Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” (John 11:47-48)
Denying The Miracles
No one denied the miracles of Jesus. The remarkable thing about how the enemies of Jesus viewed the signs He did was they could never and never did suggest a miracle did not happen. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead four days after he died, no one said the miracle of resurrection did not occur. Many of the Jewish leaders plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus. What is ironic about their plan to kill Lazarus was the acceptance that Lazarus was alive and he needed to die – again. Jesus healed a woman with an infirmity that crippled her for eighteen years, and all the ruler of the synagogue could say was that Jesus should not heal on the Sabbath. On another occasion in a synagogue, Jesus healed a man with a crippled hand. The scribes and Pharisees were enraged at Jesus and discussed what they might do to Jesus.
Raising Lazarus from the dead was a powerful demonstration of Jesus over death itself. When Jesus told the men to remove the stone from Lazarus’ tomb, Martha feared the stench of death would be unbearable. The Jewish custom was to bury a loved one on the day they died and visit the tomb for three days. On the fourth day, the body began to show external signs of decay, and the stench of death increased. The tomb would be sealed before that decaying process began and became noticeable. Martha was horrified at what her brother would be like coming out of the tomb after four days. Her fears confirmed how dead Lazarus was. Many Jews who had come to Mary and comforted her and Martha in the death of Lazarus believed in Jesus. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what had happened.
The reaction of the chief priests and the Pharisees was not excitement over the resurrection of Lazarus. They did not seek Jesus out to know what power He manifested to overcome death after four days. There was no appeal to honor God with the miracle of rebirth. The only thing the religious leaders feared was that the popularity of Jesus would overshadow their hold on the people and lose their influence; the Romans would remove them from the limited power they enjoyed. What was historically ironic about their pride was the refusal to believe they were in bondage to the Romans. The last time Israel was a united nation was when Solomon began to rule in 970 B.C. In 722 B. C., the Assyrians captured Samaria and carried off most of Israel. When the Babylonians came in 606 B. C., the long bondage of Israel began and would last until nearly forty years after Jesus died. In 70 A. B., the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and effectively ended the nation of Israel.
After the raising of Lazarus, the Jewish leaders feared Jesus would take their place among the Romans and destroy their nation. Jesus did not come to dismantle Israel. The son of God came to save men from sin and offer His blood as the means of redemption. The Jews destroyed themselves in 70 A. D. and have never been a nation again. Jesus warned them of the Roman carnage, but they would not listen. Lazarus was raised from the dead, and the chief priests and Pharisees were blinded by their own pride and arrogance, refusing to give God the glory through the signs done by Jesus. The old saying goes, “There are none so blind as those who cannot see.” Everything the world needed to find the love of God was embodied in the man from Nazareth, and the world killed Him. Israel has faded into the dust bowl of history, never to be the nation of God again. Jesus established a kingdom on Pentecost that has spread throughout the world and ruled for over two thousand years. His power and signs prove He is the Son of God. John testifies there were many other signs Jesus did in the presence of His disciples but what is written is proof that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God. You have a choice – react like the Jewish leaders who denied the power of God through Christ or accept that Jesus of Nazareth is the divine Son of God. In the final analysis, denying the miracles of Jesus does not deny the miracles but only denies the heart eternal life.