FROM GRANWELL

I happened upon a factoid about the Bible, that John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” I looked it up out of curiosity to see what Jesus cried about, and it was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. I think it is a good example of a touching REAL story about Jesus having supernatural stuff added to it later. Why couldn’t the revisionists just leave it alone? It’s a wonderful story to see how much Jesus loved his friend, and that he would cry that much for him. It shows what a good man he was. But then they have to spoil it with all that bogus crap. It only becomes contradictory with that stuff in it. If Jesus came there to raise Lazarus from the dead, then what’s he crying about? Shouldn’t he be saying, “Hey, all you mourners! Enough with the tears already! I’m going to resurrect Lazarus, and we’re gonna have a party!” But nooo, he starts bawling himself! Tell me how that makes sense if He was there to raise Lazarus from the dead. Isn’t that a contradiction and evidence that this supernatural stuff was added later by people too stupid, or at minimum too careless, to realize the contradiction they created?

RESPONSE

I want to compliment you on your question. It’s plain you thought this up yourself and didn’t just google something. Really great question, so let’s get to it.

First, there is zero evidence for the kind of revision you’re talking about. This is the story, and it’s been the story from the time John wrote it. The manuscript evidence carries an almost, dare I say it, miraculous fidelity throughout the ages. So you’re flat wrong there; no revision occurred, and there’s not a biblical scholar on the planet who would say it did, unless they’re willing to say it without benefit of the slightest evidence.

Second, I suspect you didn’t read the entire story, because if you did, you’d sooner say that it was a supernatural story about Jesus that the revisionists later decided to set around a funeral.

Third, it does not say that Jesus wept for his friend. It says only that the Jews interpreted it that way. If you read the entire story, there’s good reason to believe that He wept not for His friend, but for some other reason. How about we go through the entire story? My comments in red:

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.)

See Mark 14 for the story about Mary. Be sure to read the ninth verse to experience a prophecy coming true right in your face! Kind of supernatural.

3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,

Here Jesus says that Lazarus will not ultimately die from this sickness, and that the reason for the sickness is that Jesus may be glorified. He calls Himself the Son of God and says His good friend is going through a deathly illness for HIS (Jesus’s) glory. Sounds like a narcissistic creep...I mean, IF He’s just a man, and not God. His words are kind of supernatural, wouldn’t you say?

Have you considered what trouble it was to send word to somebody back then? If they sent that message to Jesus, everyone knew it must be serious. They knew Lazarus was dying. But what does Jesus do? He seemingly ignores the message and hangs out for a couple days. Sound like a good friend? Is that what YOU would do if a friend you really loved were ill to the point of death? Don’t you think NOW would be a good time for Jesus to cry, or at least show some concern? If someone told you your good friend that you loved was dying, what would be YOUR reaction? Jesus does not behave like a good man at all. But if Jesus is God, it is all planned to the second. There is no need for concern. His reaction is kind of supernatural, wouldn’t you say?

7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

Any idea why the Jews tried to stone Jesus the last time He was in Judea? It was because He claimed equality with God. Kind of a supernatural thing to claim, huh? This also gives us some insight as to why perhaps the disciples did not mind Jesus staying away from Lazarus and Judea. They thought He would be killed. Perhaps they thought that’s WHY Jesus chose to stay put a couple days. But it wasn’t. As usual, they misjudged His actions.

Any idea as to the meaning of Jesus’s “light” words? It probably seems like an odd thing to say in reply to “Why are you going back to where people want to kill you?”, doesn’t it? In the first chapter, John refers to Christ as the light of the world. Those Jews in Judea were stumbling in darkness; they needed light. They needed Christ, and He would give Himself to meet that need despite the peril. The Bible does not say it, but I bet at least some of the disciples were puzzled at His words. They constantly misinterpreted His words and misjudged His actions because they looked and listened with fleshly eyes and ears.

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus ) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Again, they misinterpret His words. And how about that, Jesus KNOWS Lazarus is dead ahead of time and says He’s going to resurrect him. Kind of supernatural, huh?

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Kind of a supernatural thing to claim, isn’t it? He says if anyone believes in Him, that person will live and never die, and the implication is that if you don’t believe in Him, you will die and never live. He’s not merely claiming to have power over life and death, He’s claiming to be the incarnation of that power.

What would you think of a man who says these kind of things? There’s only three ways to interpret it: He’s either insane, or He’s an evil con-man, or He’s telling the truth.

By the way, interesting fact – there was the belief at the time that a person’s spirit stayed near to the body for three days after death, but on the fourth day…no doubt about it, baby...you are dead and gone.

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Isn’t it odd how not only Jesus claims supernatural abilities, but both Martha a Mary and some of the other Jews ascribe them to Him as well? These were people who knew and loved Him best. How difficult do you think it would be to convince your best friends that you’re God?

Now the Bible tells us plainly what caused Jesus to weep: the weeping of Mary and all the Jews, NOT the death of His friend. Typically, people misjudged Jesus. They thought He wept for His lost friend. They did not realize He wept for them. In the King James, it says that Jesus “groaned within himself” before He wept. The apostle Paul uses similar language in Romans 8:

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.

The creation groans, we groan, even the Holy Spirit groans in the realization of our present condition. We are sinful and falling to pieces, here today, gone tomorrow, glutting ourselves on blood and lies in the little time we have. We groan because God’s law, His Word reveals to us not only what we are, but what we ought to be, and the chasm between those two states is insurmountable by us. I believe it is this same emotion behind the tears of Jesus. Here the Lord of Life stood, and even his closest friends could barely recognize the fact. Blindly they wallow in the misery of death, helpless to see the antidote standing right next to them.

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

He talks to God as if He were His Son, then raises Lazarus from the dead. Kind of supernatural, wouldn’t you say? In fact this story is entirely supernatural. It is all about Christ’s deity. If you remove the supernatural elements, what’s left? Not much.

The truth of the matter is this: If Jesus is God, then there is no contradiction whatsoever in this story anywhere. But if Jesus was only a man, then there is nothing BUT contradiction in this story, and Jesus is either insane or evil, and the “resurrection” of Lazarus was just some kind of clever publicity stunt.

Not long after this event, Jesus offered the antidote to death to the entire world through His death on the cross. It is up to each individual whether to take the antidote or not.

I’m taking it. How about you?