“Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’ Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’ " (John 11:41-43).
What is the one aspect of Christianity that makes it unique among the world religions? Like other religions Christianity has a “moral code” by which its adherents are to live, but unlike other religions, a basic tenet of Christianity is the belief in a resurrection of the body from the grave. How much time do you spend thinking about the resurrection of the body?
As Jesus neared the end of His earthly ministry, He hears that His friend Lazarus is sick (John 11:1-3). In fact, Lazarus’ sickness resulted in his death (John 11:14). Martha, Lazarus’ sister, meets Jesus and mentions to Him how if Jesus had been there Lazarus would not have died (John 11:21). However, Jesus told Martha, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Martha thought Jesus was speaking about the resurrection at the last day (John 11:24), but Jesus knew Lazarus was going to be raised from the dead much sooner than this for the purposes of glorifying God (John 11:4; 40). Jesus reminded Martha of a very significant truth as he said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live” (John 11:25).
As the sisters take Jesus to the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus commands that the stone covering the entrance to the tomb be removed. Martha doubts the reason for doing this as she is concerned about the terrible stench that will come forth from there as her dead brother’s body had been decomposing in the tomb for 4 days (John 11:39). However, something far greater was going to come from the tomb than the smell of her dead brother. Lazarus himself came forth as Jesus called, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43-44).
What an amazing sight this must have been to behold by those who had come to the tomb of Lazarus that day! They saw Lazarus come out of that tomb bound hand and foot with grave clothes, but alive! Many of the Jews believed on Jesus because of this great miracle (John 11:45; cf. 12:9-10). God was glorified (John 11:4, 40).
The account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is a great reminder to us about the resurrection of our own bodies from the grave. Jesus said, “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). Christianity is not just another religion that abides by a moral code. It is far more than that. It gives us living hope of life beyond the grave. When a faithful Christian loved one passes from this life, I can look forward to seeing them again in heaven following the resurrection (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Today, I rejoice that God has giving me a living hope and I look forward to the day when Jesus calls me to come forth from the grave!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3-4).