and to teach them. “I am the resurrection and I am the life,” Jesus says, “And he that believes INTO Me, though he dies, yet shall he live.”

Here is a very basic truth that many people miss: God, and God alone, is able to cause a person to continue to live after his body dies. He can do that. Think about it. How many times did God say, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”? Why does He say that? Well, He is not the God of the dead; He is the God of the living. So when He says, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,” He is saying, “Those men are still living. They are still alive.” And if we believe into Him, He is the resurrection. By coming into His life, we have entered life. We have entered a new realm where there is no more death. Well, what about the body? The body is just what you live in while you are here. It is the outer shell but we continue to live. God alone can do that. He can cause you to live.

Think about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They are around here. “Well, they are in heaven.” Where do you think heaven is? Heaven is the presence of the Lord. The presence of God is heaven. It is not merely a place – it is God. That is what Jesus is trying to get across to Mary and Martha. The resurrection is not just an event that takes place one day. Jesus is the resurrection, and we can enter into His life. God is omnipresent, and if that is the case, then heaven is not off somewhere but it is here. It is another plane, another realm. Remember when Jesus went up on the Mount of Transfiguration with Peter, James, and John? While Jesus was there, suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared and talked with Jesus. It was not that Moses and Elijah just suddenly swooped down. They were there, but at that moment Peter, James and John were able to see them. Jesus, being the Christ, being God in man, has the ability to live in heaven and in earth, both at the same time (John 3:13). He is the connecting link (John 1:51) and when you move into His life, you start your journey of moving into heaven without leaving this earth. Do you understand?

However, too many Christians are just like Mary and Martha, “Oh, I believe that in the last day, that one day Jesus is going to come back.” What makes you think He is gone? The reason you think He is gone is because your life is separate from His. When you move into His life and He moves into your life, suddenly that futuristic doctrine of Jesus coming back begins to vanish and disappear. So you ask, “Is there scripture for that?” Of course there is. 2 Thessalonians 1:10: When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe. Now how is Jesus as an individual going to come into all of them that believe? He is Spirit! Jesus said, “I go to the Father” (John 16:16). He had already said, “The Father and I are One. If you have seen Me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9-11). Now He says, “I go to the Father.” What does He mean? He is saying, “I am going to Spirit.” One of His disciples asked Him, “What is it that You mean we are not going to see You anymore?” Jesus answered, “In a little while you will see Me,” but in a different way. When they are filled with the Spirit, their eyes are opened and they become aware of His presence although He is not there in bodily form (John 14:19).

The Lord Jesus Christ is God and He is Spirit. Does that mean He cannot appear in bodily form? He can do it anytime He wants to! But if you are waiting for Jesus to appear in a bodily form and set up a literal kingdom here on earth, it just is not going to happen that way. The Kingdom of God comes without observation (Luke 17:20). “What do you mean ‘without observation’?” It means you cannot see it with your eyes, you cannot hear it with your ears, and you cannot feel it with your hands. It is spiritual.

So we enter into His life and Jesus is trying to get across these spiritual truths to Mary and Martha. “Martha, it is not one day in the future. You cannot experience what is in the future. I am the resurrection.” Let’s read on.

John 11:26 And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die…

That does not mean your natural body is going to continue to breathe forever, but what you are continues. You are spirit and you are not going to die. You are just not aware of it! What does this old body do? It gets diseases, sick, all kinds of problems, cancer, diabetes. Man, you talk about hell. There it is! When you shed this body, you will have life and you will have life abundantly. You will be amazed at how much is lifted off of you, the freedom that you will have. Not only that, but you will have a lot of friends – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Isaiah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You become part of that cloud of witnesses that Hebrews 11:1 talks about.

John 11:26-28 And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?
27 She said unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calls for you.

Now, let’s go on down to verse 32.

John 11:32-36 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother had not died.
33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the Spirit, and was troubled.
34 And said, “Where have you laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Now said the Jews, Behold how He loved him!

The Jews thought Jesus was weeping over the fact that Lazarus had died. No, He was not. What caused His spirit to be troubled? What caused Jesus to weep? The unbelief. It is like Jesus was saying, “When are they going to really believe?” When will we get over our religiosity and really believe? Believe that He is? Believe that His presence is here? Believe that we can share His life? Believe that He literally can come forth within us and change what we are, the way we think, the way we feel, and the way we act! Everything about our human nature is opposed to Christ. This is why Jesus is weeping here – the unbelief.

John 11:37-39 And some of them said, Could not this man which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused even this man should not have died?
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself came to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said unto Him, Lord, by this time he stinks; for he has been dead four days.

Here again the Greek is a little different. In the Greek it says, Lord, by this time he stinks; he is a fourth day man. What is a fourth-day man? Among the Jews was a belief that after the fourth day of death the spirit has left the body and decay started. When the decay started on the fourth day, at that point it was completely impossible to restore that person to life. It could not be done. Now we are beginning to see why Jesus waited. He waited until it was completely impossible for Lazarus to come back to life. Then He was there to perform a miracle. Does that lead you back to what we have talked about before? With man it is impossible but with God all things are possible. Life comes forth out of death. That is a principle in the Scriptures.

John 11:40, 43-45 Jesus said unto her, Did I not say unto you that if you would believe, you should see the glory of God?
43 And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.

Here is an interesting thing: Lazarus came forth out of that cave and he still had on the grave clothes where they had wrapped him. Jesus said, “Unloose him and let him go.” When we begin coming into the Lord, things do not happen just immediately. Lazarus lived again, but some work had to be done. He had to be loosed from his grave clothes. Even when we become Christians and Jesus becomes our Lord, we realize there is a lot of work that yet has to be done and we need the ministry of others to begin to bless us and loose us and bring forth the Christ within us, to unwrap the old things of human nature so that we can be free to serve the Lord. The old way of thinking has to change, like Martha and Mary – “Lord, if You had been here our brother would not have died.”

“Do you believe that he will rise again?”

“Oh yes, in the last day. Sometime in the future this will happen.”

It is an amazing thing that when people put things in the future, they never happen. They never experience them.

Copyright © 2009 by Henry DuBose