The Death of Lazarus
Jesus had been teaching in the villages beyond the Jordan, probably in Perea, which is just north of the Dead Sea. The disciples of Jesus and John the Baptist had at one time baptized in this place.
John 11:1-44 - Bible Study:
Verse 1: "Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha."
The Village of Bethany
was close to Jerusalem, and about 20 miles or so from Perea where Jesus
was teaching when He received the message that Lazarus was ill.
Verse 2-3: "It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill (Matt 26:7-13). 3So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."
Lazarus began to grow very sick, so his sisters, Mary and Martha, having seen Jesus perform miracles, had sent for Him.
During that time praying for the sick was a
religious obligation, or duty, but the main reason Mary and Martha sent
for Jesus was that they knew He had healing power.
Verse 4: "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."
The purpose of the sickness was not death but to bring glory to Jesus,
the Son of God. As we have seen, John prefers to note Jesus miracles as,
"signs" and works that glorify God. In this case, the glory of God is
more significant than the sickness.
Verses 5-7: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So, when he heard that Lazarus[a] was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again."This illness does not lead to death "
Jesus loved this family, and stayed with them quite often; even so, He did not go immediately but waited two more days.
This study of the Gospel of John has shown some excellent examples of God's perfect timing, (especially relating to His delays). Many times, when our prayers seem to go unanswered, it's because the plans He has for us have a predetermined schedule.
In speaking of Judea, He was discussing Bethany, about a day's journey of 20 miles. He plainly tells His disciples, "This illness does not lead to death."
By this time in Jesus ministry, the disciples had seen Jesus perform some miracles; including, the water being turned to wine,
miraculously feeding five thousand people, walking on water, restoring
sight to the blind. Even so, it is doubtful they were ready for what was
Verse 8: "The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?"
Jesus had narrowly escaped being stoned by the people in Judea. The disciples
were concerned and astonished that He intended to return.
Verses 9-10: "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. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
The hours of day or night, are not affected by circumstances and are to be used when available. Jesus' time had not yet come, and he was making use of every hour.
Day and Night
Both the Jews and the Romans had a rather strange method of dividing the hours of daylight into twelve. Not all hours were precisely sixty minutes and would vary in length according to the time of year.
Light and Darkness
knowledge of God's will: Night the absence of his knowledge.
When we move ahead without His light/guidance, we are in the Dark, and likely to stumble.
Verses 11-15: "After saying these things, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him." 12The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus has died, 15and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
"To be asleep" was a common metaphor for death in Jewish texts, but the disciples interpreted Jesus' words literally, and tried to
persuade Him not to go.
Verse 16: "So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
Thomas, also known as "Doubting Thomas," takes the lead, and says, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." (He does not seem to be doubting here).
The disciples knew the danger of going and yet went with Him. We must also remember that there can be a high cost of being a disciple of Jesus.
If Jesus had been there at his death, or during the final moments, He might have healed him instead of letting him die. Lazarus was allowed to die so that Jesus' power over death could be made known.
The resurrection from the dead is a fundamental belief of the Christian faith; so, a demonstration was essential.
I Am the Resurrection and the Life:
Verse 17: "Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother."
Lazarus was buried on the same day of his death, and he had
been dead four days.
It was the Jewish community's essential duty to comfort the mourners, and the neighbors were expected to provide the first meal after the funeral.
When Jesus arrived, "many" friends and neighbors were there consoling Martha and Mary over the death of Lazarus.
The city of Bethany was close to Jerusalem, which was a much larger city, which could account for why so many people were present.
Verse 20: "So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house."
The "mourning time" among the Jewish community, extended for a full year:
Some think the reason Martha went out to meet Jesus, while Mary
stayed inside, was merely a personality difference; (Martha was out-going; Mary was perhaps, more reserved).
However, with no Scriptural support, this can only be supposition.
Apparently, messengers had met Jesus on the outskirts of Bethany and informed Him that Lazarus had died four days earlier; which confirms
Jesus' statement to His disciples, that Lazarus was
Martha went to meet Him, and their conversation is considered to be the most theological of the entire incident.
Theological Discussion between Jesus and Martha
Verses 21-22: "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."
"Martha said that Jesus
could have prevented Lazarus' death, which shows very intense faith.
However, she demonstrates an even deeper faith, when she said, "But even now, I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."
Verse 23-24: "Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day."
