The Ripple Effects of Raising Lazarus

John’s Gospel strongly emphasizes the effect that Jesus’ raising of Lazarus had on subsequent events.  In fact, it seems that the raising of Lazarus (in John 11) actually prompted the events at the end of John 11 and the first half of John 12.  We might summarize those subsequent events like this:

(1) Lazarus’ resurrection strengthened the Sanhedrin’s determination to kill Jesus (11:47-57).  Sure, they had wanted to kill Jesus prior to Lazarus being raised (e.g. 10:31, 39), but the people’s faith-response to the raising of Lazarus (11:45) seemed to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for the leaders.  More resolved than ever, the Sanhedrin wanted Jesus dead.

(2) Lazarus’ resurrection led his family to hold a special dinner in Bethany in Jesus’ honor (12:1-11).  During this dinner, Lazarus’ sister Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and dried them with her hair (12:3).

(3) Lazarus’ resurrection seems to have evoked messianic thoughts about Jesus from a “great crowd”–a crowd that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with palm branches and messianic declarations (12:13).  In other words, Jesus’ reception into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday seems to have been occasioned by a crowd that was intrigued and excited about Someone who raised a man from the dead (12:17-18).

In summary, Jesus’ raising of Lazarus did not remain a closed and isolated event in Bethany.  To the contrary, this seventh miracle of Jesus’ earthly ministry caused quite a stir among the people and Jewish leaders.

And if you were one of the witnesses who saw Jesus call a 4-day-old corpse from a tomb, you might be trying to see him, too, and you might even be searching for the nearest palm branch to wave.


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