By Shenwei, China
The Lord Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus is recorded in the Bible: “Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said to Him, Lord, by this time he stinks: for he has been dead four days. Jesus said to her, Said I not to you, that, if you would believe, you should see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I knew that You hear Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that You have sent Me. And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:39–44). Every time we read this story, we feel God’s almightiness and wondrousness, and we see how authoritative and powerful His words are: With one word, He brought the dead back to life. God did not do this merely to show us His great power, however, so what intention did He want to convey to us through the miracle of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus? And what inspiration do we gain from it?
The Resurrection of Lazarus Proves That the Lord Jesus Was God Himself
God’s word says, “In that era, it was extremely significant that the Lord Jesus did something like this. Because God had become flesh, people could only see His physical appearance, His practical side, and His insignificant aspect. Even if some people saw and understood something of His character or some special abilities that He appeared to possess, no one knew where the Lord Jesus came from, who He truly was in His essence, and what other things He was actually capable of doing. All of this was unknown to mankind. So many people wanted to find proof to answer these questions about the Lord Jesus, and to know the truth. Could God do something to prove His own identity? For God, this was a breeze—it was a piece of cake. He could do something anywhere, anytime to prove His identity and essence, but God had His way of doing things—with a plan, and in steps. He did not do things indiscriminately, but rather looked for the right time and the right opportunity to do something which He would allow man to see, something that truly was imbued with meaning. In this way, He proved His authority and identity. So then, could the resurrection of Lazarus prove the Lord Jesus’ identity? Let us look at the following passage of scripture: ‘And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth….’ When the Lord Jesus did this, He said just one thing: ‘Lazarus, come forth.’Lazarus then came out from his tomb—this was accomplished because of just a few words uttered by the Lord. … It is correct to say that this miracle was the most normal, tiny demonstration of the Creator’s authority. This is the authority and power of God. God has the authority to have a person die, to have his spirit leave his body and return to Hades, or wherever else it should go. The timing of a person’s death, and the place they will go after death—these are determined by God. He can make these decisions anytime and anywhere, unconstrained by humans, events, objects, space, or geography. If He wants to do it, He can do it, because all things and living beings are under His rule, and all things proliferate, exist, and perish by His word and His authority. He can resurrect a dead man, and this too is something He can do anytime, anywhere. This is the authority that only the Creator possesses” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”). From God’s words, we can see that, when the Lord Jesus appeared and worked in the flesh as the Son of man, the Jews of those days saw that the Lord Jesus looked just like an ordinary man. They didn’t know who He was, only that He was the son of a carpenter, that He had parents, brothers and sisters, and that He was an ordinary man. But through listening to Him preach, many came to feel that the Lord Jesus’ words carried authority and power and that they were words no human being could utter. The sermons He preached were able to resolve people’s practical difficulties and they showed people the path of practice, such as the teachings that people must love God with all their hearts, minds and strength, that they must love their neighbors as themselves, forgive others seventy times seven times, love their enemies, and so on. They had never heard anything like this before. Therefore, many became filled with curiosity and conjecture about exactly who the Lord Jesus really was. No one knew His identity or essence, and so some disciples called Him “teacher,” and some said that He was the “greatest of the prophets.” When the Lord Jesus performed the miracle of bringing Lazarus back to life, many then truly witnessed the power and authority of God, and they became certain from the bottom of their hearts that the Lord Jesus was the Messiah they had longed for, and that the Lord Jesus was Christ, as is recorded in the Bible: “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him” (John 11:45). Furthermore, we can see from the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus that God alone controls the keys to the Hades. No evil spirit, not Satan, nor any lackey in Hades controls when we human beings are born and when we die—this rests with God alone, and our fates are all administered within His hands. Although on the outside, the Lord Jesus appeared ordinary and normal and He possessed normal humanity, He was possessed of total divinity and He was the incarnation of the Spirit of God. The Lord Jesus expressed many truths, He taught people to confess and repent, and He performed some miracles. He fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, He made the lame walk and the blind see and, even more than that, He brought the dead back to life. All this was a manifestation of the Lord Jesus’ unique authority and power, and it was a manifestation of the Lord Jesus’ identity and status as the Lord of creation. Through the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, the Lord Jesus enabled the people of that time to know that He was Christ and that He was the incarnate God Himself.
