Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-44).
Until now we have learned that Jesus is the bread of life; Jesus is the water of life, Jesus is the light that shines.
We have also learned that Jesus has power over nature where in many incidents He controlled the nature.
In this chapter, we learn that Jesus gives life.
That He has power over life too!
We will also learn that Jesus moves closer to Jerusalem, anticipating His death.
So, this is a final move towards Jerusalem where He will be put to death.
However, not in the timing of people who reject Him, but according to the timing of the Father.
This story talks about Jesus bringing Lazarus to life.
In John 11:1-4, we learn:
So what is happening here?
At first there is no relation mentioned between Lazarus, Mary and Martha.
But John simply said that there was a man, named Lazarus from Bethany.
This is simply to introduce the event.
That is all, later he mentions the relationship between these three.
Bethany is where Jesus spends more time during His final weeks of His life on earth.
This place is about 2 kilometers away from Jerusalem.
So this Bethany was also the place where Mary, and her sister Martha lives.
John gives some more information, particularly about Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped His feet with her hair.
This is because the readers of John probably know this place and Mary’s family well.
Then John introduces Lazarus as her brother.
And that he was sick.
Notice here, Lazarus, at this point, was not dead yet, he was sick.
So his sisters sent a word to Jesus.
They did not ask him to “come,” probably knowing the risk of His coming to this region.
And that message they sent has this statement: “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
Most likely he was going to die soon, and so we also see the need for the sisters to send a word for Jesus, hoping that He might save Lazarus.
What was Jesus’ response?
Jesus says that Lazarus’ sickness will not end in death, but in resurrection.
And this is going to happen because - the reason or the purpose is that God would receive the glory, and the Son of God, that is, Jesus Christ would also receive the glory through this event.
This should not be understood in the sense - how can God receive glory through the death of Lazarus, but through this death, God’s glory will be revealed!
And how is God going to reveal Himself?
Through His Son Jesus Christ.
Let us look at two passages here:
John 1:14, 18
God’s revelation takes place through Jesus Christ His Son.
When the word was sent out to Jesus that Lazarus, the one Jesus loves is sick, we would normally expect Jesus leaving right away.
But Jesus’ response might seem odd to us.
However, John tells us immediately that Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus.
However, notice this.
Jesus did not go right away.
In John 11:6
Why? Simply it is not time yet for Him to go!
The Father did not tell Him to go yet.
So Jesus extended a couple of days.
It may be that this part of the text took four days to complete.
That is, the word sent to Jesus - one day, Jesus taking two more days - altogether 3 days, and another day to travel back.
In verse 17 we learn that Lazarus was dead for four days.
Why would Jesus delay?
Lazarus was not yet dead.
And it is not that Jesus wants to take responsibility for Lazarus’ death.
Jesus was about to demonstrate the He is the resurrection and life.
Now John, the writer of this Gospel already told us in 1:18, the Jesus Himself is God!
By the delay, Jesus is also going to strengthen the faith of His disciples and those that would be around during the resurrection event of Lazarus.
Then we learn:
Jesus’ Decision to Go to Judea
Again, means they were in Judea before.
So the disciples protest here - oh no, Lord.
Are you serious?
These people just tried to kill you, and you want to go back there again?
The Judean region was hostile, they were trying to kill Jesus.
Yet, Jesus says, let us go there again.
What is the purpose?
That God’s glory would be revealed.
Nothing is going to stop this from happening.
Jesus then talks about or responds to the disciples about the light in the day.
The twelve hours.
Jesus here is not only talking about the day light - one must do what he needs to do during the day, because when night comes he cannot see anything.
In the same manner, there is a deeper meaning here.
Not mystical meaning, but we should understand this in connection with Jesus teaching the people that He is the Light.
In this sense, Jesus is saying, as long as I am here I must use my time as the Father intended, because I am safe.
Nothing happens to me as long as I follow the Father’s will.
So the disciples, likewise should do the work of the Lord.
Because when darkness comes, it will be complicated for them to do the work of the Lord.
After this, Jesus tells the disciples that Lazarus was dead.
Jesus, The Resurrection and the Life
Now we learn that Jesus came to Bethany.
By the time He came, Lazarus was dead for four days.
Before he was sick, now he was dead, and that too, for four days.
Martha heard that Jesus was in town.
So she went to meet Jesus and said:
Look at Martha’s faith.
First she said it would have been otherwise if you were here Lord - my brother wouldn’t have died.
Yet I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.
What is she saying?
If you ask God, my brother would be back?
Or is she simply recognizing the intimate relationship that Jesus has with His Father?
I think the second one is right.
However, verse 39 tells us that Martha thinks it is not possible for Lazarus to come back because his body stinks.
What was Martha thinking?
Yes, she was right, that the resurrection will take place on the last day.
This is what Judaism believes about resurrection.
However, Jesus was not talking about the last day resurrection, He was talking about immediate resurrection!
In John 11:25-26
Martha, you are right in saying that the resurrection takes place on the last day (5:21, and 6:39-40)
But Jesus is not talking about this last day resurrection.