Dead Man Walking Devotional

Dead Man Walking

Julia Bettencourt

Posted February 28, 2014

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.   John 11:43, 44

Bible Passage: John Chapter 11 

Today I'm sharing a news story straight from the Bible.  This is headline news about a man named Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead.

Faces on the Street

First, let's find out who the characters in this story are.  There is Lazarus from the town of Bethany, Mary and Martha who were his sisters, the disciples, the people who came to mourn with Mary and Martha, and Jesus Himself.

A Cry for Help

The sisters, Mary and Martha, who fellowshipped so closely with the Lord, sent word to Jesus that their brother was sick.  When Jesus got the word, He still stayed where He was for two days more before He told his disciples that He wanted to go to Lazarus.  The disciples didn't want Jesus to go because the Jews had already wanted to kill Him.

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?  John 11:6-8

Jesus ends up going but Lazarus had been buried and in his tomb four days by the time He arrived.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she ran out to meet Him, while Mary stayed inside.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.  John 11:20 

Could Haves and Should Haves

Martha then tells Jesus that Lazarus would have lived if only He had been there.  When Jesus responds that Lazarus would rise again, Martha thought He was talking about him rising again in the final resurrection.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  John 11:21-24

Private Affairs

After her discussion with Jesus, Martha then goes to tell Mary that Jesus was there and that He was asking for her.

And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.  John 11:28, 29

Did you notice that Martha called Mary "secretly"?  She did it in a private manner, maybe not to spread the word of His coming because many of the Jews wanted to do Jesus harm.

Maybe she did it privately out of concern that Mary could go to Jesus by herself while she was in deep grief without a crowd around Him.  Maybe she did it privately out of respect for the mourners and just wanted to be quiet about it.

A Quick Response

I notice something important about Mary in these verses as well. It says she "arose quickly" and went to Jesus.  We know that Mary is the one that sat at the feet of Jesus to hear Him teach (Luke 10:39).

We also know that this is the Mary that used her precious ointment to wash the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair.  This happens after Lazarus rises from the dead (John 12:3).

I think this verse in John 11 adds to what we know about her character.  Mary was one who responded quickly to the summons of Jesus.  That's such a great trait to have as a Christian.  To always be ready to respond quickly to what Christ wants us to do.

On the Outskirts of Town

Another thing we see here about Mary, is that even with all the grief that was bearing down on her because of the death of her brother, we notice she went to where Jesus was.  Mary didn't wait for Him to come to her.  Jesus was still outside the city at this time.

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.  John 11:30

If Only

Just as Martha had done, Mary also told Jesus that her brother would not have died if He would have come sooner.

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  John 11:32

I'm sure we all have those "if only" conversations with ourselves or even with God.  If only this had happened.  If only that had happened.  Why did this have to happen?

As humans and Christians, even devoted Christians as Mary was, we question the paths our lives take at one point or another.

Tearful Moments

We've seen a little about how Mary and Martha were reacting, now we come to the point in our story that we get to see how Jesus reacted in this situation.  Remember up further in this chapter that it said how Jesus felt about Lazarus and his sisters?  He loved them.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  John 11:5

When Mary came out to meet Jesus, the Jews that came to comfort her followed her from inside the house.  They all were weeping, Mary, and the people that followed her.  Look at what Jesus' reaction was in verse 33.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

Next Jesus gets practical and asks where Lazarus was.  After they told Jesus to "come and see" is where we find those two tiny words, the shortest verse in the Bible.

Jesus wept  John 11:35

Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to be raised from the dead, but this was a man who had died that Jesus loved, but also it was a family that Jesus grew to love as well and He reacted with them.

Look at the reaction of the people who were standing around Jesus that day.

Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!  John 11:36

Speculation in the Crowd

Just like Martha and Mary, the people that were their friends and neighbors also had an opinion of what Jesus should have done or could have done.

I guess it is not just our generation, but onlookers have been voicing their opinions from way back in Biblical times.  If they had Twitter back then, they would have been typing in #JesuscouldhavecuredLazarus.  The story would have been shared all over Facebook and it would have received hundreds of comments, likes, and dislikes.

And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?  John 11:37

A Gentle Reminder

We know a little bit about Martha from the Scriptures.  Back in Luke we see the interaction of Jesus and Martha.  Remember how Martha was busy serving, as a matter of fact, she was "cumbered about much serving".  She wanted help from her sister Mary, who was sitting listening to Jesus teach.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?  bid her therefore that she help me.

And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.

But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.  Luke 10:40-42

Here in this passage of John we see again the interaction between Jesus and Martha.  I love the fact that Jesus didn't just ignore Martha's concerns, but addressed them.

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?  John 11:40

Jesus is reinforcing what He has already told her.  He's reminding Martha that He already told her to believe.  Just believe.


When Jesus tells them to take the stone away from the tomb, Martha wasn't so sure about it.  One thing that is important in news stories are quotes and I wish I could have been there to hear Martha tell Jesus what she told him about her brother in the grave.  She told the Lord that the body was going to stink if they rolled that stone away.

...Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.  John 11:39

I wish I could have heard the inflections in Martha's voice, seen the look on her face, and could have taken in all her body language as she spoke to Jesus that day.

Can you just imagine Martha standing by the grave of Lazarus that day?  I can just picture her as the anxious looking type.  The stone was going to be rolled out and everyone was going to see, and not only see, but would smell the body of her dead brother.  Martha thought it was too late for Jesus to help.

