In our study of John 11, we have become acquainted with the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They lived in Bethany, just a few miles out of Jerusalem city limits, and were relatively well known in that community and most likely had the means to be “middle” or “upper middle” class. The above two points are taken from the fact that many attended the week long mourning of Lazarus’ death and the use of the cave as well as Mary’s use of expensive ointment on another occasion.
Now, compare this Lazarus with the Lazarus of Luke 16:19-31. Here we know Lazarus to be poor and a beggar. That alone would cause us to question any connection with the Lazarus of John 11. However, there is a great point made in this very curious and difficult Luke 16 passage that relates to the Lazarus account of John 11.
Beginning in Luke 16:24, there is an interaction between the rich man, who had died and is in torment, and Abraham, where Lazarus has gone in his death. The rich man cries out to Abraham for relief, but receives none. He then cries out for some warning to be sent to his family, and here is the response:
29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” – Luke 16:29-31 (ESV)
The scriptures are sufficient to proclaim the gospel to the lost and dying in this world. This next Sunday, we will see the reaction to the resurrection of Lazarus by the Jews. Instead of it spawning wide-spread belief, it invoked rage and hatred. Christ has been declaring the truth of the OT all throughout His ministry, and while the signs support His claims, they do not cause belief where the Word has not first planted seeds for lasting fruit.
Here’s the quick application: Is God’s Word sufficient for your spiritual growth? Too often, I feel like we seek the newest book or study, when there is nothing outside of scripture that will change our hearts if scripture has not first changed our hearts. I charge you (and myself) to again renew our commitment to the sufficient, perfect, life-changing Word of God on a daily basis through reading, study, meditation and memorization.