In John chapter 11 we have the story of the Resurrection of Lazarus.
This is the man that Jesus loved so much and he died. His sisters, Martha and Mary, sent a message to Jesus to stop His crusades and come over and do the miracle of healing before it was too late.
'Therefore, his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick' (John 11:3).
To His disciples, Jesus confirmed the news, 'Lazarus is dead' (John 11:14). On arrival, Jesus said to Martha, 'Thy brother shall rise again' (John 11:23).
I believe that the raising of the dead is the ultimate miracle. The Gospel is hinged on the Resurrection. Paul says to Timothy,
'Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel' (2 Tim 2:8).
Paul also teaches that our Saviour Jesus Christ has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). This is the Resurrection message.
Judaic doctrine on the Resurrection was based solely on a futuristic hope of end-time prophecy. Modern Christianity also espouses a similar theology that says 'Resurrection later, not now'. But Jesus proclaimed,
'I am the Resurrection and the life. He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet shall he live and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.'
And of course, to Martha he posed the question 'Believe thou me?'.
The question evidently, always is whether or not we believe. Faith anchored in the Resurrection is faith for miracles.
Jesus made a classic statement on the subject of miracles. In speaking to Martha, he deliberately put the matter of the Resurrection in the context of present experience. He shifted the focus of the hope from a futuristic vision to immediate and present anticipation based on faith in the person that is Himself, the very Resurrection and the Life.
For any miracle we need, for any contingency, we can count on Jesus. In Him is Resurrection power. Whether early or late. He can help us if we will call on His name. It is the Resurrection power in Him that produces miracles.
According to Romans 10:6-10,
'The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise SAY NOT in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is to bring Christ down from above) or who shall descend into the deep? (that is to bring up Christ again from the dead)..'
Christ has already been here.
Don't say, Oh Jesus, do something for me, from up there. He is waiting for you to do something - to exercise your faith to receive what has already been given.
We must familiarise ourselves with what the Bible calls 'The righteousness which is of faith' especially it's 'speaking element'. But what saith it?
'THE WORD IS NIGH THEE EVEN IN THY MOUTH, AND IN THY HEART, THAT IS THE WORD OF FAITH..'.
The living element of faith is generated in the heart but the manifestation of it in the visible realm of human situation breaks forth by the inspired utterance of the mouth.
'If thou shall confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in thine heart THAT GOD HATH RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, thou shall be saved'.
What a revelation, this Resurrection word! This is the very basis of the Gospel. That GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD. Not simply that He rose again, but in the active sense, that God demonstrated power by the Holy Ghost to raise Jesus from the dead. To believe this means to have faith resting in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5). If we can believe this, we will see miracles.
In our relationship with God, we must base our faith on the Resurrection. If God raises the dead, anything is possible. If you can believe the Resurrection, you can believe for anything. God wants His church to believe from this high-ground level. The level that beats death.
Martha and Mary could believe for miracles. Unlike many church people today, they had experienced a Christianity that was overwhelmingly biased towards miracles, deliverance, and healing on a large scale. Therefore, they had no doubt that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died (John 11:21 and 32). However, Jesus saw a fundamental flaw in their faith. It was a theological position that He deemed untenable, even though it was based on a sound prophetic premise. Faith is an active word that operates in the now. Theological argument must not violate this principle.
The devil doesn't want to see the power of the Resurrection. He doesn't want to see the Church raising the dead because if we begin raising the dead, we won't have trouble with cancer. Our lives need to start from the Resurrection level and then come down to the lower scale.
In 2 Corinthians 1:9-10, Paul, the Apostle, said
'But we had the sentence of death In ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves BUT IN GOD WHICH RAISETH THE DEAD; who delivered us from so great a death and doth deliver; in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us'.
He understood that God's ability goes as far as raising the dead, anything in the middle, whatever the problem, is solvable. No wonder Paul says in Philippians 3:10-11,
'That I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…if by any means I might attain unto the Resurrection of the dead'.
