Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” (John 11:45-53)
In studying the familiar story of Jesus raising His friend Lazarus from the dead, John 11 can be divided into three major categories. The first category is the preparation for the miracle (11:1–16). The second is the arrival of Jesus prior to the miracle (vs. 17–36). The third category is Jesus performing the miracle (vs. 37-44). The fourth and final category are the results of the miracle (vs. 45–57).
We witness two results of Jesus raising Lazarus from dead in today’s text. They are indicative of many responses today to Jesus’ person and work. Responses to Jesus always involve two classes of people. However, these responses also are specifically pertinent to the historical context we find in John 11.
The first response was sincere and true belief. “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him.” We see a class of people who believe in Jesus. Trust, commitment, dependence and worship was the result of Jesus’ miracle. These were people who came to the tomb with Mary, witnessed what Jesus did and by monergistic regeneration of the Holy Spirit (John 3:1-8) came to saving faith in Christ.
The second response was sincere and true unbelief. “but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” You sense that this second class of people who witnessed the raising of Lazarus ran and told the Pharisees in order to get Jesus into trouble. They did not deny the miracle but they did deny Jesus. Rather than view the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection, which they did not deny, they used it rather as an occasion to seek to kill Jesus. This second response is recorded in detail by the Apostle John as he described the ongoing pursuit by the Pharisees and the high priest for Jesus’ execution. How ironic that one of Jesus’ greatest miracles results in great hatred by His enemies.
Pastor Burk Parsons explains that, “No ordinary man can raise the dead, so many of the Jews believed in Jesus when they saw Him resurrect Lazarus (John 11:1–45). However, not all of them came to faith. Some reported to the Pharisees what had happened, and the Pharisees joined with other Jewish leaders in plotting to get rid of Jesus (vv. 46–53). Again we see that it does not matter how much evidence there is regarding Christ’s identity if someone is intent on rejecting Him as Lord and Savior. Those who are unwilling to believe will remain so unless and until God changes their hearts (see 3:1–8). John Calvin comments that “before men can profit by miracles, their hearts must be purified; for they who have no fear of God, and no reverence for him, though they saw heaven and earth mingled, will never cease to reject sound doctrine through obstinate ingratitude.”
What is your response today to the person and work of Jesus Christ? Do you trust in Jesus alone for your salvation from the penalty, power and eventual presence of sin? He is the only one who can resurrect your dead soul and eventually your dead body. Trust in Him as Lord and Savior today.
Soli deo Gloria!