Reading For Friday John 11:1-57
Jesus had friends. He was not disconnected from the people around him and he cope with difficulties and suffering in relationships just like everyone else. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were dear friends of our Lord. John gives us a bit of background concerning Mary and then announces that her brother Lazarus was ill. Surely it was a serious illness because these sisters sent word to Jesus. They must have been terribly worried about their brother. However, when Jesus receives word of the illness, he says that it does not lead to death, but that it is for the glory of God, particularly for the Son of God. John, his beloved disciple, explains that Jesus truly loves these friends but curiously he stays two days longer. Perhaps the disciples had moved on, but Jesus announces after the two days that they are going to Judea. The disciples are not thrilled with this prospect because there had already been an attempt on Jesus' life. Jesus tells the disciples plainly that Lazarus has fallen asleep and he was going to awaken him. The disciples are slow to grasp the meaning and tell Jesus that he would recover implying that it is not very serious since he is only sleeping. Jesus finally said to the disciples bluntly that Lazarus was dead and that he was glad for their sake. Imagine the dumbfounded disciples on the journey to Judea. Was it completely silent? How do you reconcile what Jesus said in light of the reality of Lazarus' death? What would happen to them when they arrived since there were plenty of people that wanted to see Jesus dead?
As they arrive, Jesus finds out that Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days and mourners were still gathered around the grieving sisters. When Martha learned that Jesus had arrived, she quickly went to meet him. Martha expresses faith and believes that Jesus will receive whatever he asks of the Father. Jesus tells her that Lazarus will rise again but she only acknowledges a future resurrection day. Jesus tells her that he is the resurrection and whoever believes will never die. Martha speaks words of great faith as she declares that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. She went to fetch Mary and told her that Jesus was asking for her. Mary left quickly and those around her followed close behind supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep. Mary spoke words very similar to her sister and fell at his feet distressed over their loss. Jesus was deeply moved and asked where Lazarus was buried. Jesus wept. This is a short verse, but very powerful. These were not tears over the departure of Lazarus, these were tears of anger. The Greek construction points to this truth. Jesus' outrage was probably over sin, death, and unbelief. The people see how deeply he was moved and they think it is just because of his feelings toward Lazarus and they secretly chide him for not coming sooner and preventing his death. Jesus has come to raise Lazarus and announced it to others. He knew he would see Lazarus that very day and so they proceeded to the tomb. Jesus told the people to move the stone, but Martha protests and warns against the natural decay of the body taking place. Jesus told her that she would see the glory of God and they moved the stone. Jesus prays to the Father aloud declaring that it is for the benefit of those standing there. When he finished his prayer, he commanded Lazarus to come out. Imagine the crowd as they stood frozen in disbelief and waiting to see what would happen. To their amazement, Lazarus came out and Jesus told them to unbind him and let him go.
The news of this spread quickly and some went immediately to the Pharisees to tell them what had taken place. They should be able to discern what God was doing. Instead, their jealousy and fear of the Romans is made manifest as the High Priest tells them that it is better for one man to die than for the whole nation to perish. He had already prophesied that this would take place and so they made plans to put Jesus to death. Jesus restricted his movements from that day forward and stayed with the disciples. The Passover was at hand and the chief priests and Pharisees gave orders trying to ascertain Jesus' location so that they could arrest him. Jesus' time is drawing near.
Things To Consider:
- Do you forget that Jesus had friends and went to parties when you read the Bible?
- Are we confused about what Jesus is doing when faced with illness and infirmity?
- How do you respond when Jesus delays? How should we respond? Why?
- What do you think the emotions of the disciples were like during the journey to Judea after Jesus had announced that Lazarus was dead and he was glad for their sake?
- Martha's declaration of faith was the same that Peter had made and Jesus said that this was from the Father. Why do you think it is significant for Martha to express faith in this way?
- Do you ever second guess Jesus? Why or why not?
- What commands are you protesting currently?
- What are we seeing about Jesus' relationship to the Father through his prayer?
- What was that home like after Lazarus returned from the dead?
- Do you think this family treasured their time together? Does this have implications for us?