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Summary: The chief priests decided to kill Jesus and Lazarus, who had become important evidence of Jesus’ miracles. One would think that he had committed high treason! It was nothing over which he had control, and yet they considered him worthy of death.

Bethany

Plot to Kill Lazarus

John 12:9-11

9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.

10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,

11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

12.9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.

The word quickly spread that Jesus was near Jerusalem. It was no longer possible to keep His presence secret. Many of the Jews came to Bethany to see Him, and others came to see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. There are no recorded words of Lazarus in the Gospels, but his daily walk was enough to convince people that Jesus is the Son of God.

Different Public Attitudes Concerning Jesus--There was the curiosity of “the common people”; there was the murderous envy of the chief priests; and now the excited enthusiasm of the multitude. There were often, it is said, as many as three million persons at Jerusalem at Passover time.

10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also,

11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

The insane hatred of the human heart is again pictured in these verses.

The chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also.—The chief priests held a hastily summoned meeting of the Sanhedrin, where they decided to kill not only Jesus, but also Lazarus, who had become important evidence of Jesus’ miracles (see John 11:43–45). One would think that he had committed high treason by being raised from the dead! It was nothing over which he had control, and yet they considered him worthy of death.

The members of the council (Sanhedrin) applauded the advice of Caiaphas that it was expedient for the nation as a whole that Jesus should be put to death. The words of Caiaphas uttered as the reigning high priest during that memorable year in which the salvation of the world, and not of the Jewish people only, was brought about by the death of Jesus, were in the nature of unconscious prophesy. It was indeed expedient that one man should die for the people of God; and the Passover was at hand, at which this prophesy was fulfilled. Jesus was right when He called these religious leaders children of the devil, for they were indeed murderers (see Jn. 8:42-44).

Because of Lazarus, many of the Jews ... believed in Jesus.—Lazarus had become a phenomenon since Christ had raised him. However, the religious leaders wanted to kill Lazarus, because many had believed on Christ after observing what He had done for Lazarus. Lazarus was therefore an enemy to the Jewish “establishment,” and he must be done away with. Those who bring others to the Lord are always made the target for persecution and even martyrdom.

The phrase many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus indicates a conscious, deliberate move away from the religion of the authorities and a move toward genuine faith in Jesus as Messiah and the Son of God.

Some commentators suggest that because the chief priests were Sadducees, who denied the resurrection, they wanted to get rid of the evidence by destroying Lazarus. The Sadducees feared an insurrection by Jesus and His followers. Such a disruption of peace might cost them their position of power and influence. Confronted with a clearly living Lazarus, they felt their foundation of power slipping away.

John 11:43–45

43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”

44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

45 Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.

The voice of omnipotence speaks and the dead respond. Here is a picture of many Christians who are alive in Christ but are still bound by the graveclothes of the world. They cannot work because their hands are bound, they cannot walk because their feet are bound, and they cannot witness because their mouths are bound. Christ Jesus orders: Loose him. The miracle brought results, because we are told that many believed on him.

John 8:42-44

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

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