John 11:38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
The mourners are standing around at the tomb. The tomb is the physical evidence of the separation between life and death. There’s been a proper burial so for Jesus to ask for the stone to be taken away seems shocking. There are rules that must be observed once the tomb is sealed. These mourners are about to see Jesus challenge the power of death with the glory of God…life.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus has promised Martha that belief would let her see the glory of God. Jesus prays aloud for the crowd. They need to hear and understand the miracle Jesus is about to do is undeniable proof for them that He has been sent by His Father to overcome the defilement of death with God’s glory…life for Lazarus.
What does it say about people?
The people have come to mourn Lazarus. There’s an unusual backstory here; moving that stone away is risky business. Jewish law stated mere nearness to a corpse could render a Jew unclean [Numbers 19] and sometimes the tomb stone would be painted white as courtesy alert for passers-by to take a wide berth because the defilement of death was catching and one person could pass it to another.
Is there truth here for me?
“Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb.” It wasn’t the mourning of Lazarus that troubled Jesus, it was that death had the power to defile life that was meant to represent the glory of God. Jesus came to this open tomb to prove He was both the Power of God that could raise Lazarus and the Glory of God, who by a simple two-word command “unbind him” could overcome the defilement of death with abundant life.