Willing to risk the stench of a decaying human body, Jesus tells those in charge of Lazarus’ tomb to “take away the stone.” Let’s continue thinking through this chapter and read our next section of John 11 …
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
How critical is prayer? Well, for the Lord Jesus, prayer served a variety of purposes (see our previous series of posts on John 17 entitled “What Did Jesus Pray About?”).
Here, just as the stone is removed from Lazarus’ tomb, Jesus prays. He says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” (vv. 41-42).
Perhaps you’ve heard the story of the young seminarian who was asked to open the church service in prayer. He prayed a long, complicated, deep prayer and then said, “Amen.” The pastor, who was not always the most gracious, whispered to him, “I have never heard a better and more eloquent prayer — prayed to people!”
Jesus must have prayed this prayer out loud, for it was for the people. Not to impress them. But to challenge them to believe. Where else in our study of this chapter does Jesus emphasize belief? (to be continued)