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Lazarus – John 11:1-44 May 24, 2008

Posted by Jeremy in John, Lazarus, Thoughts and Theology.

I encourage you to read John 11:1-44 before you read the rest of this post.  I’ve made several notes from this text that I have seen that I think are beneficial and not discussed much in reference to this passage (at least when I hear it referenced).

I just had a conversation with a good friend of mine concerning this passage and it got me real excited about it and I spent some time this morning meditating over John 11 and wanted to share what I saw and hopefully you are blessed as a result of my time with the Lord.

  • 2 promises are made by Jesus (vs. 4)
    • First Promise – This illness will not end in death
    • Second Promise – The Son of God will be glorified through it
    • This passage is all about the glory of Jesus Christ.  That is what John is saying here
  • connection between vs. 5 & 6
    • 5 “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”
    • John says that Jesus delayed because he loved them. Wrap you mind around that!
  • The disciples think Jesus is going to be killed by going back to Bethany.  Thomas decides to go with Jesus thinking he too will be killed with him (vs. 8, to be stoned with Jesus)
  • What Jesus says to the disciples in vs. 15 goes back to the reason for this passage…vs. 4, so that the Son of God may be glorified!  This passage is not primarily to just show that him illness will not end in death.
  • The interaction between Martha and Jesus is interesting for several reasons.
    • “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Martha’s comments express a good amount of faith but a mix of weakness.  As if Jesus must be present for a cure to happen.  He demonstrated this with the Centurion & nobleman’s son (healing without presence)
      • She believed in the power of Christ but but limits to it.
    • I really feel that based on how Martha reacts to Jesus’ comments she really has no clue 
      • I don’t believe that Martha is trying to get Jesus to raise her brother from the dead.  To this point Jesus had never done this.  I think that is why she responds to him as she does.  
      • Jesus uses this as a teaching moment – vs. 25-26, he is saying that he rules the physical bodies just as much as the spiritual bodies.
      • Martha’s answers Jesus with facts – vs. 27, not her heart.  She thinks the gospel is about information.
  • Martha sends in Mary – she refers to Jesus as a teacher, not Messiah or anything else.  To me this implies that she views Jesus as the source of information and the the living truth.  Mary says the same things Martha does.
  • Jesus was deeply moved & troubled (vs. 33-35)….he was not sad but frustrated.  He was frustrated with the unbelief of his disciples, all the people in the village, and finally with his interactions with Martha, and Mary.  It is a result of this that Jesus wept.  He is alone!  No one, not even those closest to him (Martha & Mary, disciples) have an inkling of who he is!  Everyone failed to believe in him (disciple, Mary, Martha, Jews).  Remember back to the two promises.  Jesus isn’t even at the tomb yet…he was “moved” along the road to the tomb. Jesus wept.  This is not referring to him weeping over Lazarus’s death.  A better translation is a ‘deep groan’.  Matthew Henry says this “Being displeased at the unbelief of those who spoke doubtingly of his power, and blamed him for not preventing the death of Lazarus; he wasgrieved for the hardness of their hearts. He never groaned so much for his own pains and sufferings as for the sins and follies of men, particularly Jerusalem’s, Mt. 23:37.”
  •  I really feel that the Jews response in vs. 36-37 is sarcasm….something to the effect of “it took him 4 days to get here and he is getting upset at the funeral”
  • In vs. 39 Martha can’t fathom why Jesus would want to remove the stone…this confirms what I said earlier as to her never really thinking the Jesus could raise her brother let alone ask him to do so.  Jesus’ response to Martha points right back to the two promises…He will be glorified.
  • All of what Jesus is doing is to develop there belief
  • In vs. 44….the first promise is fulfilled in raising Lazarus from the dead.
  • In vs. 45…the second promise is fulfilled in there belief. [don’t you just love poor heading breaks]

As I reflect on this passage I’m struck by the fact that they only person who responded to Jesus in this passage was Lazarus.  Jesus commanded him to come out and he did.  Jesus has the power to breathe life into rotting corpses.  I’m sad to say that I’m pretty sure my response would be right in line with Martha and Mary…how little faith we have in our Saviour!!  That hit me hard as I was reflecting on this passage.



1. brian - May 25, 2008

Jeremy, The thing I am most impacted by in this story is that saving lazarus from sickeness/death was not what moved Jesus. It was the revelation of His glory to them. Because Jesus loved them he stayed two more days until Lazarus was dead! What is more important to me, my physical well being or seeing the glory of God?

2. jeremycgreenberg - May 25, 2008

I’m blow away every time I go through this passage. I’m reminded of my selfishness. How consumed I truly am at the well being of myself and how rarely I am consumed at seeing the glory of God. May I (may we) have my thoughts and motives so centered around God that I would understand what Paul said in Philippians 1:21 “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

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