Read: John 11:16-45
Thomas was the infernal skeptic. He was certain that he, among others would die if they went up to see Lazarus. They all knew that the Jews were looking to kill Jesus, and perhaps his followers too because they associated with him (John 11:8, John 10:31). In any case, it was dangerous for Jesus to go to Bethany and visit his friend, but Jesus was going so that he might bring glory and so that some may believe in him. When Martha comes to him, Jesus asks her if she believed that Lazarus would rise again. She answers correctly in a sense, in that she knew that in the last days there would be a general resurrection in which all would be raised and judged (John 5:25-32, Revelation 20:11-15). But what she, Mary, and others were doing is what Jesus expected – they would blame for allowing Lazarus to die even though Jesus was going to resurrect him from the dead (John 11:21,32,37). Jesus asserts that he is resurrection and the life and for those that believe in Jesus though they will die will live again. This is the truth of the gospel and Martha affirms its truth. The question though is this: did she really believe in her heart that this was true?
When Jesus came to the tomb, he wept. The Jews perceived this as compassion for Lazarus, but it is probably because so many people did not believe. They had all squarely placed the blame on him for his death, and did not believe that he could give life as he said he could some time ago (John 5:21). Jesus then goes to the tomb asks them to roll away the stone. Naturally they object because of the odor from a rotting body. They nevertheless comply, and Jesus prays to heaven so that everyone could hear him. Jesus did not need to do it because God and Jesus were in constant fellowship because they were one. Then Jesus walks to the tomb and calls to Lazarus to come out. Sure enough, just as Jesus said, Lazarus walked out of the tomb still wrapped in cloth. Jesus commands them to unbind him and let him go. Many of the Jews saw this and believed that Jesus was sent from God.
People are so often riddled with doubt and fear such that they say they believe with their mouths but in their hearts lack faith to the contrary. Thomas, Mary, Martha, and many Jews all doubted, not believing in Jesus or in what he could do to give life. They all knew that Jesus could heal that which was already alive, but they did not believe that he could make that which was dead live again. While the Jews thought Jesus was moved with compassion for Lazarus, Jesus saw the unbelief and where unbelief leads, which is to death – that is in there unbelief, they would end up in a permanent state of death for which there is no hope for resurrection and abundant life. Jesus’ mission was to bring come into the world and die on behalf of many so they may believe and have eternal life. This eternal life is still available to anyone who believes today and at the same time, many doubt and are riddled with disbelief for various reasons. Christians should be open and direct people to the one who has power over death, namely Jesus so they can say, as Paul did, to live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21). Death loses its sting in light of resurrection and there is victory there for all who believe (1 Corinthians 15:53-57)!
Lord, you can do more than make the living livelier – You can make that which is dead live again! Help me to believe and hope in this!