What is he saying? He determines to go this path on which the ability of God to raise the dead operates.
The Resurrection of Lazarus hastened events and almost immediately became a death-warrant, sending Jesus to the Cross. The Pharisees and the Chief Priests got mad! You know why? Because God opened people's eyes to the principle and power of the Resurrection. Those who witnessed what Jesus did for Lazarus believed on him BUT SOME OF THEM WENT THEIR WAYS TO THE PHARISEES AND TOLD THE THINGS JESUS HAD DONE.
'Then gathered the Chief Priests and the Pharisees a council and said 'what do we? FOR THIS MAN DOETH MANY MIRACLES' (John 11:45-48).
Here, we see that some sneaked out to tell on Him. They went to report him to the police, so to speak. Jewish authorities realised that now that Jesus has carried His miracle ministry to this dimension - raising the dead - it is high time He was stopped. This is the climax of miracles. The scripture says
'FROM THAT DAY FORTH they took counsel together to put him to death. JESUS THEREFORE WALKED NO MORE OPENLY among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim and there continued with his disciples (John 11:53-54).
The time of preaching was over. The time of healing the multitudes had come to an end!
The miracle of Lazarus's Resurrection was the finale of the miracles of Jesus. The subsequent death and Resurrection of Jesus Himself was to be the Grand Finale that would conquer death itself.
From the city of Ephraim, Jesus moved back to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. There they made Him a supper and Martha as usual served. This was a special dinner in Jesus' honour.
On this occasion, Mary took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair: AND THE HOUSE WAS FILLED WITH THE ODOUR OF THE OINTMENT. Judas Iscariot, soon to betray him, protested against the good act of Mary with this sweet smelling ointment. Jesus replied 'Let her alone: AGAINST THE DAY OF MY BURYING hath she kept this'.
I am not sure if Mary fully comprehended the prophetic aspect of what she did. But it spoke of the imminent death of Jesus. We are certain this was Mary the sister of Lazarus (John 11:1-2). Mary, by her prophetic act, confirmed the Resurrection element of the Gospel in so much that Jesus declared,
'that wherever the Gospel will be preached in the whole world, there shall also this that this woman has done be told for a memorial for her' (Matthew 26:13).
In John 11:9-11, multitudes kept flocking to Bethany to see, not Jesus, but specifically Lazarus whom Jesus had raised from the dead. The miracle and the message of the Resurrection was reaching many people. The Gospel was in its dynamic and ultimate element.
Then Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey! 'Hosanna, Hosanna' they cried. Children shouted. 'Fear Not, daughter of Zion: Behold thy King cometh..' (John 12:15). This was the time of the Kingdom of God.
The sole reason multitudes gathered to welcome Jesus; the reason they took palm branches and went to meet Him crying 'Hosanna; Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord' was none other but that He had raised the dead. The word had gone all over Jerusalem that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. In John 12:17-18, it is written that,
'the people therefore that was with Him when he called Lazarus out of his grave and raised him from the dead BARE RECORD. FOR THIS CAUSE THE PEOPLE ALSO MET HIM FOR THAT THEY HEARD THAT HE HAD DONE THIS MIRACLE'.
Indeed, the Pharisees said, 'The World is gone after him' (John 12:19).
The Pharisees were not pleased when Jesus forgave sins, healed the sick and did notable miracles for the blind, the lame and the crippled. But they had to stop Him once He began to teach the awesome principle of the Resurrection. They did not want Him known for who He really was: The Resurrection and the Life.
People had never known that the power of God would break the power of death. Now they knew that Jesus not only heals but raises the dead. Brother, that has solved every problem. If He can raise the dead, He can do anything!
The principle that God raises the dead is the very launching ground for miracles. Starting from the miracle of wine at Cana we see a build up in the demonstration of the power of God to the very height of miracles at Lazarus's grave. Then comes the grand finale of cosmic proportions: The Resurrection of Jesus!