Lou: What about the raising of Lazarus? He was dead for four days! Wasn’t that outstanding evidence of Jesus’ authority? Wouldn’t you believe just on the basis of that performance?
Graham: We call that His crowning miracle, don’t we? And yet it’s significant that Elijah had resurrected the dead before (1 Kings 17:17-24). So even that was certainly not unique. What matters, I think, is the total situation within which Jesus did that. For example, He had just been crying a short while before (John 11:35). And they said, “Behold, how He loved him” (John 11:36). Actually, the very gentleness of Jesus was the kind of thing that disappointed many of His followers. But then moments later He demonstrated that He could resurrect the dead. And the theologians knew exactly what this implied. That’s why it says, “From then on, they plotted to murder Him” (John 11:53). They realized that step by step He was demonstrating beyond question that He was not only infinitely powerful but equally gracious, the One who fitted the Old Testament description.
More than that, He had the wisdom to wait until the fourth day and they must have realized it. Likely they had questioned His resurrection of Jairus’ daughter before (Mark 5:22, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56). And so this time He waited until the fourth day, because some of them believed that the spirit hovered nearby for three days after death, in case of resuscitation. For this reason, He waited until the fourth day, until the most skeptical person in His audience would admit that Lazarus was really dead. And then, when He said “Roll away the stone,” He wanted to hear them say, “Don’t roll it away, he stinks” (John 11:39). Because then they would all admit that he really was dead. “Now,” He said, “come forth” (John 11:43-44). They had no answer for that. And when you’ve run out of evidence, you turn to violence. And they tried to kill Him.
Lou: So the raising of Lazarus did not serve to convince them, it actually turned them against Him all the more. In fact, it sealed His doom.
Graham: Yes. But to some of us, the idea that God could one minute be crying and the next minute resurrecting the dead; that sounds good.
Lou: So the chief priests went about to even plot Lazarus’ death (John 12:9-11).
Graham: That’s right; to get rid of the evidence. Lazarus was going around explaining his death and resurrection. They didn’t like that testimony.