John 11:28-44 : Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see God’s glory?” So they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank you that you listened to me. I know that you always listen to me, but because of the multitude that stands around I said this, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” He who was dead came out, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Free him, and let him go.”
This is the primary sign of the authority of Jesus. He raises the dead. I think that a believing Jew would not have any questions about Jesus after witnessing this event. In the Old Testament, the dead were raised by God’s true prophets. Here’s what the Bible says about Elijah, a great prophet from long before Jesus time:
1 Kings 17:17-24 : It happened after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so severe, that there was no breath left in him. She said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, you man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to memory, and to kill my son!” He said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into the room where he stayed, and laid him on his own bed. He cried to Yahweh, and said, “Yahweh my God, have you also brought evil on the widow with whom I stay, by killing her son?” He stretched himself on the child three times, and cried to Yahweh, and said, “Yahweh my God, please let this child’s soul come into him again.” Yahweh listened to the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the room into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Elijah said, “Behold, your son lives.” The woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of Yahweh in your mouth is truth.”
The resurrection of the child was evidence that Elijah was from God. Jesus was also making it clear that that He was from God. Over and over, Jesus is saying in many different ways that He is truly from God and is God. What else can Jesus do to get our attention? Could raising the dead be insufficient? Some atheists claim that God has not done enough to reveal Himself. I think He has given us more than enough evidence.
Jesus raised the dead on other occasions as well. In Luke 8:50-55, He is recorded as having raised a girl from the dead. Again, he spoke of death as sleep.
Another interesting thing that Jesus does on both occasions is to remind people to start taking care of the resurrected one. In Lazarus’ case, Jesus says to get Him out of the cloth he was wrapped up in. I am thinking that the people were so amazed that they forgot that Lazarus was a real person and needed to get out! In the case where He raised the girl from the dead, He told them to give her food. I think that God loves the physical things and the spiritual things and He wants to see them both functioning well. He is not in opposition to the physical world, or one who thinks that all physical things are evil. He made the physical world and still cares about it. He cares enough about it to raise the dead.