By Carrie McFarland
“The large crowd of the Jews then learned that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He raised from the dead. But the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death also; because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and were believing Jesus.”
Here in John chapter 9 we know that Jesus, after his arrival into Jerusalem, still preferred to reside outside the city in Bethany. The crowds following him were continuously growing in size. As we see in verse 9, Jesus could not get away from the crowds. They were set on finding Him. Not only Him, but now this man that He raised from the dead. Lazarus was put in the spotlight, whether he liked it or not. The Jews had to see for themselves – the man that was raised from the dead and the Man who raised him. Could it be true?
Now the priests had a new target, Lazarus. Lazarus was a walking miracle, a moving testimony of the sheer power of the words of Jesus Christ. On this account the Jews were recognizing their Messiah! The priests saw Lazarus as a threat to their power had to put Lazarus on their list of people to be removed.
The NASB translation says in v. 9 that “they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus.” This is interesting, and could be a point that we look on the crowd with condemnation. Was Lazarus now added to the traveling miracle show? Yes, he was. Wouldn’t you want to see a man that was once dead but is now alive, in person? I would.
John mentions this, I think, to emphasize that the Jews were recognizing the power of the resurrection. John is giving us a little taste of the wonder from the Jews and the indignation of the priests to emphasize what the reactions from both side will be like once Jesus raises Himself from the dead.
As we look at the crowds following Jesus we see there is no ambivalence. John distinguishes each group with their set of paralleling beliefs about Jesus. It is a great example of Jesus’ own words in Revelation 3 v. 16 “So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”
One group of people was drawn to Jesus so much that they would track Him down, and the other was enraged with plots to kill Him. This Holy Week, let’s be like the crowd that flocked to Jesus. To see Him, to see the work of His hands. Let us be so curious about the resurrection and power of our Savior that the things of this world (Pandemic and all) would grow strangely dim as we bask in the light of His glory and grace.