Dead or alive ∙
Lazarus, come forth – John 11:43
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies,
26 and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
An Iowa court has ruled against an inmate who was dead and alive. While in prison, he had developed kidney stones. He then suffered septic poisoning and died. However, he was resuscitated and lived again.
Benjamin Schreiber, 66, was serving a life sentence for murder. He reasoned that although his death, was sort of short-lived, he was truly dead. Schreiber filed a novel legal appeal. He thought he might have found a creative loophole in the law. He claimed that the moment he died; he fulfilled his life sentence. He filed a claim to be released.
The court was not persuaded. Being in prison is obviously not the same thing as playing monopoly. Dying for a brief amount of time does not provide you with a get-out-of-jail-free card. Judge Amanda Potterfield wrote, “Schreiber is either still alive, in which case he must remain in prison, or he is actually dead, in which case this appeal is moot.” Judge Potterfield found Schreiber’s argument was “unpersuasive and without merit.” The fact that Schreiber was able to file a legal motion petitioning for his release, the judge added, “in itself confirms the petitioner’s current status as living.”
Due to the advances in modern medicine, momentary or short-term death can be reversed. Resuscitation has become quite commonplace. Without blood circulation and sufficient oxygen, body organs simply shut down. Typically irreversible damage occurs to vital organs and in particular, the brain, within hours. Normally resuscitation is possible for just a few minutes after death. In some special cases, it can be in tens of minutes. Particularly if the body was in a very cold setting like icy water.
Modern-day medical resuscitation is not the same as biblical resurrection. Resurrection assumes permanent, not temporary, death and bodily decay.
The story of Lazarus is no resuscitation. It is a miraculous resurrection.
REFLECT & PRAY
Death and bodily decay are no problem for the Creator of life! He has the power to transform mortal bodies into glorious bodies such as His own.
Father thank You, that You have the power of life and resurrection. “What is impossible for people is possible with God” (Luke 18:27).
Lazarus and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were beloved friends of the Lord Jesus Christ. Lazarus becomes ill. Mary and Martha send for the Lord Jesus Christ, thinking He would come quickly and heal him. But instead of doing so, He lingers. He waits for two days. He made sure that Lazarus was dead. Ancient Israel had no rapid transportation. Rather mostly they just walked from place to place. By the time the Lord Jesus Christ arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been in the grave for four days.
Why four days? Even if it was the 21st century, resuscitation would not have been possible. Irreversible damage would have already occurred. But this story was never about healing or resuscitation. It was part of the Father’s plan to demonstrate something far greater about His Son and Himself, that yet was unknown. He was setting the stage.
Martha was no doubt sullen and disappointed. Perhaps she might have been more than a tad bitter. There was no doubt in her mind that the Lord Jesus Christ was a miracle worker and healer.
Martha held in check any emotional outbursts. There was no explosive eruption. However, she was more than a tad confrontive with the Lord Jesus Christ. Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died (John 11:21). Of course the 500 lb. Gorilla in the room was, what was not said, “Why didn’t You come? We were depending upon You.”
In response, the Lord Jesus Christ was not harsh but exceedingly kind, gentle, and meek. He takes the conversation to a whole new level. He states categorically that He is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). On the surface level, the Lord Jesus Christ is claiming to have the power to raise anyone who dies from the dead whenever He wants.
But there’s more. Lord Jesus Christ is greater than death! He does not merely have life; He has life-giving power. At the moment of resurrection, it is He who gives life to the dead. Resurrection is not merely some far-off prophesied last-day event. He has the power to give life and to resurrect in the now.
His words are utterly staggering and unbelievable.
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.”
26 “Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
On the surface, these two sentences seem paradoxical and confusing. But the confusion is removed when you realize that He is referring to two distinct groups. The first group is children of the King who die. Every believer who dies will be resurrected by Him in the future. A small number of the children of the King will be alive when the Lord Jesus Christ returns. They live in faith and will never die. They happen to be in the right place at the right time when He returns. It is the second group that believes in this life but never die. When He returns, their physical life and bodies are transformed to resurrection bodies.
Lazarus is part of the first group. He died, was resurrected, and later died again Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ at His second coming, are members of the second group. They never die physically but are transformed from mortal to immortal.
Jesus had made it clear earlier that the death of Lazarus and what not about sadness and death. The end goal was to honor and exalt the Father God. Hundreds, if not thousands of mourners had gathered. They were all witnesses to what happened next.
The Lord Jesus Christ backs up His incredible claim using only three words, “Lazarus, come forth.” His few words were simple and straightforward. But they were backed by the unlimited power and authority of the Father, living God.
Lord Jesus Christ Who is the resurrection and the life simply speaks to the dead body of Lazarus, and his deceased bodily remains somehow “hear and obey.” The dead and decomposing corpse of Lazarus was restored, and he was instantaneously resurrected. Lazarus walked out of the tomb alive.
Hundreds of folks were totally astonished and overwhelmed, they were blown out of their socks. Multitudes of them believed. This was the climax of a brilliant campaign to honor the Father. It marked the great final public miracle of the Lord Jesus Christ before His death and resurrection.
“When you are sick, you want a doctor and not a medical book or a formula. When you are being sued, you want a lawyer and not a law book. Likewise, when you face your last enemy, death, you want the Saviour and not a doctrine written in a book. In Jesus Christ, every doctrine is made personal. When you belong to Him, you have all that you ever will need in life, death, time, or eternity!” (Wiersbe)
© Dr. H 2022