In this passage, Jesus is many things—a fellow mourner, a miracle worker, a sacrificial life-giver. Moreover, raising Lazarus is the pivot point of Jesus’ ministry. This miracle, the last of the seven signs in John’s gospel, is the point of no return. It hardens the religious leaders’ resolve to kill him. The raising of Lazarus also means everyone else in the world must also pivot from here on out—everyone must either radically follow Jesus or completely reject Him.
Story of a Radical Follower
Let me share how this happened for my friend Chris.
Chris is a Jewish man, a husband and father, and a prominent business leader. One morning over coffee, he told me he wanted to look into Christianity. Chris had never read the New Testament. I suggested he read the Gospel of John in one sitting. When we next met, I asked him what one thing stood out the most. “Chapter 11,” he said decisively.
“The whole book pivots right here. Jesus raises this guy from the dead, and no one can deny it—Lazarus is walking around, meeting people, and because of him a lot of people believe.”
He then talked about how the religious and political leaders refused to believe, because they knew it would cost them their place and their nation, and for them, that was unthinkable. So to protect their own standing, they decide to kill Jesus, and later on they decide to kill Lazarus too. Chris looked me in the eye and said, “These guys had the truth staring them in the face, but instead of believing it, they go for self-preservation. At any cost.”
He continued, “I’ve seen the dark side of human nature, both in life and in business – how people will do what they know to be wrong because it profits them personally. But I can’t do it. I won’t live a lie. Jesus looks like the truth to me, and I’m all in.”
That you may believe
John says that the miracle is recorded for a singular purpose, “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” Over the centuries, thousands have received new life by believing in Jesus. Chris is one of them. His life pivoted that morning, and he has been faithful in God’s Kingdom ever since. May all who read this gospel similarly have clear sight, not willful blindness, and the courage to choose accordingly.
Written by Jim Pocock
Artwork by Meredith Free, Fellow Mourner