THE BLESSED HOPE
Leslie M. John
In the presence of Martha, Mary, and the Jews, who were weeping and comforting the bereaved family, Jesus commanded to remove the stone, which was laid over the cave, where the dead body of Lazarus was laid to rest for four days then. Martha looked at Lord Jesus and said to Him ‘Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days’.
This was the same Martha, who said to Jesus earlier that she believed in Christ that He was the Son of God, who was to come into the world, as prophesied in the Old Testament. This was the same Martha, who said to Jesus that He was the resurrection and life, and later ran to her home to tell Mary that the Lord was coming to Bethany.
Now, when Jesus commanded that the stone covering the grave of Lazarus be removed she says ‘Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days’. Speaking about man, his length of days on this earth, and his riches, Psalmist says:
‘Behold, thou hast made my days [as] an handbreadth; and mine age [is] as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state [is] altogether vanity. Selah Psalm 39:5
If only God were to punish us according to the measure of our sins, we would not have deserved forgiveness or be able to stand before God. However,
‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ John 3:16
Lord Jesus Christ paid price for our sins, made us righteous and justified. There is no condemnation to those who believe in Him.
Jesus admonishes Martha reminding her that if she believed in Him she will see the glory of God. Then, they took away the stone from the place where Lazarus was laid to rest. Then Jesus lifted up His eyes and prayed to the Father. In His prayer Jesus thanked the Father for hearing His prayer and said that the Father always hears Him. He prayed so in order that those who stood by Him may believe that the Father sent Him.
Jesus, after praying, cried out with a loud voice ‘Lazarus come forth’. Notice Jesus called the dead man by his name; else, perhaps many dead would have come forth. The voice of Jesus was so powerful that the dead Lazarus rose to life and came forth. Another very noticeable fact is that the hand and foot of Lazarus were still bound with grave-clothes, and his face was bound with a napkin.
Comparison with the rising of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, much later, when His hour was come, would show that the napkin that was bound on the face of Jesus was laid aside nicely folded, indicating that He Himself unloosened His bindings, and then folded the napkin that was bound on his head, and placed it at the side where His head was laid.
There was no assistance required for unloosening the wrap around the dead body of Jesus in the tomb. The tomb was covered with a stone, which was sealed and Jews made sure that no one stole His body.
There was no scope of spreading false rumors that He was not raised from the dead, and yet there are many, in some circles, in the present generation, spreading false rumors that He did not die on the cross, nor did He rise from the dead.
Indeed, Jesus died according to Scriptures, and there is evidence secular history as well. He appeared before many men, at different intervals, for forty days after His resurrection and before His ascension into heaven. He showed nail marks on his hands and feet to Thomas. He was the first-fruits.
Lord Jesus Christ commanded that Lazarus be unbound of the grave-clothes and the napkin that he may go. Thus, Lazarus was raised to life only to die again later because he was mortal, but Lord Jesus Christ was the Son of God, in the form of man, and therefore, His body did not see corruption in the grave and He rose in glorified body, which could pass closed doors, eat fish, appear and disappear at His will instantly at desired place.
It is the blessed hope of all believers in Christ that the dead will rise and receive glorified bodies, instantly, and those who are alive will follow them in similar glorified bodies, transformed at the twinkling of an eye, when they are ‘caught up’ at the coming of Lord Jesus again. (Cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and 1 Corinthians 15:52)