I am the Resurrection and the Life
Text: John 11:1-46
I. Sisters send word to Jesus
1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
2 It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
The account of this is actually recorded in the next chapter of John.
1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.
3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
3 So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
· Jesus loves all His sheep, but this family must have been especially dear to Jesus. In verses 3, 5, and 36 of this chapter John makes special note of Jesus’ love for Lazarus.
· You have probably had someone you care about very much, maybe a family member, who became critically ill?
o Remember how you’d do all in your power to make sure they had the very best care?
o And you would go to great extremes to make them as comfortable as possible?
o No effort or expense would be spared to meet their needs and make them well.
· So when Jesus heard about Lazarus illness, He rushed right over to Bethany so that He would be sure to get there in time to help His dear friend, right? Well, not exactly.
6 So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was.
· Since Lazarus was so ill and Jesus clearly cared so much for him and his family, you might wonder why Jesus didn’t immediately go to Bethany to heal Him. For that matter, He didn’t even need to go to Bethany at all. He could just say the word as He had done on other occasions and Lazarus would be healed. We will see in a few verses why it was that Jesus delayed to go to His dear friend Lazarus.
II. Interaction with the disciples
7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?”
· In the Old Testament, God gives specific offenses for which someone is to be stoned to death. One of the offenses was blaspheming the name of the LORD.
· Lev 24:16
16 ‘Moreover, the one who blasphemes the name of the LORD shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him. The alien as well as the native, when he blasphemes the Name, shall be put to death.
· There were actually two recorded instances in which the Jews sought to stone Jesus. Both are also recorded in John’s gospel. Let’s look back at the two incidents that motivated them to want to stone Him.
· John 8:58-59
58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”
59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple.
· John 10:30-33
30 ” I and the Father are one.”
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him.
32 Jesus answered them, “I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?”
33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”
· Did you notice on those two incidents that it was essentially the same issue that prompted the Jews to attempt to stone Jesus? When He said, “before Abraham was born, I am.” He was referring to the occasion in Exodus 3 which the Lord appeared to Moses in the burning bush to commission him to lead His people out of Egypt. Moses asked who he should say sent him to deliver them. The Lord spoke from the midst of the burning bush, “I am who I am.” Tell them “I am” has sent you. The Jews were very familiar with this Old Testament passage, so they clearly understood when He said. “before Abraham was born, I am” that Jesus was claiming to be God. That’s why their immediate reaction was to pick up stones and stone Him.
· In the second instance, Jesus had just finished explaining that His sheep’s eternal life could never be lost because both He and the Father used their power to keep them totally secure. He then concluded with the statement, “I and the Father are one.” This time the Jews needed no historical background to understand Jesus’ claim and they had rightly concluded in V33 that Jesus was making Himself out to be God. Once again their immediate response was to pick up stones to stone Him.
· On these two recent occasions, Jesus’ disciples had observed that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus because He claimed to be God. So, their reluctance to return to Bethany was understandable since Jesus had just told them that Lazarus’ illness would not end in death.
9 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.
10 “But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
· The Jews divided the time from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal hours which varied in length depending upon the season. The day referred to one’s life and the night to one’s death. Jesus was answering His disciples question by saying the Father had allotted Him a specific amount of time for His earthly ministry and appointed a specific time for Him to die. Until that appointed end of His earthly ministry arrived, the Jews could not harm Him, i.e. He could not stumble in death prior to God’s appointed time for Him. There was therefore no cause of concern for them to go back to Judea.
· Jesus, of course knew exactly how much time remained for His ministry before He was to go to the cross. Though we don’t know how long it is, you and I also have a certain amount of time allotted for our life here on earth.
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,
11 This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”
12 The disciples then said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”
13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.
· It’s not surprising that the disciples thought this. I would have thought the same thing.
· Jesus now speaks to them in unmistakable terms…
14 So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead,
15 and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.”
· Remember back in V6 the surprising fact that Jesus remained where He was two days longer when He was told about Lazarus’ illness. Here, we are given the reason why He delayed those two days. His primary reason wasn’t for Lazarus’ benefit. It wasn’t for Mary or Martha’s or any of the residents of Bethany’s benefit either. It wasn’t to finish up some urgent business that He needed to complete where He was ministering beyond the Jordan. No, the reason Jesus waited two additional days was for the benefit of His disciples. The fact is, much of what Jesus did was specifically for the training of these twelve men. He must give them the very best training so that when He returned to heaven, they could successfully take the gospel message to the ends of the earth. So, these extra two days were designed to set the stage to increase their faith by a greater demonstration of Jesus’ power.
16 Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
· I don’t know about you, but when I think of Thomas I usually mentally add the adjective “Doubting” in front of his name. On the Sunday that Jesus rose, He first appeared to His disciples in a locked room where they were hiding for fear of the Jews, but Thomas was not there. They later excitedly reported to him that they had indeed seen Jesus. His well known reply was,
· “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.” John 20:25b
Since then, “Doubting” Thomas is the nickname he’s been remembered by.
· But here, we see a different side of Thomas when we observe his great courage in being willing to face death with his Lord. He demonstrates his total commitment to Jesus even if it meant dying at His side. This total commitment was not merely a requirement for those twelve men, it is exactly the same commitment that He now requires from you and me.
35 “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Maybe instead of “Doubting” Thomas, we should remember him as “Committed” Thomas!
Click Here for Part 2 of this Sermon on John 11