Tag Archives: Miracles

Jesus’ Seven Signs in John (7)

john11_1_raising_lazarus_bloch

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? (John 11:40)

The events surrounding this seventh sign were previously covered in the discussion of Jesus’ fifth I AM statement:[1] “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” (John 11:25-26, emphasis mine).

Jesus “stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) as He made a stopover in Jericho along the way. The cross loomed ominous – less than two weeks away – when He received word from Bethany, “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (John 11:3). It was Lazarus. The content of the message did not convey the gravity of the matter. “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4, emphasis mine).

However, it was “unto death,” and the Lord knew it. “When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was” (John 11:6, emphasis). After the two-day delay, Jesus “saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again … Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” (John 11:7, 11). Sleep, for someone who is sick, helps the healing process. The disciples understood this. They also understood that Jesus’ life was in peril in Jerusalem. “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? … Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well” (John 11:8, 12, emphasis mine). Jesus completely knew and understood the situation although the euphemism escaped the disciples’ conscious thought, so to clarify, “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead” (John 11:14, emphasis mine).

The small village of Bethany was about a day’s walk from Jericho. Lazarus probably died shortly after the messengers departed to Jericho. The travel took a day. Jesus delayed two days before leaving for Bethany and He took another day to arrive – four days total.

When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Martha met Him with the “news” that Lazarus had died (John 11:20). Mary followed Martha. “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:32). Both Martha and Mary believed that Jesus could heal the sick. They had probably witnessed many of His healing miracles, and perhaps they heard about or witnessed Jesus restoring life to the dead.[2] Those other resurrections Jesus performed involved someone who was dead just a matter of hours. However, it had been FOUR DAYS! They also believed that Jesus could raise the dead “at the resurrection” (John 11:24), but that was future. “Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already” (John 11:17, emphasis mine). FOUR DAYS! – “There is a tradition in Judaism (that still exists today), that the soul after death does not immediately depart the deceased, but hovers over the body for a period of three days, during which time resurrection is possible.”[3]

In the minds of Martha and Mary, Lazarus was too far gone for a resurrection now. They were resigned to wait until the resurrection at the end of time.

Jesus asked to see the grave (John 11:34), and to their shock, Jesus asked for the stone to be rolled away from the opening. “Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39, emphasis mine). What was He doing? Did Jesus want a private viewing? By now, the process of decomposition would have caused the body to reek. Surely, Jesus could not bring life to a decaying body! “Jesus saith unto [Martha], Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? … And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:40, 43). The dead man responded, and though bound in grave clothes, walked out of the cave.

Jesus demonstrated His power over death. He said, “I AM the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25, emphasis mine), and He proved it by giving life to one for whom consensus offered no hope. FOUR DAYS dead and Jesus brought Lazarus back to the land of the living. From the beginning, Jesus knew what He would do. “When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (John 11:4, emphasis mine). Then before the skeptical crowd that included that included some of His harshest opponents (John 11:45-53) Jesus prayed, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me” (John 11:41-42, emphasis mine).

Luke relays an account given by Jesus of a rich man that died and went to hell and a beggar by the name of Lazarus (different person) who also died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man in hell could see Lazarus enjoying paradise with Abraham. After failing get relief for himself, he requested that Lazarus be sent back to the world of the living and evangelize his brothers, for he thought, “if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent” (Luke 16:30). The brothers had the Law and the Prophets, i.e., the Bible. In other words, they had all they needed to avoid the same fate. Abraham’s response settled the matter. “And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31, emphasis mine).  The truth of this assertion could not be better illustrated than in the reaction of the religious leaders that witnessed “one that rose from the dead.” Rather than believe in Jesus, who raised the dead, they sought to kill Him. “Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death” (John 11:53). Not only that, but now Lazarus was a liability. “But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus” (John 12:10-11, emphasis mine).

Truth is offensive. “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6, emphasis mine). Many would rather destroy the Truth than submit to Him, but the Truth will not die. “And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves” (John 11:55). In a few days, Jesus would be put to death, but after three days, He would do an even greater miracle than raising Lazarus. Jesus Himself would conquer death and rise from the grave. Yet, many are not “persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” – Jesus Himself.

Do you believe? You have the Bible. You have the voices of thousands of “prophets” declaring the Word of the Lord. Jesus is not in the grave. What more do you need? This life you have been given is the only opportunity you will ever have to make that choice. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. “While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Hebrews 3:15). After this life, there are no more chances. Jesus rose from the dead and lives forever to give us eternal life. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31), and you will not end up like the rich man being tortured in the flames (Luke 16:24) with no escape.

 Notes:


[1]  See: https://erniecarrasco.com/2016/10/02/jesus-seven-i-am-statements-in-john-5/

[2]  See Matthew 9:18-26; Mark 5:21-43; Luke 8:40-56; Luke 7:11-16.

[3]  Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel, (Jewish Studies for Christians, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2015), 184.

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Eyes That See Not

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Son of man, thou dwellest in the midst of a rebellious house, which have eyes to see, and see not; they have ears to hear, and hear not: for they are a rebellious house.  (Ezekiel 12:2)

In this day of technological marvels it is increasingly more difficult to believe in miracles. It seems that every extraordinary accomplishment or phenomenon can be explained by some naturalistic means. Today we possess the ability to send men to the moon and return them safely. We send probes deep into space to explore distant planets in our solar system. Our space telescopes look deep into the far reaches of our universe. Medical science, while it has yet to find the cure for cancer, has made remarkable progress in healing patients having the dread disease. Scientists in the study of eugenics continue to make inroads into the modification of human DNA with the hopes of creating super humans with capabilities for greater physical endurance, greater mental agility and intellectual acuity, better vision with the ability to see into the infrared light spectrum, and all of this while consuming less food.[1],[2] This, of course, is for the betterment of mankind, and is seen as our next step in human evolution.

