2b) Lazarus is raised from the dead (John 11:1-46).

Was Lazarus really dead?

Jesus found himself in Jerusalem when he received word from Mary that Lazarus was sick. He stayed where he was for two more days and then decided to go to Bethany which was two miles from Jerusalem. There is no doubt that Lazarus was really dead because Jesus made this clear to his apostles, "Lazarus is dead. For your sakes I am glad I was not there, that you may come to believe." And when Jesus reached Bethany he ordered the men to take away the stone from the tomb, but Martha objected saying, "' Lord, it is four days now; surely there will be a stench!" So, Lazarus was really dead. And who can raise the dead except God. Clearly this miracle is beyond any power in nature.

click image to link to larger image of Giotto's painting

How are we to understand Lazarus' resurrection in relation to the final resurrection?

We define death as the separation of body and soul. Since the soul does not die Lazarus' resurrection was a reuniting of body and soul in such a way that it became biochemically reconstituted in its composition and vital energy. This is a true resurrection in time and space but with a proviso that at some point Lazarus had still to die. The resurrection of humanity is far different since the body and soul dynamics will be such as never separate again and to enjoy either unending life or damnation.

Why did Christ perform this miracle?

While still in Jerusalem Jesus told his apostles: "This sickness[of Lazarus] is not to end in death; rather it is for God's glory, that through it the Son of God may be glorified. When Jesus encountered Mary, the sister of Lazarus he told her that her brother would rise again. She said, "I know he will rise again on the last day". Jesus than said, "I am the resurrection and the life.... Do you believe this? 'Yes Lord', she replied." Again in praying to His Father before raising Lazarus He said: "'Father I thank you for having heard me. I know that you always hear me but I have said this for the sake of the crowd, that they may belive that you sent me."

Multiplication of Bread