The Death of Lazarus
11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
I Am the Resurrection and the Life
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.
Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
John 11 Commentary
by Hank Workman
Jesus delayed. He knew of the situation with Lazarus and purposely waited to go help. The reactions were expected: His disciples were a bit confused. Martha tried to put her brother’s death in perspective but struggled. Mary was accusatory. Jesus Himself wept.
The miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead shows our human response to the movement or perceived lack of from God. All of this would, however, point toward a far greater glory of who Jesus was, the power He had, the compassion that hurt His heart and His using others to be part of the process of delivery.
Consider: He asked some to roll the stone away. Against belief and the sheer reality of the decomposing body of Lazarus, they were asked to roll open the grave. When Lazarus was called out, he was bound in grave clothes, specifically, his hands, feet, and face are mentioned. He called the disciples to take these clothes off and set him free. I think this is significant. He was looking for others cooperation in the deliverance of Lazarus.
“I see dead people,” as the famous line from the movie Sixth Sense goes. And we are surrounded by the spiritually dead. It is the Spirit of Christ that awakens these from their slumber. It is nothing we ourselves can do to make such a resurrection take place. We cannot bring a warmth to their heart or purpose to their ways. Only Christ can do this. But, and this is a very large but, He uses us to be part of the process of delivery when He has called them from the darkness to His light.
Being the hands and feet of Jesus in this broken, dead world – He commissions us, again and again, to get involved and help them be set free. I think it’s notable to also consider, the disciples were not commissioned to put new clothes on him. It is Christ who clothes us in righteousness, who gives us new robes. We cannot do anything of the like or even have the resources to do so. We are simply called in some circumstances to step beyond the belief we have as to what that outcome may be and help others. We are called to set aside our struggle or accusations and trust Him for a greater outcome of His glory.
John 11 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
So much irony! The reasoning of the religious leaders is astounding.
- “Let’s kill the man who is actively doing mighty works in the Name of God…”
- “Let’s kill the man who has just proven He can raise people from the dead…”
- “Let’s kill the man who has just told us He is the resurrection and the life…”
- “Let’s kill the man who has continually rejected politics because He seems to be leading a political revolt…”
Come on, guys. Tell us the real reason you want to kill Jesus?
So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do since this man does many signs?John 11:47 HCSB
Isn’t it amazing what lengths our depraved hearts will go to in order to protect what we cherish? I will credit the religious leaders with this; they did evaluate Jesus’ works just as He had asked them to do in John 10. But instead of seeing them as ordained by God, they saw them as a direct threat to their own rule and authority. I tend to think they were jealous. In the past several chapters we have read that people were coming to believe at a rapid pace. The raising of Lazarus was the icing on the cake. Just like today, people were in an uproar over Jesus; they either loved Him or hated Him.
But the ultimate irony of this situation is found in the “decision” made that day to end the life of Jesus. The religious leaders thought they were taking matters into their own hands. They thought they were in control. They actually believed (in an incredibly distorted way) that they were doing what was best for the nation. On the surface, it seemed like they were in control.
In hindsight, we can see that God was an eternity ahead of them. Their hardness of heart played right into His master plan to eradicate sin and death. How could the greatest act of injustice become the greatest act of redemption? Only with God.
On a much smaller scale, we are faced with these situations every day. Will we believe and trust that evil, suffering, and injustice are being worked out for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose? Will we believe that man has total control or that God does? How does this chapter of John affect our daily lives? Only you can answer that question.