The Scriptures covered in this post are from the Gospel of John Chapter 11. This is probably one of the most profound portions of Scripture in the whole Bible. I know this post is long but the significance of this chapter precludes it from being broken up. I am not going to quote all of Chapter 11 because it is too long but I would ask that you read all of John Chapter 11 before reading this post.
In order to appreciate what the Apostle John tells us in Chapter 11, one needs to be mindful of what part of the ministry of Jesus that we are in, and what has just recently transpired. Remember that for the better part of three years Jesus had been going throughout Judea, preaching the Good News of the Kingdom of God, indicating that He is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. During this time Jesus was also healing people from all of their diseases and ailments. Then, just recently, in Jerusalem, Jesus had healed a man who was blind from birth. This was truly significant and had never been done before by anyone, ever. One could say that when Jesus healed this man from his blindness, the level and significance of His healing signs took on a heightened sense of authenticity and the opposition that Jesus faced from the Chief Jews (scribes and Pharisees) was turned up a notch.
And it is after Jesus heals the man in Jerusalem from blindness from his birth, that John tells us what happened next as it relates to Lazarus.
John 11:1-3 tells us that Lazarus is the brother of Mary and Martha. And because of the increasing opposition that Jesus had recently caused, by indicating that He is the Messiah, the Son of God and equal to God, the scribes and Pharisees had wanted to stone Jesus. So Jesus had departed the Jerusalem area and gone to beyond the Jorden, where John the Baptist had originally baptized, just beyond Bethany, the place where Mary, Martha and Lazarus actually lived. Bethany was a relatively small village on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem. John 10:40 tells us that Jesus had gone back to the place where John was first baptizing and that He was staying there. John 1:28 gives us the particulars on this location.
John 11:4-6 tells us that when Jesus is told that Lazarus is sick, Jesus indicates that this sickness will NOT lead to his death but rather, the reason behind this happening is that the glory and honour of God might be demonstrated via the Son of God and Jesus is subsequently glorified by it. For lack of better words, what is about to be demonstrated is truly significant and validates who Jesus is. Note that in John 11:5 John states that Jesus loved and was concerned about Mary, Martha and Lazarus but that Jesus did NOT leave where He was for an additional two days (John 11:6). One might ask why and the reason is pretty clear. There was to be no controversy regarding that Lazarus had died. No one who was present, including the Jews who mourned with Mary and Martha had any doubt whatsoever that Lazarus had indeed died. Consequently that extra two days that Jesus delayed going towards Bethany was obviously deliberate.
In John 11:7-10 we have the discourse where Jesus says to His disciples, “Let us go back to Judea” and their questioning Him because of the potential of Jesus being stoned. Verses 9 and 10 reiterate what Jesus has already said previously in John 8:12 and I take this as Jesus saying that He knows exactly what He is doing or in other words, this is not a random or unconsidered decision I am making. Jesus is the light of the world and as such, Jesus, through the Father, is about to authenticate and declare a GREAT TRUTH yet once again.
John 11:11-14 provides the exchange between Jesus and His disciples on the actual status of Lazarus. Note that in John 11:15 Jesus reiterates that He is glad for their sake that He was not there when Lazarus died and in particular “so that you may believe”. And Jesus concludes “But let us go to him”.
John 11:16-19 covers what Thomas says about going with Jesus, even if they may also be stoned. Note that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days when they approached Bethany and that there were many Jews also there who had come to comfort Mary and Martha.
John 11:20-24 covers Martha meeting Jesus before Jesus arrives at their home and how Martha says that had Jesus been there when Lazarus had gotten sick, Lazarus would not have died. Martha also states her belief that whatever Jesus asks of God, God will give it to Him. When Martha speaks of God here she speaks of God the Father. Martha understood the relationship because she clarifies it later in John 11:27. Jesus tells Martha that Lazarus will rise and Martha acknowledges that she knows her brother will rise in the resurrection on the last day.
John 11:25-26 is the whole point of why Lazarus died and how God used his physical death to declare a truth that Jesus wants us all to know, understand and believe.
“Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; the one who believes in Me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!
I AM THE RESURRECTION AND THE LIFE!
This is precisely what Jesus wants us all to know. Raising someone from the dead is nothing compared to this truth Jesus demonstrates loud and clear. Note the “even if he dies” And this is all timed, just prior to His own crucification. If this doesn’t scream out to us all who Jesus is, what else possibly could? Lazarus has been dead four days in the tomb. No air conditioning here, this is the Middle East we’re talking about. FOUR DAYS. Are you getting a picture of what would have happened to Lazarus’s body in those four days? We’re talking “not pretty”! And Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life!” There may be a number of things about God that I don’t thoroughly understand but this is not one of them. I get this.
And what does Martha say to Jesus in John 11:27?
“She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have come to believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, and He who comes into the world.”
Did Martha understand? I’m thinking she did and Martha is not alone.
John 11:28-33 covers what transpired when Mary meets Jesus, falls at His feet and speaks to Him. John tells us that Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. John 11:34 tells us that Jesus asks them where they have laid Lazarus and in John 11:35 that Jesus wept. I know John tells us that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and Lazarus but I don’t think He was weeping for them because of their sorrow. He knew that Lazarus would be back among them soon. I think He was weeping because we all fail to grasp the life that is available in and through Him. That we don’t really comprehend who He is and the grace and love that is in His message and sacrifice. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16. But I could be wrong.
John 11:36-40 covers comments from the Jews who were there, how Jesus loved Lazarus, how Jesus had healed a blind man and how Jesus could have kept Lazarus from possibly dying. Jesus tells them to take away the stone and Martha reminds Jesus that Lazarus has been in there for four days. And Jesus reminds her that if she believed she would see the glory of God. Who had the greater awareness?
John 11:41-43 is truly noteworthy. The stone is rolled away and Jesus prays to His and our Father. “So they removed the stone. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. But I knew that You always hear Me; nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” And when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”
“… nevertheless, because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me” This is raising someone who has been dead for four days and buried in a hot tomb. This is about a body that is already in the process of decomposing. This is about the reality that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. This is the Father glorifying the Son. This is the Son glorifying the Father, just prior to His own death and resurrection.
John 11:44-46 covers Lazarus coming out of the tomb, how some believed and some went back and told the Pharisees what had happened.
John 11:47-57 covers the Chief Priests and Pharisees convening a council to deal with the newest escalation of signs, that undoubtedly turns the pressure up an additional notch yet once again. Verses 48-50 are insightful. Notice their focus on losing their authority over the people, how the Romans could take away their temple and nation and how it would be expedient and politically advantageous for one man to die for the people so that the whole nation not perish. Hard to imagine? Not really. Power and authority can and does frequently corrupt. Modern politics isn’t that far off the mark. Verse 51 links what the High Priest said to a prophecy in Isaiah 53:1-12 with 53:8 noted in particular. Verse 52 also connects a prophecy as found in Isaiah 49:6 that foretells how Jesus would not only die for His nation but also for the purpose of gathering together onto one body the children of God who have been scattered abroad, including the Gentile nations and Verse 53 notes that from that day on they planned together to kill Jesus. Verse 54 notes that Jesus and His disciples left the immediate area and went to a town called Ephraim and stayed there. And finally as the Passover approaches, the stage is set for the coming trial and crucification of Jesus.
More to follow.
Links to the previous posts to the “Musings From the Gospel of John” can be found here.
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!