Welcome to Week 12 of the “Front Porch” Bible Study Series. In this last post of our study on JOY, we’ll look at one of the most amazing miracles of all: resurrection. When Jesus rose from the grave on the third day, His resurrection sealed our privilege of spending eternity with Him in God’s kingdom. Is there any greater JOY? Today we’ll read about the story of Lazarus’s resurrection.
Click HERE to read today’s Scripture about Jesus’s raising Lazarus from the dead.
Memory Verse: “‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die'” (John 11:25b-26a NKJV).
While Jesus ministered in another town, Mary and Martha sent word for the Lord to come to heal their sick brother, Lazarus. Although His disciples discouraged Him from going, Jesus explained, “‘This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.’” (v.4)
Two days later, Jesus and His disciples arrived in Bethany where Lazarus had already been buried for four days. Jesus spoke privately with Martha and then Mary before grieving at Lazarus’s tomb. The sisters and other mourners expressed their disappointment: Lazarus would still be alive if Jesus had come sooner. Jesus declared to Martha, “‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’” (v.25-26). Martha declared, “‘Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (v.27).
Mary and the crowd of mourners joined together to mourn at the tomb.
Everyone noticed how strongly Jesus wept along with the others. They quietly discussed how much Jesus loved Lazarus, asking “‘Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?’” (v.37).
Jesus told them to remove the stone in front of the cave. He prayed aloud to the Father, asking God to answer His prayer that people would believe in Him. Jesus then cried out with a loud voice, “‘Lazarus, come forth!’” (v.43).
Can you imagine the shock when the dead man appeared alive at the mouth of the cave, still wrapped in his grave clothes? Overjoyed, many people believed in Jesus as the Son of God, but others went to report it to the Pharisees.
As you may recall from our earlier study, Lazarus wasn’t the first person Jesus raised the dead. Remember Jairus’s daughter in Mark 5? (You can read about it HERE.)
Why do you think Jesus purposely delayed the call to go to Bethany to heal his dear friend Lazarus? Not because He didn’t care. Although He knew Lazarus would die, He also prophesied to His disciples that this sickness wouldn’t end in death (v.4). “‘And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe'” (v.15).
However, there was one good reason why Jesus planned to raise Lazarus’s body on the fourth day after burial. Since the Jews believed the spirit didn’t depart from the body for the first three days after death, this was a sign and irrefutable proof that glorified both the Father and Jesus, His Son.
What a paradox. He purposely chose his dearest friends, whom He knew He could trust to endure deep yet temporary sorrow, to prove His identity as the Son of God. We know He loved Lazarus very much, as evidenced by His emotional weeping at his tomb. But human reasoning expressed by Martha and Mary came forth loud and clear: “
But what joy filled their hearts after Lazarus was resurrected! All sorrow and disappointment vanished in that miraculous moment as they received their brother back into their loving arms. As He had said He would, Jesus used this opportunity to bring glory to the Father and prove His identity as God’s Son.
Let’s apply this lesson to our lives.
Don’t we do the same thing as Mary and Martha? When something that we treasure dies, we weep inconsolably at its tomb. We cry out that if Jesus had shown up sooner, it would still be alive.
Perhaps it’s a dream that you believe will never come to pass, and your hope is flickering out. Or maybe it’s a physical illness you’ve prayed about for a long time, but you’re still waiting on healing. Perhaps a relationship appears dead and impossible to bring back to life. Or maybe something to do with money or income has left you mourning and troubled about the future.
Just as Jesus came to Mary and Martha, let’s also take comfort that our Lord will come to minister to each of us. He is a compassionate and understanding Savior who weeps with us in our darkest hour.
Let’s listen as He speaks to our situation and commands whatever is dead to be resurrected back to life. Oh, the JOY that will fill our hearts!
Has the Lord brought you JOY by miraculously resurrecting something dead in your life?
I hope your JOY in the Lord has blossomed and grown this month. When the Holy Spirit lavishes us with the love of Jesus, gardens of JOY grow in our hearts. JOY isn’t conditional on our circumstances, thank goodness, but the Lord gives us JOY in spite of them. When we worship and praise Him through our tears, we are lifted up and out of this world. Isn’t God so good!
For more study on the topic of resurrection, click HERE for a sermon by Charles Spurgeon or HERE for a sermon by Ravi Zacharias.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for Your compassion and understanding of our human sufferings. We ask You to speak resurrection to our dying circumstances, for You are the Resurrection and the Life. We glorify You and pray these things in Jesus’s Name. Amen.
Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ~ James 5:16.