Jesus' resurrection of His friend Lazarus from the dead proved to be the final straw for the Jews who were trying to kill Him. After contrasting Jesus' weeping with those around Him, Martin Collins considers the diverse reactions of the witnesses to His great miracle, focusing on how it was a sign to them and us.
Among Jesus Christ's greatest miracles is the resurrection of his good friend, Lazarus of Bethany, brother of two of His most ardent followers, Mary and Martha. Martin Collins examines John 11, particularly Jesus' approach to and way of expressing the concept of death.
Richard Ritenbaugh, reflecting on popular concepts of the after-death experiences, inspired by medieval yarn-spinners such as Dante, focuses on Luke 16:19-31 (the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man), a "proof text" Catholic and Protestant theologians use to corroborate the torments of an ever-burning hell. From God's Word, however, we learn that the dead are aware of nothing in the grave (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10). When the spirit returns to God, He keeps it safe until the resurrection. God has the power to destroy the immaterial spirit in man. No mortal, including King David, has ascended into heaven; our resurrection will occur later. We must remember that a parable is a teaching device, not intended to be taken literally, but as a vehicle to understand spiritual truths. The rich man was chastised for his lack of charity. The beggar, probably buried in a pauper's grave, was gathered to Abraham's Bosom (Abraham, of course, was still in the ground) but will be resurrected at Christ's second coming as part of the firstfruits. The rich man was in anguish because of realizing the consequences of his judgment—facing eternal death in the Lake of Fire. He depended on his physical lineage from Abraham rather than becoming a spiritual offspring by following Abraham's deeds. The recipients of this parable were the hard-hearted Pharisees, not caring for the people typified by Lazarus.
Richard T. Ritenbaugh: As we begin our study, we need to consider the perspectives of death of two righteous individuals. These viewpoints are included in the Word of God for our admonition ...
The gospels present Jesus working the wonderful miracle of resurrection only three times in His ministry, one of which is the raising of the widow's son. Martin Collins dissects the episode, elucidating the depth of our Savior's compassion for others.
Matthew 27:52 informs us that more than one resurrection occurred during Passover week in AD 31! This article summarizes the types of resurrections that appear in God's Word, and uses this information to provide answers to the many questions that arise about this astounding miracle.
God's sovereignty seems to imply that prayer is a fruitless exercise—that God has everything already planned. John Ritenbaugh explains, however, that we must change our ideas about the function of prayer: It is not to change God's mind but ours!
John Ritenbaugh stresses that zealous, sincere, human, religious faith may not be godly, but ironically, because of its fervency, often puts our faith to shame. Our faith has to have as its object a dynamic personal quality with habitual fellowship with God in prayer, meditation, and Bible study. Quality fellowship with our brethren offers frequent opportunities for exhortation and a safeguard against loss of faith. When we fellowship with a small, intimate group, chances for this productive exhortation (Hebrews 10:23-25) greatly increases, increasing our faith. Living faith has its roots in fervently, diligently seeking God and His righteousness with intense desire (like a passinate lover) through habitual prayer.
John Ritenbaugh affirms that it is constant earnest praying which keeps faith alive and makes certain the receiving of every one of the qualities which make us in the image of God. Like Enoch, we must walk with God as a way of life, seeking Him out and talking with Him on a continual basis. A person maturing in faith would always pray in consistency and alignment with God's purpose. We always have to understand that God's purpose comes first, not our request. If we walk with God daily, God will provide us patience and insight into the meaning of our trials, and how they work out His ultimate purpose. In removing mountains, we must focus more on the reality of God than on the mountain.
John Ritenbaugh, reflecting upon Jesus' reluctance to go immediately to Lazarus, suggests that He intended to impress upon His close friends, Mary and Martha, the gravity of sin's consequences. The example also forcefully illustrates that Jesus (reflecting God the Father) keeps His own timetable; nobody pushes Him. The issue of fear of death is addressed in this study, with the conclusion that trust in God's ability to resurrect can neutralize this most basic universal debilitating fear, a fear that increases exponentially the older we get. Christ gives us the assurance that death is not the end. Internalizing this assurance opens the way to the abundant life, enabling us to live boldly, conquering, with God's help, the fear of death. Our approach at that point will become God-centered rather than self-centered. The episode of Jesus' weeping emphasizes that God has emotions, revealing anger, compassion, and empathy. The resurrection of Lazarus, the last of the seven signs Jesus performed before His death, proved to be the last straw for the religious leaders, who became motivated to crucify Him.
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
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