THE OVERWHELMING EXTENT OF THE “STAND UP” MIRACLE
By: Frank G. Tunstall
Lazarus had been alive in the world of the spirit for four days when Jesus stood at his tomb and loudly called him by name, “Lazarus, come forth” (John 11:43). The Greek word for resurrection is anastasis, and it literally translates as to stand up. If death is the great illustration of lying down, resurrection is the far greater picture of standing up, meaning to be called by God back to life after death. Our English word, megaphone, comes from the Greek word for “loud voice,” and it communicates the booming decibels of Jesus’ shout.
Although Lazarus had died physically, he was very much alert in spirit and answered to his name (Matthew 22:32). Jesus was both Lazarus’ friend and the God who loved him with divine love, agape love. Lazarus obeyed Jesus’ call restoring him to mortal life.
Jesus loves you too, dear reader, and has promised you not just a restoration to earthly life with death to follow a second time, but that you will have eternal life with God in heaven.
The magnitude of this miracle, with each of its elements happening simultaneously, defies all rational comprehension and can only be explained as a miracle of God who is sovereign over all, including life and death. The miracle certainly proves Jesus is the Son of God and took place in a few moments, best described as seconds.
Please consider carefully the following very limited inventory of what had to happen for Jesus to stand Lazarus back up again.
According to the Neurogenetics Department at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, the human body has ninety-five to one hundred billion neurons or nerve cells. The brain alone has at least eighty-five billion of these nerve cells, with estimates going as high as one trillion. Lazarus’ brain – each of those nerve cells – had to be miraculously reactivated, so that it started sending again all of the proper messages to every part of his body, including full reinstatement of his memory.
In those same seconds Lazarus’ entire nervous system throughout his body had to come back to life, including every nerve in his body.
According to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, an adult’s body has some 100,000 miles of blood vessels. In Lazarus’ case they each were full of coagulated blood; Lazarus had not been embalmed (John 11:39). Coagulation had also been at work in the tens of thousands of cell-thin and blood-clogged capillaries, especially in his lungs but also throughout his body. Lazarus’ entire blood system had to be miraculously purified and brought back to life.
Lazarus’ lungs had to be washed clean and oxygen miraculously supplied to his lungs while his mouth and nose were wrapped in suffocating grave clothes.
Lazarus’ heart had to be rinsed and restarted with a perfect electrical rhythm. His restored-to-normal heartbeat began to pump in seconds his miraculously purified blood, sending it the equivalent of four times around the earth. Not even one was missed on the journey to every part of his body, even the microscopic parts. It all happened, each of those 100,000 miles in those very few moments.
The process was done to perfection; there was no risk of a single blood clot later.
Each of the dead cells in his body had to come back to life at the same time and start welcoming again the clean blood stream of oxygen and nutrients flowing from Lazarus’ heart and lungs.
Lazarus’ kidneys had to receive instantaneous dialysis.
Lazarus’ stomach and digestive tract had to be cleansed and made operational, without any stomach ache!
His liver had to resume normal function.
So did all of the other glands, organs and nerves in his body.
Four days had elapsed since Lazarus’ death. His body was already beginning to decay. His skin, flesh, muscles and bone structure all had to be restored.
All of this and so much more was made new inside Lazarus’ body at Jesus’ command.
A regular stream of people from around the world to this day visit the ancient tomb of Lazarus in Bethany, now a Palestinian town located two miles east of Jerusalem. Your writer has had the privilege to be one of them. Scholars of antiquity almost unanimously agree the most famous tourist site in Bethany, known as the Tomb of Lazarus, is the historical place where Jesus resurrected Lazarus.
Please let yourself be a tourist and look for the first time at those stone steps (in the picture, above) when Lazarus stood up inside the tomb. Surely your first thought will be that Lazarus’ legs, including their blood vessels, nerves and muscles had to function perfectly for him to be able, with fully restored balance and strength, to walk up those uneven and hazardous steps.
It is a huge miracle all its own that he did it at Jesus’ command, climbing those chiseled stone stairs, without a support rail, and bound in grave clothes. This feat would have surely taken a few minutes.
One is left to wonder at what point in those moments did Lazarus begin to breathe and to see. We know his face was wrapped in grave clothes when he exited the tomb, meaning he could have been blind while climbing those very dangerous steps (John 11:44). Was he able to breathe through the linen cloth, or did he begin to breath the moment the cloth was removed? What about his eyesight? In any case, what a mind-boggling miracle!
To the bystanders, those moments of waiting must have been some of history’s longest minutes! How long did the interval continue – One minute? Two? Four? Five?
Was there a skeptic in the crowd who muttered, “I don’t see a thing happening!”
Then, did someone scream out: “On my God! Oh my God! I don’t believe what I’m seeing. He’s walking out! He’s walking out!”
“The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go’” (John 11:44). Yes, Jesus manifested the power to stand Lazarus up!
I can also wonder if any of the onlookers took off running!
DNA COMES ALIVE
Three millennia ago King David wrote that every human being is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Modern science is now unveiling the psalmist’s teaching.
Ruth Eveleth at Smithsonian.com says the human body is made up of thirty-seven trillion cells, and counting. Each of these has a complete set of instructions about how to make new cells, and cell components. This set of instructions is called the human genome. Your genome is packed with at least four million gene switches residing in bits of DNA, “a treasure playing a critical role in controlling how cells, organs, and other tissues behave.”
Gina Kolata, “Bits of Mystery DNA, Far From ‘Junk,’ Play Crucial Role,” The New York Times 9-5-12];
Stephen S. Hall, “Hidden Treasures in Junk DNA,” Scientific American [9-18-12]; cited from PreachingToday.Com.
And to think this entire DNA structure came alive with four million gene switches turned back on in seconds, and Lazarus literally started standing up. Yes, the trillions of cells in Lazarus’ body obeyed Jesus’ megaphone-like shout; His three-word command.
The miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, therefore, is a flawless combination of multiple billions of smaller miracles.
It goes without saying if Lazarus’ dad and mom had been buried in the same cave, they too would have been raised if Jesus had not named only Lazarus.
The magnitude of Jesus’ miracle standing Lazarus up, or resurrecting Lazarus, was life changing to the citizens of Bethany. It is an even greater miracle to us, having knowledge of cell structures and DNA. Many people in the local area and from Jerusalem believed Jesus was God’s Son because of this miracle. Bringing the disciples and the mourners to just that conclusion was the primary reason Jesus performed the miracle, and He said as much in His prayer to His Father (John 11:41-42).
If anyone lesser than the Son of God had given this order, nothing would have happened. But Jesus gave it, and this man, Lazarus, who was dead for four days, stepped back into his mortal body, and then lived out a normal life.
For us today, the miracle is in the Bible to bring people in the twenty-first century to accept Jesus as God’s Son too. How important that we embrace the mind-boggling reality of the historical miracle that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead after four days. When we do, is it not easy and even common sense to honor Jesus as the Son of God who is the essence of both resurrection and life itself, including eternal life?
Of this I am sure. If a person refuses to believe Jesus’ miracle standing Lazarus up after four days, he will not believe in Jesus’ bodily resurrection either. Jesus’ resurrection to immortality is the heart and soul of the Christian gospel. Lazarus stood up in his old mortal body and faced death again. Jesus was raised with an immortal and incorruptible body, never to die again – a quantum greater miracle.
Jesus wept! those tears are over,
But His heart is still the same;
Kinsman, friend, and elder brother,
Is His everlasting name.
Savior, who can love like Thee,
Gracious One of Bethany.
By John R. MacDuff