Come forth and live
John 11:1-54 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “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.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” 11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.” 12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” 16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.
30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34 and said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?”
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45 Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.
47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48 If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.
In today’s text it says: Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Although the chief priests and the Pharisees acknowledged the signs and miracles Jesus was performing, they were more concerned with losing their position and authority than with allowing the kingdom of God to manifest itself among the people. The desire to gain and hold onto human authority is one of the greatest hindrances to the true authority of God working in and through people. It really is the root of the reasoning behind those who reject God. If they acknowledge God, that He is both creator and sovereign, then, they themselves would be subject to Him. They would rather maintain their own false position of authority than be subject to the ultimate authority of God. The chief priest and the Pharisees desired to maintain their position, even though it was under the bondage of the Roman authority. Those who reject God prefer also to preserve their own limited authority, even though it is under the bondage of sin.
In Luke 4:18, when Jesus began His public ministry, He quoted the words from Isaiah 61:1, He said: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because of which He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth in deliverance the oppressed.” People were captive, in bondage to the consequences of sin. Romans 6:23 says: For the wages of sin is death. Sin causes death, both physical death and spiritual death. Jesus came to deliver us from death. Romans 6:23 continues: but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. In today’s text, Jesus also says: “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?” In John 10:10 He says: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” Jesus offers more than eternal spiritual life. He also offers abundant resurrection life now. He delivers us from oppression. Those in Jesus day were under the oppression of a man made religious authority that sought to keep them in bondage rather than leading them back to God. The chief priests and the Pharisees wanted the people to be subject to their authority, rather than free to live with God through Christ, so much so that it says, in today’s text: they planned together to kill Him. We see this today in our own society and culture, when those who wish to maintain false human authority, whether religious, political or psychological, hold people in bondage to their authority by “planning to kill” anything that is Christ. Having people know true freedom and true authority is the last thing those who hold onto their false authority want.
In today’s text it says: “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Lazarus represents both physical and spiritual death. Jesus raised him from both. He also delivered him from the oppression of false authority, giving him true freedom. Once someone has died, death no longer has power over them. There is nothing left but to live free from bondage and oppression. Today, to those who are in bondage to sin and its consequences, physical and spiritual death, to those who are oppressed by false human authority, whether religious, political or psychological, which seeks to keep them in bondage, Jesus says: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because of which He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth in deliverance the oppressed….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?... come forth.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit thank You for freedom, freedom from the bondage of sin and freedom from the oppression of man. Thank You for eternal and abundant resurrection life in and through Christ. Amen.