tale2tell original Bible Stories series – New Testament

Based on John chapter 11

Lazarus

DISCIPLE ANDREW ‘When the messenger arrived he had a serious look on his face and we could tell his message was urgent. Going straight to Jesus he said, ‘This message is from Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, who live in Bethany which is in Judea. They say, ‘Lord, the one you love is very sick.’’

‘We’d experienced a lot of trouble from the religious leaders in the area of Judea, even so, we expected Jesus to tell us to pack up and go to there. Instead, He told us, ‘Lazarus’s sickness won’t end in death. It has happened for the glory of God. And I, the Son of God will receive glory from this.’’

‘Even though we knew how much Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus, we didn’t go to them straight away, instead we stayed where we were for another two days! We were all on edge, having had such a call for help and not having done anything. But when, after two days, Jesus told us that we were now going to Judea, we started to feel nervous! ‘Teacher,’ we said. ‘Are you sure about this? Only a few days ago the Jewish leaders in Judea were trying to kill you and now you want to go back again?’

‘’Our dear friend Lazarus has fallen asleep,’ Jesus told us, ‘and now it’s time for me to go and wake him up.’’

‘‘But Lord,’ we said. ‘If he’s having a good sleep then surely he’s getting better?’

‘Then Jesus spoke to us plainly. ‘Lazarus is dead. And I’m pleased I wasn’t there for your sakes, because this is going to give you another opportunity to believe in me. Come on, let’s go.’’

‘Even if we’d left as soon as the messenger had come we’d never have made it in time to help Lazarus. When we arrived, we discovered that he’d been dead and in his grave for four days already! There were lots of people there from Jerusalem, which was only a couple of miles away, who’d come to comfort Martha and Mary in their loss. We stayed a little outside Bethany, but when Martha heard that Jesus had arrived she came out to meet Him.’

‘’Lord,’ Martha cried when she saw Jesus. ‘If only you’d been here, then my brother wouldn’t have died! But even now I know that God will give you anything you ask of Him.’’

‘Jesus looked at her and said, ‘Your brother will rise again.’’

‘’Yes, I know he’ll rise when everyone does on the day of resurrection,’ Martha replied.’’

‘’I am the resurrection and the life,’ Jesus told Martha. ‘Everyone who believes in me, even though like all people they will die, yet also they will live again. Because, if they believe in me they are given eternal life and so will never perish. Do you believe this Martha?’ He asked.’

‘’Yes Lord,’ she told Him. ‘I’ve always believed that you’re the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who’s come into the world from God.’ After she’d said this she went back to Mary and calling her aside she said, ‘The Teacher’s here and He wants to see you.’ So, as quickly as she could, Mary came to where we were staying.’

‘In fact, Mary left to come and see Jesus so fast that all the mourners in the house thought she must be rushing off to the grave to weep for Lazarus there, so they followed her. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at His feet saying, ‘Lord, if only you’d been here, then my brother wouldn’t have died.’’

‘When Jesus saw Mary’s weeping and the wailing of the other people who’d followed her, and saw how painful and evil death was – He was deeply moved in His soul – and outraged in His spirit at death itself. ‘Where have you put him?’ He asked.’

‘‘Lord, come and see,’ they told Him. And Jesus wept. (P) Some of the people standing there saw Him and said, ‘Look how much He loved Lazarus,’ while others shook their heads and said, ‘This is the same man who restores sight to the blind. So why couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?’’

‘Once again Jesus was overcome with a deep outrage in His spirit at the evilness of death. Then coming to the grave, which was a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance, Jesus ordered, ‘Roll that stone aside.’’

‘‘But Lord,’ Martha said. ‘It’s been four days since we put him in there! By now there’s going to be a terrible stink from the rotting body!’’

‘‘Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?’ Jesus said, turning to Martha. After He’d said this, a small group of us rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed. ‘Father, thank you that you hear me. I know you always hear me, but I have said this for the benefit of these people standing here that they may believe that you sent me.’ Then in a loud voice He said, ‘Lazarus, come out!’’ (PAUSE)

‘To be honest with you I can’t really remember how he came out of the tomb because he was all wrapped in grave clothes up with his hands and feet bound and another cloth around his head. But, as I watched the impossible happening before my eyes, I realised Jesus was speaking again, calling out to us, His disciples. ‘Untie him,’ He said, ‘take off those grave clothes and set him free.’ And so we did, and there underneath it all was the same Lazarus we’d always known!’ (P)

‘The strange thing was, it was this mighty miracle that finally turned the chief Priests and the Pharisees against Jesus. Because, while some of the people with us believed in Jesus when they saw Lazarus raised back to life after four whole days in the grave, others ran off to tell the Pharisees what Jesus had done.’

‘At once a high council meeting was called. And the topic of conversation? Jesus!’

‘’What are we going to do?’ one of them asked. ‘This man Jesus certainly performs many miraculous signs. But if we leave Him to it, then what? The whole nation’ll end up following Him and then the Romans will come to put the whole thing down and at the same time take away our power – and destroy the temple!’’

‘’It was Caiaphas the high priest who spoke next. ‘You know nothing!’ he said. ‘Don’t you realise that it’s better for one man to die for the people than for the whole nation to perish?’ (P) Those words were given to Caiaphas from God – it was a prediction that Jesus’ death wouldn’t just be for Israel, but for the gathering together of all the children of God scattered around the world.’

‘That was the moment when the leaders began to plot Jesus’ death. And as a result, Jesus stopped His public ministry and left Jerusalem to go and stay in the village of Ephraim with us, His disciples – until the right time to show Himself came.’

 

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