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John 11 v 36 - 44

One of the startling things about this miracle is that clearly Lazarus had been kept in a state of suspended animation in the tomb which would have been for the family, possibly sufficient for eight bodies. Now, the Jews believed that a spirit hovered around a dead body for four days and then departed as it could no longer recognise it because it had decayed so much. Jesus appeared to have this great voice of authority which He used to command, for instance, the storm to be stilled, the demons to come out of their victim, to proclaim His message at festivals. He uses it here to call Lazarus from the tomb and, shockingly, Lazarus appears, comically with grave-cloths wrapped around him. It would have been more a stumble than a walk when Lazarus came into the bright Judaeo sunlight! Aside from the miracle which kept Lazarus hovering between death and life for four days, we should note that Jesus prayed: it was not His power which was used but God's (Philippians 2 v 5-8 NIV). F.L.Godet declared: 'Miracles are just so many answered prayers.' Reflect on that for a moment! Everything Jesus did was to glorify God; unlike us He didn't have to check that there were no darker motives.

We have taken our time exploring this miracle. It still leaves us with questions: Why is there no account of this in the other three Gospels? John sees this as the prime reason for Christ's crucifixion, whereas the other Gospels see the provocative act of His cleansing of the Temple: if it was such a key event, why no record anywhere apart from here? However, if we take this miracle into account, we can see why the crowds were so eager to welcome Jesus to Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday. It appears to me of greater mystery that it was omitted in Matthew, Mark and Luke, than it was written about here. There are some echoes of Jesus' resurrection-the tombstone rolled away, the grave cloths, the similar period of time in the tomb. I think we can read of more and more sensational miracles as we read our way through this Gospel, often performed before smaller groups than the huge crowds which followed Jesus initially (the feeding of the 5000). I would say that John is building us up, preparing us for the ultimate act of Jesus and everything from now on is focused entirely on His coming death. 

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