“After He said this, He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out bound hand and foot with linen strips and with his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him and let him go.”” (John 11:43–44 HCSB)
One can scarcely imagine the thoughts of the crowd as Jesus finished his prayer to God the Father. What is he going to do? Will he walk into the tomb and touch Lazarus and raise him from the dead? Will he offer prayers for Lazarus’ soul? Anoint his body? Will he do anything?
I’m willing to bet that virtually no one thought that Jesus was just going to speak words.
“Lazarus, come out!” [or if you’re a Greek stud: Λάζαρε, δεῦρο ἔξω] Three words. Person. Command. Direction. It’s as if Jesus thinks that Lazarus really will come out, which is an amazing thing. At this point, Jesus is all in. He has had the stone rolled away. He has prayed to God the Father. He has ordered Lazarus to come out. If Lazarus doesn’t come out, Jesus looks like one of the bigger fools of his age. None of this seems to matter to Jesus. He doesn’t hesitate as if he’s unsure. He doesn’t hedge his bets just in case Lazarus doesn’t come out. He commands. He expects. He waits.
Lazarus comes out. The dead guy lives.
All it took was three words from Jesus.
This is far and away Jesus’ greatest miracle. There can be no doubt that Lazarus was dead. He had been rotting away during the course of four days. The funeral had been held. The mourners had come. Jesus speaks and everything is reversed and restored. Jesus has demonstrated his power over water, illness, wind and wave, the demon-possessed, etc., and now death. Everything on earth, it would appear, is subject to his authority, even the grave.
Did Lazarus really rise from the dead?
Do you know what the Arabs called Bethany to this day, some 2000 years after Jesus raised Lazarus? Al-Eizariya. Do you know what that means? “The Place of Lazarus.” For some reason, they named the place after him. You be the judge.