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Raising Lazarus and Human Blindness

February 5, 2013

I remember one aspect about the story of Lazarus being raised to life that stuck out to me a few years ago. I just recently read that story again in my devotions and continue to be impressed with a truth that is declared to us in it. You probably know the story. Lazarus is sick and Jesus decides to wait until he has died before going to Bethany where Lazarus had lived. Once there, He calls Lazarus out from the tomb after he had been dead for four days. Particularly it is what follows this story that is telling for us as we consider the inability of human beings to believe in Christ without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.

In John 11:45, after Jesus had just brought Lazarus back from the dead, we read, “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he (Jesus) did, believed in him,”(ESV) That is to be expected. However, John tells us in the next verse, “but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done,”(ESV). What follows is a discussion between the Jewish leaders in light of the fact that many people were believing in Jesus since he brought a man back to life that had been dead for four days. The conclusion of their discussion is given to us in verse 53 where John says, “So from that day on they made plans to put him (Jesus) to death,”(ESV).

I want you to think about that for a little while. A man dies. He remains dead for four days. Jesus comes to town and calls the man out of the tomb and the man comes hopping out in his grave clothes. The response of some is not faith, nor merely a lack of faith. The response of these men is to decide that they need to kill Jesus or else the whole nation will follow Him. Lazarus was dead! They knew he was dead and that now he was alive. They didn’t deny these facts at all! But even knowing facts that so clearly testified to the divinity of Christ was not enough to convert these men. You see, they did not need more proof. They didn’t need an increased knowledge about the historical facts about Jesus for they were well acquainted with those facts. They needed a change of heart. God had to open their eyes to make them see. God had to turn their hearts from being in rebellion against Him to believing and loving Him. Without this supernatural work of God in their hearts, even knowing that Christ had brought a four-day-dead man back to life was not enough to persuade them to follow Him. In fact in John 12:10-11, John tells us that, “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,”(ESV). They don’t say, “Hey guys, you know this guy Lazarus was dead and now he’s alive. Maybe we should believe in Jesus too.” No, instead they say, “If we don’t kill Jesus and Lazarus people will believe in Jesus, and we don’t want that.”

This should be very instructive to us about our natural blindness as human beings. Even the greatest miracles will not persuade us to follow God if our hearts aren’t changed to love God and hate evil. We can know all of the facts, yet without God granting us repentance (2 Tim 2:25) we will never have saving faith. This should also be instructive to us as we seek to preach the Gospel to a lost world. You see as much as we need to clearly declare the Gospel and be ready to give a defense for our faith to anyone who asks, no one will believe without a supernatural work of God in their hearts.

So may we turn to our God in prayer who alone can grant repentance and who alone can soften a heart that is so hard that not even the raising of a four-day-dead man can persuade it to believe. Praise God for His glorious power!

From → Theology

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