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©Clay Eldridge

Chapter 11:38-57 (ESV)

Posted on August 25, 2023  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 11:38-57 (ESV) - Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.

Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Question to consider: Why would God give a prophetic word to Caiaphas if he was an enemy of Christ?

As I wrote yesterday, it was not that Martha lacked faith, for she confessed that Jesus was the Son of God. However, Martha did not quite understand what that meant. She believed in the Resurrection at the end of the age, but she didn’t quite understand that life itself was found in Jesus. She did not understand that Jesus let Lazarus succumb to his illness so everyone could see that Jesus was the Resurrection. Jesus didn’t even need to be present at the tomb for Lazarus to rise from the dead. Angels could have rolled away the stone, and Jesus could have raised him up from beyond the Jordan, but He was at the tomb for the sake of Martha, Mary, and the disciples and witnesses.

Personally, I hope that Lazarus was given amnesia about his time at Abraham’s bosom, for it would have been seemingly impossible to return to the sin of this world after experiencing four days in glory. Of course, if he did have his memory, I think he would have been willing to endure the return if it meant sharing the wonderful hope with his sisters and friends. In the parable Jesus told of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31, the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his brothers, saying, “...if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” (Luke 16:30) Abraham’s response at the time was, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

Some of the Jews who witnessed the resurrection first hand believed, but others went and told the chief priests (who were Sadducees) and the Pharisees in Jerusalem what happened, and the Pharisees reacted exactly as Abraham said they would. They were more concerned with losing their good standing with Rome than believing in the one sent by God. Caiaphas may have unknowingly given a prophetic word in saying that it was better for one man to die for the people, but it is a horrible thought that he was willing to kill the one he knew was from God just to keep Jerusalem safe from Rome. God can speak truth through an enemy just as easily as through a righteous man. Think of Balaam or the witch of Endor as examples.

Just as Caiaphas had a wrong idea of the power of Rome, so the Jews had the wrong idea of the power of the Pharisees when they speculated whether Jesus would come to the feast. Jesus would come to the feast in spectacular fashion and would not be arrested until it was the appointed time for Him to be arrested.

We do well to realize this in our own lives. We do not live one day longer or one day shorter than that which God has appointed for us. We do not need to fear the world or its emissaries. I don’t say this with the idea that we put God to the test by foolishly stepping in front of a bus. I say it with the assurance that we go about the vocations set before us and leave all of our fears and anxieties in the hands of a just and merciful God who loves and cares for us.


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for giving us life and caring for our needs. Please give us rest in Your capable hands and help us to live in a way that pleases You and brings glory to Christ. Amen.