Article By: Frank Tunstall, D. Min
Find the original article HERE.
The Lazarus story is full of human pain and disappointment. It unveils high drama fed by the rawest of human emotions. Many of the great stress issues families’ face will be in this study. One of them is how are we to manage our faith when God does not answer our prayers the way we pray them. Another is discovering that suffering can actually have benefits. Still another is having the opportunity to witness agape love in action. And another demonstrates how religious people can despise God and fight Him with everything in them.
Yes, the Apostle John looked death squarely in the eye as he described the human condition. In doing so, John 11 is the story of the undeniable manifestation of Jesus’ awesome resurrection power that foreshadows the Lord’s own resurrection. Jesus’ personal resurrection authority proves He is the Son of God, the resurrection and the life.
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha” (John 11:1).
The primary players in this drama are:
Jesus Christ, in the relationship He enjoyed with His Father and the Holy Spirit, His co-equals in the Tri-Unity of the God who is One.
Two sisters and their brother—Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
The mourners who cried with Mary and Martha.
The national Jewish leaders who hated Jesus and plotted to murder Him.
The common people from Bethany and from Jerusalem, who came to Bethany just to see Lazarus.
Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. The town was far enough from the Holy City to enjoy suburban living, and close enough to have a good grasp of events transpiring there. This village’s place is forever established in salvation history as the home of Lazarus and his sisters, Mary, and Martha. The setting was perfect for the powerful miracle in the ministry of Jesus that is second only to the resurrection of the Lord Himself.
In choosing Bethany for this most important miracle, Jesus knew exactly what He was doing, and it reveals the Lord as the ultimate strategic thinker. With Bethany so close by, one can be certain what Jesus did in Bethany quickly became news in Jerusalem; the reports, in fact, would sprout wings and fly straight into the halls of the Sanhedrin. Raising Lazarus would also push Caiaphas the high priest over the edge, and he would sign the order for Jesus’ arrest (John 11:57).
Jesus permitted His enemies to put Him in chains, but as the sacrificial Lamb of God He alone controlled the timing (John 1:29, 34).
When this story began to unfold, it is probable Jesus was still at Bethabara, a hard, uphill days’ walk to Lazarus’ home in Bethany.
The timeline of the drama fits into the ministry of Jesus in His last winter before Calvary. The events played out sometime between the Feast of Hanukkah and the annual celebration of Passover. Jesus’ crucifixion was, at most, only a few weeks away.
Ancient Bethany today is populated largely by Palestinians and Arabs, and the name of the town is el-Azariyeh. The term means “the place of Lazarus.”
A particular tomb in Bethany has been recognized since the second century AD as the place where Lazarus’ broken-hearted sisters laid their brother to rest, and where Jesus raised him from the dead.
This site witnesses to the historical integrity of the New Testament because this tomb has been largely undisputed for almost two millennia as the site of the greatest of Jesus’ miracles leading up to His resurrection.
This study will take us up to Easter 2023.
I had the high privilege to visit Lazarus’ tomb about 50 years ago when I was a graduate student at Oral Roberts University. Dr. R. O. Corvin was our tour leader. The memorable event made such an impact on me I can vividly recall today the layout of the tomb and those winding, stone steps. Lazarus climbed them at Jesus’ command and did it with his head wrapped in grave clothes. Wow!
Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and then came out of the grave Himself. Without question, He has the power to raise us too!
My goal for the New Year is to share a lesson weekly. I invite you to join the journey and encourage some friends to come with you.
Article Submitted by: Mike Ainsworth
Cornerstone Conference IPHC