No wonder, then, that scoffers deny the miracles recorded in the Bible. However, this is nothing new. Skepticism in the Word of God has existed since the Garden of Eden: “Yea, hath God said …” (Genesis 3:1). During the Age of Enlightenment (a misnomer in my opinion) “reason” supplanted “faith” so that every effect resulted from a natural cause. Reason, then, eliminated miracles because from this perspective, everything has a natural explanation. Enlightened theologians attempted to explain the miracles of the Bible though natural means. Some who were less capable for the task simply rejected the miracles altogether and relegated them to the category of myth. Thomas Jefferson, for example, redacted the New Testament by excluding every record of Jesus’ miracles from the Gospels.[3]

Rejection of the Bible continues today in greater force due to our technological advancements. So, what is a miracle, anyway? By definition, a miracle is “an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause[4] (emphasis mine). By definition, a miracle has no natural explanation and can only be attributed to the supernatural. Arguably, the greatest miracle of all is the universe itself, and all that it contains – from the largest star to the tiniest subatomic particle. Even though there is great disagreement among atheistic scientists about the origin of the universe, they all tenaciously seek a natural explanation for the existence of it all. The Big Bang theory is in such crisis that some have proposed an “eternal” universe disregarding the Second Law of Thermodynamics (entropy – everything is dying). Yet the Bible offers the simplest explanation of all: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, emphasis mine) – beginning (time), heaven (space), earth (matter/energy) – the universe. The existence of the universe is a miracle – an immense effect brought about by a “supernatural” cause – God.

If one rejects this greatest of all miracles, which has no natural explanation despite all the theories man can contrive, then no other miracles recorded in Scripture are credible. For this reason, liberal theologians contend that the Global Flood (Genesis 6-9) was just local in spite of the unreasonableness of the command to build an Ark for the event. The confusion of tongues at the Tower of Babel mythically explains the diversity of languages. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah resulted from an asteroid impact or a long-since vanished volcano. The Red Sea crossing came about by a hot easterly wind that died up the very shallow Reed Sea – a marsh. The quail with which God fed the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 16:13) were migrating and coincidently tired out exactly where Israel was camped so that about a million Israelites ate until full. Downplaying such miracles takes little effort, but they are equally defensible by employing some simple logic. What about the sun stopping (Joshua 10:11-13), or regressing ten degrees (2 Kings 20:11)? Can an ax head really float (2 Kings 6:5-6)? These things defy the physical laws as we know them, and since the skeptic fails in concocting natural explanations for such occurrences, these miracles are attributed to either fantasy or myth. Either way, the skeptic rejects all miracles. For the skeptic, miracles either have a natural explanation, or they will have a natural explanation when “science” learns more, or they are simply fantasy.

These are they who “have eyes to see, and see not” (our starting verse); but for those who “have eyes to see,” miracles are real, and they happen every day.  The creation of a new life in the womb occurs thousands of times daily. Those who “see not” attribute that to natural biological reproduction. But out of millions of sperm cells deposited during sexual intercourse, how does one particular sperm cell just happen to fertilize one particular ovum to create one very unique individual? Who writes the DNA code for the 46 chromosomes (23 from each parent) that make up the one-of-a-kind person we are individually? Even identical twins are not exactly identical. The naturalist has no explanation for this and attributes it to random chance. God says, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee …” (Jeremiah 1:5). Those who have “eyes to see” respond, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them” (Psalm 139:14-16). They who “have eyes to see, and see not” suffer from a spiritual blindness that prevents them from seeing the supernatural work of God – the miracles that take place every day.

They who have “eyes to see,” believe the words of Jesus when He said, “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). When God answers their prayer, they who have “eyes to see” recognize the Source and give credit to Whom credit is due.

Recently my brother-in-law was involved in a farming accident where he was run over by a huge farm tractor. There are so many ways that he could have died that day. He tells me that when the tractor ran over him he was completely at peace knowing that he would soon see Jesus. He says, “I kept looking around expecting to see heaven, but all I could see was corn stalks.” The tractor he had been driving was pulling a trailer full of silage, and it was coming toward him to get him a second time. The tractor had crushed his pelvis and broken his hip so that he was unable to move, yet he felt that “Someone” rolled him out of the way of the oncoming trailer. Some time elapsed before his son-in-law found him and contacted emergency services. He was flown to Omaha where he spent two weeks in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital. He had several surgeries to reconstruct his pelvis and replace his hip. Today, nearly four months after the accident, he has returned to work and is walking with the assistance of a cane. The skeptic would attribute his recovery to the excellent work of the physicians that attended him, and they completely miss the miracle that transpired. Those who have “eyes to see” know that even before anyone knew of the accident, God was already at work to preserve his life. Then as soon as “believing” friends and family were made aware of the situation, petitions to the Father started flooding the gates of heaven on his behalf and continued throughout his recovery. Those with “eyes to see” see the miracle that those who “see not” miss.

For them who “see not” the miracles that God performs every day but have a desire to see, Jesus says, “blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8).  To have eyes that see requires only that one take God at His Word and ask. “[I]f thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9). If you have “eyes that see not,” Jesus says, “anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:18). That “eye-salve” is the Word of God contained in the Bible. It will teach you how to see the miracles of God.

Notes:


[1]  http://www.inhumanthemovie.com/

[2]  Horn, Thomas and Nita Horn, Forbidden Gates: How Genetics, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Synthetic Biology, Nanotechnology, and Human Enhancement Herald The Dawn Of TechnoDimensional Spiritual Warfare, (Defender Publishing LLC, January 1, 2011)

[3]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jefferson_Bible

[4]  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/miracle?s=t

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