“They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
I made a startling discovery as I was waking up this morning. Lazarus. I read the Bible almost every day and I’ve read the gospels more times than I can count. How I never noticed this before is a mystery to me, nor have I ever heard anyone preach on the topic.
In the book of Luke, Jesus tells a parable to the Pharisees about a poor man named Lazarus who dies and goes to paradise. A rich man also dies and goes to the place of torment. The rich man begs for Lazarus to be able to go back and warn his brothers. But he is told he cannot : “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Then what seems to be just a very short time later, chronologically, the true story about Mary and Martha’s brother occurs (recorded in the book of John). Their brother dies and then Jesus raises him back to life. The brother’s name is Lazarus. The very same name that Jesus used in the parable just a short while before!!
And did the Pharisees believe in Jesus after witnessing this miracle? No, they did not. It was just like Jesus said! Even after seeing Lazarus raised from the dead, they didn’t believe. In fact, they said, “Here is this man (Jesus) performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him… So from that day on they plotted to take his life.”
Jesus basically prophesied Lazarus’s death and told them they would not believe, even if he were raised from the dead. Then Lazarus was raised from the dead, the Pharisees refused to believe, and Jesus’s words were proved true.
The Pharisees response is both sad and scary. Someone can have all the evidence in the world and still choose not to believe in and follow Jesus. Clearly, believing does not come from seeing enough evidence.
Believing is a choice.