Some commentators point to the raising of Lazarus as the turning point which led to Christ’s crucifixion, because it was after this miracle that the religious leaders ramped up their plans to murder Jesus. Jesus’s ability to resurrect a dead man prompted Caiaphas, the chief priest, to declare of Jesus (prophetically, no less) “‘it is better [that] ... one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish,’ and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Luke 11:50-52).
Caiaphas had an entirely twisted perspective on how this individual sacrifice for the benefit of the world would play out: in fact, the resurrection the priests hated (of Lazarus) led to the death they applauded (Jesus’s) and in turn to the resurrection they denied (of Jesus) which led to the ultimate fulfillment of Caiaphas’s prediction (the salvation of the nations).
God is the master of poetic irony, isn’t he?
God misses nothing. He overlooks nothing. He ignores nothing. If he can take an assassination, through which the Pharisees and Sadducees intended to silence Christ forever, and turn it into the greatest spiritual, physical, and metaphysical overturn in the history of the universe—and make the murdering Head Self-Righteous Prig prophecy truth right into it—then there’s nothing in my life I can’t trust God to manage and answer.
We’re all Lazarus. We’re all wearing grave clothes, bound by the stuff that’s leading us into the tomb. We all need Jesus to say “(insert your name here), come out.”
But we’ve all got a bit of holier-than-thou, we’ll-fix-this-my-way Caiaphas in us, too.
I’d rather be a Lazarus than a Caiaphas, though. Lazarus had a miracle worked on him. Caiaphas had one worked despite him.
It must’ve been hard to forgive Caiaphas and his cohorts when they nailed Jesus to the cross, and for those dark days after, when it looked like evil had triumphed.
But on the third day he arose. And brought with him forgiveness for us all.
* * *
“Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound…
-- John 11:43-44
* * *Jesus, I don’t know how you walked that road toward the cross with so much grace, peace, and love. You knew where you were going and what was going to happen when you got there. Yet you stopped along the way to give life back to a man who’d already been buried. What you did for him you were about to do for all of us. You forgave Lazarus’s sin which ended in his death. You forgive our sins and offer us eternal life. Who can do anything to me now?
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With questions for personal meditation and space for journaling, this 40-day devotional series offers a deeper look at Christ's command that we forgive. For a personal pilgrimage, or as a resource for group Bible study,40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey invites seekers of forgiveness and healing to the path on which God longs to meet us all. $6.49 at Amazon.com. Find out more about 40 Graces for Forgiveness: a Healing Journey.