"Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come 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 11:42-43)

 

I've heard it said that had Jesus not called Lazarus by name, so powerful was His authority over death, that every dead man, woman, and child within the area would have walked out of their graves.

 

These verses, along with countless others, prove that Jesus had authority and power over both life and death.

 

The Angels Await His Voice

 

When Jesus had spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness and was in the midst of The Temptation, Satan took Him to the highest point of the temple in Jerusalem, saying to Him, "If you are the Son of God...throw yourself down. For it is written:  'He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' "

 

Crafty Satan was quoting from Psalm 91:11. He knew the truth...do you? The Heavenly Host awaits the sound of Jesus' voice, to do His bidding, to fulfill His wishes.

 

Do you remember the old hymn that went like this: He could have called ten thousand angels, to destroy the world and set Him free. He could have called ten thousand angels, but He died alone for you and me? Have you ever sung those words? Do you believe them?

 

Understanding the Setting

 

The Jews had been under Roman rule during a time known as Pax Romana-the peace of Rome. This period followed after a short time of independence and about a hundred years after the Greeks ruled over Judea (331-167 BC). Then, in 63 BC, Palestine was conquered by the Romans under the leadership of Pompey, who appointed Antipater to rule over Judea. Antipater was followed by his son Herod the Great...and so on and so forth. (We won't get into a history lesson here.)

 

Though the Romans had the rule, Herod the Great-who was ruthless by anyone's standards-sought to appease his Jewish subjects by having their temple rebuilt and worship there reestablished.

 

The Sanhedrin was the recognized religious headship of the Jewish people. It was comprised of Pharisees, Sadducees, priests, scribes, and elders and was presided over by the High Priest. Pharisees were pious Jews who became so "righteous" they became "self-righteous," making rules with boundaries no man could live within, least of all themselves. The priestly Sadducees had adopted Greek customs (to the horror of the Pharisees) during the Greek period. Though religious, they were far removed from religion. Still, they were wealthy, power-packed in influence, and had control over the Sanhedrin.