March 8, 2012
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of Him but also to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. John 12:9-11
In the fall of 2011, Mr. Bruce Wurdeman, LHM's executive director, and I visited Israel and Palestine. Upon our return he asked me to write a series of Lenten devotions, which center on the Savior and some of the places we saw. This week's devotions fulfill his request. It is my prayer that the Lord will use them to bless you as well as those who will be traveling with us to the Holy Land in the fall of 2012. In Him, Pastor Ken Klaus
In Arabic the town is still known as al-Izzariya, that is, "The house of Lazarus." You can, if you wish, go to the grave which was, according to ancient traditions, the place where Jesus' friend was first buried.
You know the story. You know how Jesus had been told His friend was sick, but arrived to find Lazarus had already been buried for four days. You know how Jesus stood before that tomb and summoned His friend back to life.
What most people forget is that the raising of Lazarus is -- more than anything else Jesus did -- responsible for the religious authorities plotting His murder.
True, Jesus had raised other people from the dead. But those miracles had taken place far away in Galilee, where the unsophisticated souls could easily be fooled. For a number of reasons the raising of Lazarus was different:
1. It was different because Lazarus was well known by many.
2. It was different because Lazarus' death was very real and not some hoax.
3. It was different because Lazarus had been dead for a lengthy period of time.
That is why when Lazarus came out of his tomb, people started to believe on Jesus. I should think so. It's difficult not to believe when something happens, which only God's Son could do.
Lazarus is why the Pharisees and the chief priests came together to put Jesus into a tomb. And, as long as they were at it, they decided to get rid of Lazarus, too. After all, their thinking went, as long as Lazarus is alive, people will still believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Savior.
Scripture doesn't give us the time, the place or the cause of Lazarus' second death. It does, however, tell us that these religious leaders were successful in putting Jesus' into His borrowed grave.
Back then there must have been some serious rejoicing when the Savior was put in His sealed and guarded tomb. They thought they had found a permanent solution to the Redeemer. Over the years there have been others who thought they also had been successful in reburying the Savior and stopping His salvation story from being told.
They thought they had been successful, but they weren't.
They weren't successful because Jesus won't stay dead, even as He won't stay buried.
Lazarus knew, the whole world should know that Jesus told the truth when He said to Lazarus' sister ... "I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die" (John 11:25b-26).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, every age produces people who try to push Jesus back into that tomb. May they be brought to know their error and Your truth, which says whoever lives and believes on Him will never die. May this be and remain our resurrection hope. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries