How could someone see with their own eyes and experience with their own senses a marvel that defies any and all natural explanations and still not attribute the occurrence to a super-natural power?
In the Gospel of John, it is recorded that Jesus, in a crowd of people comprised of unbelievers, as well as believers, raised from the dead his friend Lazarus.
Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days. (John 11:17) His sisters were afraid that if Lazarus’ tomb were opened, the putrid smell of decaying flesh would be extremely unsettling to all the people present. (John 11:39) In other words, there was no doubt that Lazarus was really dead, not just in a coma or in a state of suspended animation (whatever that might mean). Regardless, Jesus instructed some people in attendance there to remove the stone from the entrance to the cave where Lazarus’ body had been placed four days prior.
Put yourself there. Your friends or acquaintances are grieving. You may be grieving with them or for them. Or you may have arrived to pay your respects because of religious, cultural, family, or social expectations. Maybe Mr. Lazarus used to be your boss, or perhaps you used to do business with Lazarus and Company. Maybe you just heard that the food was going to be really good. For whatever reason, you’re there, though.
Now the Rabbi shows up. He arrives with an entourage of disciples, and some people begin to talk.
“If he cared so much for Lazarus and his sisters, why didn’t he come to comfort them sooner?” says one.
Another challenges, “Hey, he claims to be the Messiah. Why didn’t he get here before Lazarus died? He could have healed Lazarus like people say he healed a bunch of poor people?
A third guys chimes in saying, “Yeah, I heard he even touched a fellow with leprosy to heal him. Hope he doesn’t touch me today. I gotta go down and offer up a lamb later today. Can’t be ritually unclean, you know!”
A youngish man says, “Hey, I hope he does a miracle. I’d like to see a miracle. You ever seen a miracle? I mean a real miracle miracle miracle?”
The big guy with the really long beard says, “He’s not gonna do a miracle. He don’t do miracles. That’s just a rumor.”
“Ohhh, he does miracles alright,” shoots back the nervous guy, “H-h-he j-just does them through the power of ‘you know who’ and not from the ‘Man Upstairs!’”
Then somebody says really loudly, “Oh, my gosh, would you look at that! They’re opening the tomb! I can’t believe they’re opening the tomb. What’re they OPENING the tomb for? Let’s all go see!”
So you amble over with the crowd and stop near the tomb. Not too close, of course, but certainly close enough to see.
And then you see Jesus take a step or two away from Mary and Martha toward the entrance of the cave. There’s still a tear or two near Jesus’ eyes from when he was crying a few minutes ago. (John 11:35)
Then Jesus looks up and says, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 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.” (John 11:41-42)
Maybe somebody didn’t quite hear what Jesus said to the Father, but they hear him now because he speaks very loudly, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43)
Nobody goes in to get Lazarus’ body. It’s not twilight. Everyone can see just fine. They’ve just never seen anything like this ever before! Ever!
Lazarus is on his feet. He’s wrapped with burial cloths, but he’s definitely moving. And he’s not green or purplish. He looks, well, exactly like the old Lazarus that we’ve all known and loved so well. (John 11:44)
Jesus smiles at Martha and Mary and turns to the guys that pulled back the gravestone. He says, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:44)
Lazarus doesn’t even look sick or weak. He looks good. He’s smiling, and there’s a little glisten on his cheeks as he goes and hugs Jesus and Mary and Martha.
But right next to you, I mean right beside you, in plain view of the open tomb and the breathing Lazarus and the smiling family is a cluster of men who turn to one another shaking their heads.
One says, “This is no good. We’d better go tell the Temple officials and the Pharisees. They’ve gotta put a stop to this kind stuff. Did they tell him it was okay to go around doing this kind of stuff? I don’t think so!” (John 11:46)
Another pipes in, “You know what’s gonna happen if the Romans get wind of this? I’ll tell you what’s gonna happen! POW! The’re gonna wack us! What if people get the bright idea to try to make this guy the king or somethin’? I don’t want the Romans comin’ down on me on account of this!” (John 11:48)
“Hey, look how many people are goin’ over and treatin’ Jesus like some sorta celebrity or somethin’! That ain’t good. I tell ya, that ain’t good!” the third one adds. (John 11:45-48)
You turn to the guy standing on the other side of you and ask, “Didn’t we all see and hear the same thing?”
He nods yes.
You say, “Hey, let’s go see what else Jesus has to say. [John 11:45] By the way, how many people would you say just saw the same thing you and I did–maybe a coupla hundred? Yeah.”
“Maybe some day modern science will come along and tell us why we didn’t see what we just saw,” the other guy says.
“Or maybe representatives of the people’s utopian government will,” you respond.
Just something to think about.