John offers more to us about the “funeral” of Lazarus than just his resurrection (though who would wish to minimize the significance of that?). He tells us about two different responses people had to this great miracle of Jesus. One reaction is not surprising; but the other is as disappointing as it is difficult to comprehend.
The obvious response is given in v. 45, where we’re told, “Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.” This is exactly what we’d expect and John records this truth in keeping with the overall purpose of his writing (20:30-31). Later he informs us that, “the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word” (12:17). In fact, their witness is so powerful that the Pharisees lament that “the whole world has gone after Him!” (12:19).
The other response is provided in v. 46, where we read, “But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.” So the reaction of some who had come from Jerusalem to the funeral was to immediately go find the Pharisees and tattle on Jesus. Over two thousand years later, this is still amazing.
When George Orwell was looking for a publisher for Animal Farm, one company rejected the work saying, “There is no market for animal stories.” Four musicians auditioned for Decca records in the early sixties but weren’t offered a recording contract because “guitar groups are on the way out.” Apple Records signed John, Paul, George, and Ringo and the rest is history. L. Frank Baum was told his book was “too radical of a departure from traditional juvenile literature.” Eventually he did manage to find a publisher for his book, The Wizard of Oz.
All of these executives who rejected these works missed it big time—but none of them missed it as badly as those who watched Jesus bring Lazarus back from the dead and rushed off to tell the Pharisees. There is something so radically wrong about this that we don’t want to believe it although we know it is part of the historical record. It’s an action that defies explanation. It’s much easier to accept the miracles of Jesus than the stubborn unbelief of certain people. There’s a darkness to their motivations and deeds that is impenetrable.
John would have us to see it as a self-imposed blindness (John 9:39-41). This inability to see is not the result of some physiological disorder. Neither is the truth to be apprehended obscure or unclear. The fault lies in the heart and its unwillingness to embrace the behavior that belief mandates—unconditional surrender (John 7:17, 12:24-26). Because of this unwillingness to practice the truth, none is seen. John’s gospel is unequivocal: if believing leads to light and life, rebellion leads to darkness and death! There is none so blind as he who will not see—God convinces no one against their will!