Text: John 11
Event(s): The death and resurrection of Lazarus; Jesus, The Resurrection and the Life; The plot to kill Jesus
John 11:2 “It was that Mary who anointed the Lord” Since we’re reading through the Gospels chronologically, this event actually hasn’t taken place yet. But the Gospel of John was written years later, towards the end of the Apostle John’s life. So here, he’s looking back and recounting the events. Mary, as we’ll read later (Matthew 26:7), anointed Jesus the Tuesday before His crucifixion. With today’s passage, we’re still in the Winter before.
John 11:4 “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God…” As in the case with the man born blind from birth, here we have another scenario where circumstances are not as they appear. In this Gospel, God’s “glory” is usually a reference to His self- revelation, rather than the praise that comes to Him from others.
John 11:5 “Now Jesus loved (agape) Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” When the sisters first called for Jesus, (vs 3) they appealed to His love (phileo) for Lazarus. Phileo is a term used to describe the love of a friend. But here John, just to make it clear, dispels any doubt about Jesus’ deep true love (agape) for this family.
John 11:9-10 “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble” Jesus intentionally delayed His visit until He knew it was time. This further emphasizes the point we’ve already seen so often throughout the Gospels that Jesus was always in step with His Father’s will. Here, when he refers to the hours of the day and the night, He is speaking metaphorically. Hours obviously speak of timing. The daylight hours represented walking in the light of His Father’s will. (Proverbs 4:18) Jesus knew that safety came with abiding in the Father’s timing even when there were death threats against Him.
John 11:16 “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” Him, meaning Jesus, (as indicated by the capital H in most translations), not Lazarus. I like how the MSG Bible renders this verse, “…Come along. We might as well die with Him.” What faith and boldness!
John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life…” Jesus was trying to get Martha to focus on what really mattered: the miracle-giver instead of the miracle itself. I love that even in her weakness and grief, she was still able to confess who Jesus was to her. (vs 27)
John 11:32 “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” These are the only words of Mary ever recorded in the Gospels. Throughout, we find her three times, and each time, she is at Jesus’ feet. Once, she is listening to Him teach (Luke 10:39), here, in John, she is grieving and pouring out her sorrow. And in John 12:3, she is anointing Jesus, worshipping and praising Him and unbeknownst to her, preparing Him for His burial.
I love how Arthur Pink, a famous theologian, noticed that in Luke 10, Mary owned Jesus as Prophet, as she heard His word and teachings. Here in John 11 she recognized Him as her High Priest who shares our sorrows (Hebrews 4:15). And in John 12, she acknowledged Him as King.
John 11:33 “He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” The words used here describe a condition of deep, emotional trouble, mixed with anger. Why was Jesus angry? Because He could visibly see the effects of death on mankind as well as the effect it has on loved ones who are left behind. He knew the cause of it all was ultimately sin, and He hated it. In vs 35, His tears are not because of Lazarus being dead – He was about to raise Him from the dead. But He was moved with compassion and empathy for the great pain and grief of the loved ones. I’ll never forget being at a funeral one time, several years ago. I had not ever personally met the man who died, but I attended out of respect and love for the family. Nonetheless, I was moved with tears as I empathized with their grief.
Today’s Takeaway: In reading through the Gospels chronologically, we have read about three instances in which Jesus resurrected a dead person. In Mark 5, on Day 30, we read about Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter to life. She had only just died. In Luke 7, on Day 22, we read about Jesus raising to life the son of the widow who lived in Nain. He had just been buried. Lazarus, however, had been dead, buried, and his body was beginning to decompose. Nothing is too far beyond His reach, but it takes great faith to allow God to “roll away the stone” of the dreams, hopes and promises we may have buried long ago.
Additional (optional) reading: The event(s) in today’s text are unique to the Gospel of John. However, I recommend reading Job 14:7-9, at the very scent of water what appears to be gone can spring back to life.