Dr. Lawrence Butler, The Bridge Church, Pembroke.
John 11:1-57 This is one of the most remarkable stories in a remarkable book man has ever read. The main character is Jesus Christ, and He demonstrates His power in a most unusual and mighty way. This incident reveals the control Christ has over death, showing that He is in no way afraid of nor bewildered by the work of death and its effect on human beings. Everything, including death, is under the control of Jesus Christ.
However, before examining this story, there are a few things we need to consider. First, none of the other gospel writers, Matthew, Mark or Luke, include this miracle in their gospels. We might justifiably ask why they don’t even mention it, much less tell such a powerful story that should only cause even more people to believe their message of Christ as the Messiah.
Let me suggest one possible reason. Mark wrote his gospel first while Matthew and Luke very possibly used that writing as a reference for their books. When their gospels were written, Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were most likely still alive. According to John’s account, the Jews were already conspiring to kill Jesus (John 11:47-57). They were in such a frenzy over the crowds that were flocking to Jesus they actually went so far as to discuss killing Lazarus because of the impact of that miracle on the people. “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:10-11). For the early writers of the history of Jesus to have included this miracle in their gospels, the result may have been the Jews actually carrying out their threats on the life of Lazarus and his sisters. Thus, when John wrote his gospel, some years later, Lazarus may have been deceased, making the concern for his life no longer valid. It seems likely that the writing of the Gospel of St. John occurred at least some forty years (and probably more) after Lazarus was raised from the dead.
This is a most wonderful story that reveals even death is subject to Christ. Soon the world would learn that death couldn’t hold Christ even when he had Him in His own grave. Everything is subject to the power of God, so fear not death for we know one who even reigns over everything, including death and eternity.