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone.  Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.  John 11:39

I think we as Christian women all have a little of Martha in us.  We all get "cumbered about".  We all get anxious.  We all get low on our faith.  We all don't listen to Jesus at times.  We all need those gentle reminders to believe.

It's a Miracle

Next in our story comes the actual climax.  The stone of the tomb is rolled away, Jesus calls on Lazarus, and he comes out of the grave.  Before He calls on Lazarus; however, Jesus prays first and look how He does it.  It says Jesus lifted his eyes.  He wasn't looking down, pleading, or anything like that.  Jesus looked up, thanking God for hearing His prayer.

I think it's worth mentioning here too that Jesus calls God, "Father" in this prayer.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to rise from the dead.  He looked up expectant and thankful when He prayed to His Father.

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.  John 11:41-44

Don't you love how Lazarus came out with his graveclothes wrapped around him?  I'm not sure if he got very far on his own as he would have been bound with the strips of cloth that he was buried in.

His face was covered with a "napkin", the piece that was put over the face in buriel, so he couldn't see where he was going either or not very well anyway.  It was most likely linen so it was probably thin and had a little see through value.

When Lazaus "came forth" he was just answering the call that Jesus gave him.

Lazarus couldn't unbind himself.  Other people needed to do it for him. It doesn't say in the Bible who took off his bandages, but Jesus did tell the people standing by to do it.  I imagine everyone stood there speechless and astonished before they jumped into action.  Death had always been permanent to them.

The Underlying Issue

Let's take a deeper look into this story.  After all His time on earth teaching and performing miracles, why did Jesus choose this time to raise this man from the dead?  I think we can see the answer back up in the first part of John 11 way before Jesus even started for Bethany where Lazarus was.  Jesus gives the reason right when He is sent word about Lazarus being sick.  It was to glorify God.

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.  John 11:4

He reminds Martha of this further down in the chapter in the same place where we saw one of the interactions between Jesus and Martha above.

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?  John 11:40

Even when Jesus prayed right before He called out Lazarus, He talks about His concern for those looking on that they might know that God sent Him.  Jesus wanted the people to know it was God's doing, that God would get the glory.

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.  John 11:42

Look at what some of the people did that were with Mary that day. They believed.

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.  John 11:45

Almost every story in the Bible that we read, even if it isn't spelled out for us, contains undertones of glorifying God.  That should be our purpose in life as well, simply to glorify God.  If we would get that settled, everything else would fall into place when it comes to Christian living.

Gawkers and Gazers

This is that "after" part of the story.  Have you ever seen those reality shows that have updates once in a while?  You know, they drop in so many weeks or months later.  If we step on over to John chapter 12, we can take a peek at what transpires after our story.

If we look into the windows of that same house located in Bethany (John 12:1-9), we find Jesus has arrived again for a visit.  Looks like we are just in time for supper.  Notice who is serving.  Martha of course.  Some things haven't changed.

During this visit from Jesus is when Mary took the ointment and washed His feet.  Apparently the disciples are there with Jesus also, because this is where Judas Iscariot reprimands Mary for using such a costly ointment on the feet of Jesus.

There were a lot of people showing up at that home that day.  People always want to see what's going on.  Don't they?  There were people who not only wanted to see Jesus, but the man who was raised from the dead as well.

Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead.  John 12:9


One thing I see about this story is the significance of it.  You know how people keep copies of newspapers with famous stories in them, like the day Elvis died, D-Day, the sinking of the Titanic, and other historical or cultural events.  Sometimes even gloves have to be worn to handle those newspapers or they are so old that they are kept under glass in museums.

This Bible story should be of great importance to us as Christians and we are so blessed that we have access to it.  We can pull it out and read it whenever we want.

Look at the significance of what it says in John 11:53 and 54.

Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

The Jews that wanted to silence Jesus were out to kill Him more than they ever were.  This was a man who brought someone back from the dead.  Jesus from that point on, from the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, didn't speak openly anymore.

This was a turning point in history.  Everything else from this point on, beginning with what happens in John chapter 12, all leads up to the death of Jesus and His own resurrection.

When my daughter and son-in-law gave me an MP3 player for Christmas several years ago, they loaded some songs onto it before they wrapped it.  One of the songs was a Brooks and Dunn song called, "I Believe".  It's about a man whose dear elderly friend has died and he's remembering some of the things the old man had said to him while he was growing up.

One of the lines says the following,

"I raise my hands, bow my head
I'm finding more and more truth in the words written in red"

I find that to be so true in my own life.  When I read through those passages "in red" where Jesus is talking and teaching I learn so much.  I find out truth.  That in turn strengthens my faith.

My hope is that I will be sensitive to the fact that the passages in the Bible like this one are a learning ground for me.  I know I need to dig deeper into the Word so I'll grow more as a Christian and glorify Christ more in my life, because that's what it is all about, glorifying God.

I am much encouraged after reading through this Bible story again and I want to encourage you to read through the entire chapter of John 11, maybe even read on down into chapter 12.  Don't miss all that good stuff that's in there.

So, what relationship do you have with the One who made the dead man walk?

Copyright ©2014 Julia Bettencourt
Scripture References are from the King James Version.

Permission given to print this material for personal and local church use with copyright information and website url in tact.  No reprinting of this material online in any way.  Please share the page url instead.  See the Terms of Use for more information.

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