CONVINCED OR NOT CONVINCED?
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’
“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.’ When He had said this, Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’
“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'” John 11:38-44 NIV.
What a moment! What went through the minds of the two sisters, of the bystanders when Jesus ordered them to remove the stone? ‘No! It can’t be! Is He out of His mind? Is He really going to go in there? What is He going to do?’ As the heavy stone was moved, so the stench of death wafted from the mouth of the cave and they involuntarily stepped backwards.
Jesus was oblivious to the smell of putrefying flesh. He took a step forward and turned His face heavenwards. In a strong, confident voice He addressed His Father, ‘Abba, we’ve already talked and you have heard my request. Now I want all these people around me to know and believe that it is you who sent me.’ When did He speak to the Father? All the time, no doubt.
Then, without hesitation He addressed the corpse — in a loud voice that Lazarus would hear wherever he was — ‘Lazarus, out!’ The bystanders watched and waited, hardly daring to breathe. Was this just a big show? The seconds ticked by, then…out of the darkness a figure emerged, naked but for the strips of cloth around his hands, his feet and his face and probably encasing his body as well. He shuffled towards the entrance, unable to walk because of the linen ties around his feet.
Miraculously, the odour had dissipated. Lazarus was very much alive but still wearing the evidence of his departure encasing his body. Instead of the stink of decay, the fragrant spices of his sisters’ loving preparation for burial still clung to him, released by a fresh breeze which blew away the last vestiges of his untimely death.
Trying in vain to free himself of his encumbrances, Lazarus shuffled out of the tomb. The people stared at him, speechless with shock and disbelief. Only one person was with it enough to speak sense in the situation. I can imagine that Jesus was amused by the bizarre scene — dozens of people gawking like beached fish while a man tied up in burial cloths, hands and feet firmly immobilised, and unable to see where he was going, tried to get free of his bonds and speak to them!
‘For pity’s sake,’ I can imagine Jesus saying, ‘Untie the poor guy and let him go.’ With a jolt, someone would come to and take off the bandages from Lazarus’ feet and hands and untie the cloth around his face so that he could breathe freely again and see.
The Bible abruptly halts the story right there. John was not about telling a story. He was about providing convincing evidence that Jesus was the Son of God, sent by the Father to reveal His Father’s glory. What did the Jews think about that? Was this magnificent sign enough to tip the scales, the climax of the signs John had recorded to reveal the nature of the Father and convince his readers that Jesus was indeed God’s Son, perfectly reflecting Him in everything He did?
We have to read on to the conclusion that unfolded in the next few days to discover the depth of wickedness in the hearts of Jesus’ opponents that drove them, not to believe but to plan their murderous end to the story!
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.