We know that this miracle was observed by many people. As well as Mary and Martha, the people who had gone to mourn with the sisters had followed Mary v31. Jesus would have had his disciples and followers with him too. It was a public miracle.
Jesus had said that it was for God’s glory that Lazarus was sick, and that he himself would be glorified as a result. This message seems to have got back to Mary and Martha, possibly by the same person or people who carried their message to Jesus in the first place, because he now says, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?’
Jesus first prayed a prayer of thanks to his Father, expressing the intimacy of their relationship and showing the regularity of his prayers to him. He also made particular reference in his prayer to the fact that it was a public prayer, heard by the people standing around. He prayed that they would believe that God had sent him and that his power came from God. Notice how Jesus sought the glory of his Father.
The miracle of the raising of Lazarus shows Jesus’ divine power, an aspect of his glory. John says later that these things are written that we may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God (20:31). After four days in the tomb the raising of Lazarus back to life again was a mighty miracle indeed. Jesus’ words to Martha must have rung in her ears, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
Of course Lazarus was raised back to this life. One day he would die again. Mary and Martha, if they survived him, would have to go through the grieving and mourning all over again. Jesus loved this family and would give them the strength to cope with it.
I love an inscription on a wall in St Martin’s Church, Cwmyoy, Abergavenny.
‘Thomas Price, he takes his nap, in our common mother’s lap, waiting to heare the bridegroome say, awake my dear and come a way.’ 1682
Like Thomas we look forward to the trumpet call, the return of Christ, the resurrection from the dead, to our new bodies and to His presence for evermore.