Thursday, March 21, 2013

John 11 - The Resurrection and the Life

LINK: John 11


The Seventh Sign: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead 

The Fifth "I AM" Statement: I am the resurrection and the life

165. Lazarus becomes ill and dies: John 11:1-16

We are in the last few months of Jesus' ministry around A.D. 30. Jesus has been teaching about the kingdom and telling parables "beyond the Jordan where John was first baptizing" (John 10:40). It is believed this was Bethabara ("house of the ford") on the east bank of the Jordan, which is about twenty miles from Bethany in Perea. (It may be the ancient Bethbarah from Judges 7:24.). Bethany was on the east side of the Mount of Olives (see map above). 

Lazarus was a prominent friend of Jesus and is not to be confused with Lazarus the Beggar in Luke 16:19-31. John tells us that Mary is the one who poured perfume on Jesus' feet. She is not the "sinful woman" of Luke 7:36-52. He is telling us of a future event that will occur in John 12:1-10 when she anoints Him in anticipation of His burial. 

Jesus waited two days. He knew His friend (John 15:13-14; James 2:23), Lazarus, was already dead (11:11, 39) anyway. Jesus says "sleep" but this means dead. He needed to perform a sign (attesting miracle) so that others would believe (11:15) and God would be glorified (11:4). Remember sign and believe are both key words in the book of John.

It is interesting to note that Thomas was the forerunner in showing commitment to Christ here when he will later be doubting (John 20:24-25).

166. Jesus comforts Mary and Martha: John 11:17-37

There were many people at Bethany because it was only two miles away from Jerusalem, and it was traditional to mourn the dead and comfort the grieving family. 

Martha is the doer, and Mary is the contemplative personality. Note how this plays out in this passage as it did in Luke 10:39-42. Her statement in 11:21-22, really is a declaration of her faith in Jesus rather than a criticism for Him being late. Martha believes that Lazarus will be resurrected in the last day, but Jesus makes the fifth "I AM" statement: "I am the Resurrection and the Life." We may die a physical death, but when we believe in Him, we will never die spiritually. Note Martha's awesome statement of faith in 11:27: You are the Christ ("Messiah"), the Son of God (title for Messiah). Martha gets such a bad rap because of Luke 10:39-42, but this proves she does not deserve it! In contrast, Mary, again, falls at Jesus' feet (John 11:32, 12:3, Luke 10:39) and expresses her sincere but limited faith.  

Here is a little Wesley hymn that encapsulates the balance of Martha and Mary:
Faithful to my Lord’s commands, 
I still would choose the better part: 
Serve with careful Martha’s hands 
And loving Mary’s heart.  
(The Bible Exposition Commentary, Jn 11:17)
Jesus shows His emotion which is in direct contrast to the Greek concept of God that was vogue at the time. The Greek gods were apathetic and lacked emotions. They had no messy involvement in the lives of humans. There is much debate about what "deeply moved" and "troubled" Him in 11:33. Some believe it means He was "angry" because He was either troubled at their unbelief or angry at Satan. Others believe He was expressing His love and compassion. Isaiah 53:3 states He is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." So, I prefer the latter. This is also seen in 11:35. "Jesus wept" is better rendered from the Greek as "shed silent tears" in contrast to the loud wailing of the mourners. 

167. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead: John 11:38-44

Supposedly Lazaurus' tomb in Israel. 
This was originally posted to Flickr by Marion Doss at
However you interpret "deeply moved," we know that Jesus performed this seventh sign (attesting miracle) so that others may believe. At the word of Jesus, Lazarus came forth from the grave (John 5:28, 10:16, 27). Lazarus would go on to be a living witness of the power of Jesus (John 12:9-11).

168. Religious leaders plot to kill Jesus: John 11:45-57

The response to this miracle was mixed. Many believed and also testified about Him (John 12:17-18), but others went to Pharisees and religious leaders to "report" Him. The Jewish council (Sanhedrin) wanted to keep their power. A Jewish insurrection would be crushed by the Romans, and they knew that they would lose something in the process. They did not understand that Jesus wanted to start a revolution of the heart.

Caiaphas, was a Sadducee (Acts 23:6-10), but Jesus united the Pharisees and Sadducees together in a common cause: kill Him. Little did they know that they were fulfilling prophecy by doing this (Isaiah 53:8) and fulfilling God's plan for the world to know Him (John 4:42, 10:16; Acts 2:23, Ephesians 2:14-18; 3:6).

After this, Jesus went with His disciples to Ephraim (fifteen miles north of Jerusalem) for more healing, teaching, and saving that are recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

John 11 reveals the deity of Jesus Christ and the utter depravity of the human heart. The rich man in hades had argued, “If one went unto them from the dead, they will repent” (Luke 16:30). Lazarus came back from the dead, and the officials wanted to kill him! Miracles certainly reveal the power of God, but of themselves they cannot communicate the grace of God. (The Bible Exposition Commentary, Jn 11:41)

What would I have done if I were there at the raising of Lazarus? I would like to think that I would have believed in Jesus rather than reported Him to the Pharisees.

As I meditated on this chapter, my mind went back to September 1969, when I went to a camp where we sang, 

"I am the Resurrection, and the Life 
(clap, clap, clap, clap). 
He who believes in Me will live a new life."  

I had never really understood who this "Lord Jesus" guy was until, later that weekend; I had a vision of Jesus waving His hand to come to Him. It was God's little sign (attesting miracle) for a 10 year old girl who had been searching for a meaning to life for four years (I was an old soul).

I believed, and it was the beginning of my resurrection to new life that weekend, and the vision was as real and sure as Lazarus being raised from the dead.


Is Jesus your Resurrection and Life? Talk to Him about that right now. 

Try the Loyola Method of meditation on this chapter. 


We believe in You, Jesus. Amen. 
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