Passage Big Idea
Jesus not only holds the keys to new spiritual life, but physical life as well. He is the resurrection and the life. (John 11:25-26)
11:1-16 – Jesus learns of Lazarus’ death
11:17-37 – Jesus & the agony of death
11:38-44 – The raising of Lazarus
11:45-54 – The beginning of the end
Some things to look out for
Some random thoughts/facts/ideas
– This is the final and most climactic “sign” in John (apart from the cross), before we enter the next major section of John, Jesus’ passion (John 13-20).
– Resurrections, even in Jesus ministry is rare. There’s Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:22-24), The widow of Nain’s son (Luke 7:11-15) and Lazarus’. This is the most dramatic, and personal of all three raisings.
– Ridderbos (a commentators) paraphrase of John 11:38-39 – “Enough now of tears and wailing! Enough honour has been bestowed on death! Against the power of death God’s glory will now enter the arena!” Just thought that as a nice way to put it.
– Again, there is division in people’s response to Jesus (John 11:45-46). Not again, the Pharisees do not even bother to deny the event, nor send someone to investigate – they assume Jesus can do this. But their response is not a plan to praise God, but a plan to kill him.
– Along with their plot to kill Jesus (11:53), Lazarus is also seen as a threat to the Pharisees after this, so they also plot to arrange his death…again (12:9-10).
Old Testament Background
– Daniel 12:3 – Most Jews (at least those who followed the Pharisees) believed in the resurrection from the OT, as evidenced by Martha’s statement (John 11:24). The Sadducee’s (another Jewish religious group) didn’t. That’s why they were sad you see. See Acts 23:8.
Some possible areas of application
– When we speak of eternal life, the place most of our brains go is eternal physical life. The previous passages in John have elaborated on the idea of eternal life, but none of them have been talking about he physical, but the spiritual. Here we have the final piece in the puzzle as to what eternal life looks like.
– Imagine how painful this event is for Jesus. He loves Mary, Martha and Lazarus – but he waits for Lazarus to die, knowing that people need to see that Jesus is the resurrection and the life by Lazarus being raised from the dead. And you can see his agony (John 11:33,35,38)
– This passage has the second shortest verse in the bible. (John 3:35)
– Jesus anger in this passage is at death, and the effects of it to friendship & family. Does that echo with your experience of death?
– This story does not tell us Lazarus’ reaction to the events. Imagine how he must have felt, and what he must have thought emerging from the tomb in strips of linen!