Knowing God’s Disposition Through the Resurrection of Lazarus
God’s word says, “God does not do anything that is without meaning. The resurrection of Lazarus as a singular event is adequate to demonstrate God’s authority and to prove the identity of the Lord Jesus. This is why the Lord Jesus did not repeat this type of miracle. God does things according to His own principles. In human language, it could be said that God occupies His mind only with serious matters. That is, when God does things, He does not stray from the purpose of His work. He knows what work He wants to carry out in this stage, what He wants to accomplish, and He will work strictly according to His plan. If a corrupt person had that kind of ability, he would just be thinking of ways to reveal his ability so that others would know how formidable he was, so they would bow down to him, so he could control them and devour them. This is the evil that comes from Satan—this is called corruption. God does not have such a disposition, and He does not have such an essence. His purpose in doing things is not to show Himself off, but to provide mankind with more revelation and guidance, and this is why people see very few examples in the Bible of this type of occurrence. This is not to say that the Lord Jesus’ powers were limited, or that He was incapable of such things. It is simply that God did not want to do it, because the Lord Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus had very practical significance, and also because the primary work of God becoming flesh was not to perform miracles, was not to bring people back from the dead, but was the work of redemption for mankind. So, much of the work that the Lord Jesus completed was teaching people, providing for them, and helping them, and events such as resurrecting Lazarus were merely a small portion of the ministry that the Lord Jesus carried out” (“God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III”).
Everything God does has meaning, and it is done to guide us toward understanding the truth and understanding God’s will, so that God’s work can achieve even better results. The miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, for example, enables us to see that the Lord Jesus was possessed of a unique authority and power, that He controlled the keys to the Hades, ruled the life and death of man and was the Sovereign of all things. But the actions of God are principled, they have a plan and they are done in stages. After He had performed this miracle, God continued His work to redeem mankind in accordance with His management plan. From this, we can see that God’s disposition and essence are so incredibly humble and loveable. There is not one iota of arrogance, conceit or showmanship about God. Instead, He is constantly performing His work to save mankind in obscurity. We human beings, however, are not like this. We show off any little talent we have, and we flaunt ourselves before others in order to prove that we are better than other people, and thereby obtain their high esteem and approval. For example, when we have the gift to heal the sick and cast out demons, although we may say we are working for the Lord, we just show ourselves off at the first opportunity so that other people can see that we are not like everyone else, and thus we make them admire us and look up to us, and we take God’s place in their hearts without them being aware of it. When we study some profession or knowledge and we reap some results in the church, we become so pleased with ourselves, we become arrogant and conceited, and we unconsciously flaunt ourselves before brothers and sisters. We don’t think about how we should use our hearts to pay a price or about fulfilling the ministry work the Lord has entrusted to us in order to satisfy the Lord. These are just two examples. Our essence as corrupt mankind is arrogant and conceited, and we show ourselves off at the first opportunity whenever we have a little talent. In fact, our gifts and our caliber are given to us by God, and our ability to perform a duty, work and achieve some results is all down to the guidance of the work of the Holy Spirit. Mankind has nothing to boast about, and yet we usurp God’s glory—we really are without reason!
Through the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, God enables us to know that the Lord Jesus was God incarnate, that He was God Himself, and He enables us to have true faith in the Lord and to follow the Lord Jesus in earnest. At the same time, we come to know God’s humble and hidden disposition, and we become aware that us having any ability or gift or achieving results from our work is all down to the work of the Holy Spirit. We should emulate Christ and, no matter what we do, do it in obscurity, accept God’s scrutiny, and apply all our efforts only before God and not show ourselves off before other people, for only by doing this will we earn God’s blessing and acceptance.