The resurrection of Jesus was the greatest demonstration ever of the power of God. Not only was He raised up spirit, soul and body, but all of humanity was raised up with Him. His resurrection was so powerful that all anyone has to do to experience this regenerating power is to accept Jesus and His resurrection as their own. Instantly their spirits will be raised from death to life, just like His was, with the promise that their bodies will one day be raised also—just like His. Wow! What a God!
For this level of power to be released from God there had to be an equal level of faith from a man. Jesus was that man. But how could He release faith for His own resurrection? There are incidents throughout His ministry, such as the raising of Jairus’ daughter and the widow of Nain’s son, that allowed Him the opportunity to exercise such faith. But it was at Lazarus’ tomb where Jesus came to such a fullness of faith that He not only believed for resurrection but could boldly declare, “I am the resurrection” (John 11:25).
How did He arrive at that kind of revelation about Himself? And what is its significance to us? What lessons can we apply to our own walk with the Lord?
Lesson #1: Take hold of the situation by faith and declare the end result that will glorify God.
Let’s look into John 11 and watch Jesus skillfully take the force of faith and master the spirit of death.
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 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. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was (verses 1-6).
Notice in verse 4 that Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death.” That sure was news to the devil! Clearly his plan was certain death for Lazarus which would cause doubt and division among Jesus’ friends and followers. But when Jesus spoke those faith words He stopped the devices of the devil cold. Then He said, “This sickness is…for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” So He not only stopped the natural course of sickness in Lazarus, He redirected it to a different outcome with a different purpose.
Lesson #2: Get understanding of God’s purpose from Scripture and by the Spirit. Then follow love until that purpose is fulfilled.
Verse 3 describes Mary and Martha’s image of Jesus’ love for Lazarus. They said, “he whom thou lovest.” Lost to us in English are the different meanings of love revealed by the Greek words phileo and agape. Phileo, the Greek word for love used in this verse means, “to be fond of or have affection for—finding something appealing or meaningful about the person loved.”
But verse 5 reports that Jesus had agape for Lazarus. This is love on a totally different level. It is on God’s level because God is love. God is agape! This love is purpose driven, not attraction driven. God has a purpose for mankind—to be His family. So when Adam’s sin separated him from God, God focused on the purpose for which He created man. And out of His agape love sent Jesus.
If God had been operating in phileo love when Adam could no longer fellowship with Him, He would have abandoned Adam and all his offspring. But agape never loses sight of purpose, and the highest purpose is to glorify God. God could only be glorified if His family was.
Jesus knew how to glorify God. He knew that He must be resurrected from the dead in order for all men to be raised. And Jesus understood that demonstrating His faith to raise Lazarus was necessary to the whole plan. Love for God and His purpose, as well as God’s love and purpose for Lazarus, were driving forces in every action that followed. No plan of God can be fulfilled without love.
Lesson #3: Seek to know Jesus and the power of His love. Seek to be rooted in knowing who you are in Him.
Verse 6 has perplexed people for generations. Why did Jesus intentionally stay where He was and let Lazarus die? Before we come to the same hasty conclusion most everyone in Bethany came to, we’d better take a closer look.
“[Jesus] abode.” Abide means “to remain in a given place, state, relation or expectancy.” If we look back to Chapter 10 we’ll see why this particular place was important.
The confrontation between Jesus and the Jewish leaders in John 10:24-39 is one of the most contentious recorded. They challenged whether or not He was the Messiah. When Jesus declared, “I and my Father are one,” they became so enraged that they took up stones to kill Him. His response to their hatred and violence diffused their anger so that rather than stone Him, they decided to arrest Him. But it wasn’t yet time for that, so He slipped away. (No doubt that was miracle protection.)
That encounter must have been exhausting as well as deeply disturbing. The leaders who should have recognized and welcomed Jesus were challenging Him with the same ferocity Satan had on the Temple Mount. And what was that challenge? Are You really the Son of God? Are You really who You believe You are? It’s interesting to note that the Scripture makes a point of telling us what Jesus did next. He went back across Jordan where John had baptized. Why there? Look at Luke 3:21-22. “It came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended….”
You see, Jesus returned to the very place God had openly and miraculously confirmed to Him and everyone around that He was indeed His Son. Jesus remained in that place where He had prayed and heard. He remained in that relation remembering, meditating on and enjoying His sonship. He was purposely abiding in a state of “being”—being the Son of the Most High. And lastly He remained in expectancy. At the end of that abiding time which included the two days after hearing of Lazarus’ death, He was so rooted, so certain and full of who He was in God, no one could move Him. Martha couldn’t. The mourners couldn’t. The same Jews who had tried to kill Him just days before couldn’t. Lazarus’ dead decaying body couldn’t. It was impossible to shake Him. He knew His Father and knew His place in Him.
Lesson #4: Begin to abide in your time alone with God and His Word.
Then go from that prayer place, depending upon who you are in Him, not who you are in yourself.
Faith brought Lazarus out of his tomb. And that same faith brought Jesus out of His, along with you and me. We were raised up with Him and seated with Him in the Spirit. We are the righteousness of God, more than conquerors and can do all things through Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; Romans 8:37; Philippians 4:13). But we must do as He did and take time to abide. Abide in Him in your prayer place until who you are cannot be shaken from you. Then face whatever challenges await you and watch what the Greater One will do in and through you. VICTORY
Terri Copeland Pearsons is the eldest daughter of Kenneth Copeland. She and her husband, George, pastor Eagle Mountain International Church located on the grounds of Kenneth Copeland Ministries. For information or ministry materials write to Kenneth Copeland Ministries, Fort Worth, TX 76192-0001.