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The Ressurection Of Lazarus As Central To The Gospel Of Gospel Of John Essay, Research Paper
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John comprise the core of Christian belief and tradition; in telling the story of the life and works of Jesus of Nazareth, each serves to direct and instruct the lives of His followers while also firmly establishing the divinity and nature of Jesus as the Messiah. The Gospel of John stands out from the other three, deemed the Synoptic Gospels because of the way they are organized section by section, rather than as synthesizing an overall theme as in John, in that it contains no genealogy of Jesus, but instead attempts to establish his significance through his miracles and explain the mystery of Jesus through a glimpse into his nature itself. John delves into Jesus’ life as both a human and divine being; it shows Jesus as the embodiment of God in the world, physically interacting with His people. This relationship, so important to the foundation of the Christian faith, is most evident in the resurrection of Lazarus, a miracle which can, in many ways, be viewed as the central event of John’s Gospel, not only because it falls directly in the middle of the book, but because it acts as the culmination of the many miracles of Jesus Christ. This story vividly demonstrates Jesus’ human traits and his divine power as well, setting up the plot for the rest of John’s Gospel and furthering the theme of God’s role in human life.
Jesus’ miracles provide tangible evidence of His power, consequently gathering many admirers, and helping to spread His teachings throughout the land. These followers saw the miracles as signs from God that Jesus was truly their savior, just as the descriptions of these miracles in the Gospels have served to do so for so many living after the time of Jesus. While Jesus welcomed these followers, He was most pleased with those who possessed true faith, those who believed without seeing as Abraham did when he brought his only son to be sacrificed. In chapter six of the Gospel of John, Jesus performs the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves, the only miracle present in all four Gospels. A large crowd was by then following Jesus because “?they saw signs that he was doing for the sick.” When Jesus performed this miracle of feeding five thousand with but five loaves and two fish, the faith of the crowd in his divine being grew extraordinarily. This becomes clear in verse 14 when the crowd says “this is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.” Yet the crowd still refers to Him as a prophet, and does not accept Him fully as the son of God.
Jesus continued to use His power to perform miracles as a way to turn people to God and build the faith of His followers. In Chapter 9, Jesus heals a blind man. The blind man is healed on account of his faith in God and his belief in Jesus Christ. The blind man professes his faith in Jesus when he says “Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” John also takes time to give an explanation for the existence of evil: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.” Though this point is not further developed, it does expound upon the concept that God ‘works in mysterious ways,’ and allows Jesus to be deemed “the light of the world,” alluding, perhaps, not just to the blind man’s new found ability to see, but also Christ’s bringing of the knowledge of the truth about humans and God, who is also often represented by light, likely as a conflation with Apollo, the chief Roman god, associated with the sun, and also, strangely enough, the god of prophecy.
As with the miracle of the blind man, faith in Christ and the Word of God are as important in John’s Gospel as they were in the Old Testament. John’s Gospel, more so than the others, is a return to the traditional them of faith in God, though it is a modification of this theme in that it uses the miracles of Jesus Christ to link God with mankind. The culmination of all these miracles comes in the eleventh book of John, when Lazarus is resurrected. When Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, he brings him back from the furthest possible place a person can be, demonstrating, more completely than ever before, the extent of His power and the divine nature of His being. He later says to Martha: “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”, once again referring to the importance of faith above all else. Jesus uses Lazarus’ death to demonstrate the power of God and repercussions of having faith in God. Later in the Gospel Jesus himself will be resurrected by God as Jesus resurrected Lazarus. This shows the true significance of Lazarus’ resurrection by Christ. Jesus goes on to thank God and say: “?I have said this for the sake of the crowd?so that they may believe that you sent me.” He knows that resurrecting Lazarus will be his most visible and talked about miracle, building the faith of those who follow Him. It confirms the power of God working in Jesus and confirms Jesus’ status as God’s word incarnate, things which firmly establish the central importance of Lazarus’ resurrection among all of His miracles.
The duality of Christ, as both a divine and human being, is revealed in the resurrection of Lazarus. The essential rebirth of Lazarus clearly develops the relationship between God and man, and shows Jesus as the epitome of this relationship. The Gospel says that “Jesus began to weep,” (Jn 11:35) when finding out that Lazarus had died while he delayed in coming. Not only does this demonstrate the true compassion of Jesus, as does verse 33: “When Jesus saw her weeping?he was deeply moved,” but it also serves to establish Jesus’ human side, as one gets the sense that he felt he erred in not coming in time to the dying Lazarus, as Mary and Martha had requested. The passion of Jesus in this scene makes Him further accessible to humans as well, for, if Jesus were solely divine, he would have at once conceived of Lazarus’ greater glory in Heaven and thus have had no reason to cry. Yet the scene also clearly demonstrates Jesus’ divine nature, for only God is capable of raising people from the dead, as He later does in Book 20 of Gospel of John. When Jesus performs this miracle, which only God can do, he surely displays His divinity, and with His previous display of emotion, Jesus established his humanity; thus the duality of Christ is established, without question, by His resurrection of Lazarus, the focal point of God’s experience of human life through Jesus Christ.
Jesus gained many followers by performing His miracles. Many of these, however, felt threatened by His power and influence. The resurrection of Lazarus, while firmly supporting John’s thesis, also paves the way for plot development in the Gospel, making it a critical point in Jesus’ life. In this way it adds to the support that the Gospel of John, more than the others, is both symbol and history, for the story is manipulated to illustrate Christ’s divinity, but also serves to culminate the previous plot line and open the new one. Chapter 11 of John tells of the threat many felt to the Jewish tradition, especially tradition bound group like the Pharisees and Sadducees, likely signified by the ‘chief priests’ of verse 47. This worry is evident when these high priests say: “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him.” Jesus’ teachings of love and acceptance, along with His snub of traditional Jewish law, made Him a target for persecution by the chief priests. His resurrection of Lazarus’ is a definitive statement of His divinity, something which caused great concern and confusion amongst the fundamentalist Pharisees. It also sets up the rest of the Gospel, moving Jesus toward fulfilling the prophecies made about His life and death. Caiaphas and the rest of the chief priests decide “?to put him to death,” (Jn 11:53) on account of His non-traditional actions and His potential treat to their positions of power.
The Gospel of John looks at God’s relationship with mankind through Jesus life and works. Jesus’ miracles, which culminate in the resurrection of Lazarus, demonstrate God’s ever present role in human life. The raising of Lazarus from the dead plays a pivotal role in John’s Gospel by demonstrating Jesus as both human and divine, making God’s intervention in human life evident. This event also serves as the end of Jesus’ public ministry, triggering the plot to execute Him. In raising Lazarus, Jesus knowingly uses God’s power to make a public display of His own divinity, ultimately leading to fulfillment of the prophecies and the greater glory of God.
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