Not only would Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead in the present time; but
also, with all Believers, in the
Verse 25: "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,"
This is the fifth of the great, "I AM's," as He declares with all authority, "I AM God," the One with no beginning and no end, the "Resurrection and the Life!"
Verse 26-27: "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."
Jesus said, "anyone who lives and believes in me shall never die,"
When we ask Christ into our lives we are born again, and, although our body eventually wears out and dies, we, as Children of God, do not die, we simply go where He is and continue to live.
"We shall never die." We will live with Jesus forever, in a place so glorious, that when some of our most prominent prophets were allowed a glimpse, they were not allowed to describe its beauty.
When Jesus returns at the second coming, we will receive glorified bodies that will live forever.
Jesus asked Martha, "Do you believe this?
Her answer was as deep and meaningful as any Peter
ever made, "Yes, you are the Christ, the Son of God." (and this was
before He raised Lazarus from the dead).
Jesus Weeps, Discusses His Death,
And Reveals the Last Enemy:
Verse 28-29: "When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying in private, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him."
Martha went in private to Mary that Jesus had arrived
and wanted to talk to her, and, "She rose quickly and went
Verses 30-31: "Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31When 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."
Verse 32: "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."
She fell at his feet, saying, "Lord, if you had been
here," which was the same thing Martha had said. Mary is
portrayed as being even more emotional than Martha, with the mourners
consoling, and following her to the tomb.
Verses 33-37: "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. 34And he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?"
Jesus, "God the Son," after seeing Mary weep, was "deeply
moved in His Spirit and greatly troubled."
This contrasts with the concept of God that was popular in that day - (a God with no emotions and no messy involvement with humans).
Jesus experienced compassion, indignation, sorrow, frustration, and tears. These emotions have been expressed by thirty-eight various translators, as anger.
The Jews were divided in their opinions:
When Jesus wept, some were touched by His compassion and love; others wondered why, if he had opened the eyes of the blind, He couldn't have kept Lazarus from dying.
Jesus Raises Lazarus
Verses 38: "Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
The expression, "deeply moved again," in the (ESV), is translated elsewhere, as "groaning;" In Mark 14:5, it is used to express "anger"; and in John 11:33, to indicate, "deep feelings."
Tombs in that time were usually caves, carved in the limestone
rock of a hillside, and were often large enough for people to walk
inside. It was not unusual for several bodies to be placed in one tomb.
The tomb remained sealed by a large stone, rolled across the
Verse 39: "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."
Four days had passed since Lazarus' death, and with decomposition surely underway, Martha became upset when Jesus ordered the stone to be rolled away.
In that day bodies were typically wrapped and left lying on the floor. A year later family members would return and collect the bones in a box, which they would then slide into a slot, on the wall.
Verse 40: "Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?"
Jesus reminded Martha of what He had previously promised. Asking her to dig deeply into her faith, He said, "Did I not tell you that, if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
Jesus certainly put her on the spot, didn't He? (didn't this take a lot of faith on her
Verse 41-42: "So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 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."
Martha allowed the stone to be rolled away, and
Jesus prayed to the Father! Jesus thanked the Father that He had already
Jesus knew what was going to happen, so His prayer was for the benefit of the people. He wanted them to see this mighty miracle, so that it might help them believe He was from God.
Verse 43: "When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 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."
With a 'loud voice," He commanded Lazarus to come out! And, the one who had died came out.
The loud voice was not so Lazarus could hear Him,
a whisper would do that.
There were many people there, and Jesus spoke in a loud voice so they would hear and know, that Lazarus had been brought back to life by the great, "I AM's" command.
The custom was to wrap the deceased in long cloth strips. This wrapping was to be thorough, binding the limbs to keep them straight, and even the cheeks to keep the mouth shut; the face cloth may have been a yard square.
The tight wrapping would have made it impossible to walk, so, when Lazarus came forth, he was still bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus ordered them removed.
Something of interest: Men could not wrap women's corpses, but women could bind both men and women, so it is likely, or at least possible, that Lazarus was wrapped by his sisters.
About Lazarus' Resurrection:
Lazarus was not raised from the physical dead to live forever. The life
Jesus restored to Lazarus would cease at his subsequent physical death. He is now, "present with the Lord," awaiting the bodily resurrection.
This concludes our study of: "Jesus Raises Lazarus from the dead"
Our next study Is:
In this Study there is:
A plot to kill Jesus
And a Plot to Kill Lazarus
A special anointing at Bethany