by Mike Ratliff
εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο; (John 11:25-26 NA27)
Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and The Life; the one believing in Me, even if he should die will live, and everyone living and believing in Me never dies into the age. Do you believe this?” (a personal translation of John 11:25-26 from the NA27 Greek text)
In this post we will look out our Lord’s final and ultimate messianic sign. John also bluntly contrasted our Lord’s spectacular, uncontested miracle with the evil intent of the Jewish religious leaders who resolved to arrest Jesus and kill not only Him, but Lazarus whom our Lord raised from the dead. John also reveals their self-centered motivations for this later in John 11:45-57. In this post we will look at John 11:1-44.
Ἦν δέ τις ἀσθενῶν, Λάζαρος ἀπὸ Βηθανίας, ἐκ τῆς κώμης Μαρίας καὶ Μάρθας τῆς ἀδελφῆς αὐτῆς. ἦν δὲ Μαριὰμ ἡ ἀλείψασα τὸν κύριον μύρῳ καὶ ἐκμάξασα τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ ταῖς θριξὶν αὐτῆς, ἧς ὁ ἀδελφὸς Λάζαρος ἠσθένει. ἀπέστειλαν οὖν αἱ ἀδελφαὶ πρὸς αὐτὸν λέγουσαι· κύριε, ἴδε ὃν φιλεῖς ἀσθενεῖ. ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν· αὕτη ἡ ἀσθένεια οὐκ ἔστιν πρὸς θάνατον ἀλλ᾽ ὑπὲρ τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ, ἵνα δοξασθῇ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ δι᾽ αὐτῆς. (John 11:1-4 NA27)
Now a certain main was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and of Martha her sister. It was Mary who was the one who anointed The Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore, the sisters sent to Him saying, “Lord, look, the one whom you love is sick.” Having heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son may be glorified through it.” (a personal translation of John 11:1-4 from the NA27 Greek text)
Every time I read these verses I am reminded of John 9:1-41 in which our Lord is glorified by God as His works are manifested through the healing of a man born blind. Here, a man who is loved becomes ill it is feared that he is going to die. They send for our Lord to heal him, but what does He say? He says, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son may be glorified through it.” The way the Greek grammar is structured here it is clear that our Lord was saying that the end result of this sickness was not going to be Lazarus’ death.
ἠγάπα δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς καὶ τὸν Λάζαρον. ὡς οὖν ἤκουσεν ὅτι ἀσθενεῖ, τότε μὲν ἔμεινεν ἐν ᾧ ἦν τόπῳ δύο ἡμέρας, ἔπειτα μετὰ τοῦτο λέγει τοῖς μαθηταῖς· ἄγωμεν εἰς τὴν Ἰουδαίαν πάλιν. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ οἱ μαθηταί· ῥαββί, νῦν ἐζήτουν σε λιθάσαι οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι, καὶ πάλιν ὑπάγεις ἐκεῖ; ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς· οὐχὶ δώδεκα ὧραί εἰσιν τῆς ἡμέρας; ἐάν τις περιπατῇ ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, οὐ προσκόπτει, ὅτι τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου βλέπει· ἐὰν δέ τις περιπατῇ ἐν τῇ νυκτί, προσκόπτει, ὅτι τὸ φῶς οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν αὐτῷ. Ταῦτα εἶπεν, καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο λέγει αὐτοῖς· Λάζαρος ὁ φίλος ἡμῶν κεκοίμηται· ἀλλὰ πορεύομαι ἵνα ἐξυπνίσω αὐτόν. εἶπαν οὖν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτῷ· κύριε, εἰ κεκοίμηται σωθήσεται. εἰρήκει δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς περὶ τοῦ θανάτου αὐτοῦ, ἐκεῖνοι δὲ ἔδοξαν ὅτι περὶ τῆς κοιμήσεως τοῦ ὕπνου λέγει. τότε οὖν εἶπεν αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς παρρησίᾳ· Λάζαρος ἀπέθανεν, καὶ χαίρω δι᾽ ὑμᾶς ἵνα πιστεύσητε, ὅτι οὐκ ἤμην ἐκεῖ· ἀλλὰ ἄγωμεν πρὸς αὐτόν. εἶπεν οὖν Θωμᾶς ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος τοῖς συμμαθηταῖς· ἄγωμεν καὶ ἡμεῖς ἵνα ἀποθάνωμεν μετ᾽ αὐτοῦ. (John 11:5-16 NA27)
Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. Therefore, when He heard that he was sick He remained in the place He was two more days. He said to His disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.” The disciples said, “Rabbi, Just now the Jews were seeking to stone you and again you go there?” Jesus answered, “ Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks around during the night, he stumbles because the light is not in him.” These things He said, and after this, He said to them, “Lazarus our friend has fallen asleep, but I am going that I may awaken him.” Therefore, the disciples said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be healed.” But, Jesus had spoken about his death, but they supposed that He spoke about the rest of sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus died, and I rejoice that I was not there so that you may believe. But, let us go to him.” Therefore, Thomas, the one called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us go that we may die with Him.” (a personal translation of John 11:5-16 from the NA17 Greek text)
Why did Jesus not hurry to be there to heal Lazarus so that he would have not died? He tarried where He was so that Mary and Martha would go through the sorrow and hardship of death and mourning for their brother. He knew what He was going to do. The miracle of bringing Lazarus back from the dead would not have happened without that hardship first. The grieving and sorrow would be replaced with what after Jesus “awoke Lazarus?” We shall see.
Ἐλθὼν οὖν ὁ Ἰησοῦς εὗρεν αὐτὸν τέσσαρας ἤδη ἡμέρας ἔχοντα ἐν τῷ μνημείῳ. ἦν δὲ ἡ Βηθανία ἐγγὺς τῶν Ἱεροσολύμων ὡς ἀπὸ σταδίων δεκαπέντε. πολλοὶ δὲ ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐληλύθεισαν πρὸς τὴν Μάρθαν καὶ Μαριὰμ ἵνα παραμυθήσωνται αὐτὰς περὶ τοῦ ἀδελφοῦ. ἡ οὖν Μάρθα ὡς ἤκουσεν ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἔρχεται ὑπήντησεν αὐτῷ· Μαριὰμ δὲ ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ ἐκαθέζετο. εἶπεν οὖν ἡ Μάρθα πρὸς τὸν Ἰησοῦν· κύριε, εἰ ἦς ὧδε οὐκ ἂν ἀπέθανεν ὁ ἀδελφός μου· [ἀλλὰ] καὶ νῦν οἶδα ὅτι ὅσα ἂν αἰτήσῃ τὸν θεὸν δώσει σοι ὁ θεός. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἀναστήσεται ὁ ἀδελφός σου. λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ Μάρθα· οἶδα ὅτι ἀναστήσεται ἐν τῇ ἀναστάσει ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ. εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι ἡ ἀνάστασις καὶ ἡ ζωή· ὁ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ κἂν ἀποθάνῃ ζήσεται, καὶ πᾶς ὁ ζῶν καὶ πιστεύων εἰς ἐμὲ οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. πιστεύεις τοῦτο; λέγει αὐτῷ· ναὶ κύριε, ἐγὼ πεπίστευκα ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ὁ εἰς τὸν κόσμον ἐρχόμενος. (John 11:17-27 NA27)
Having come, therefore, Jesus found him already four days in the tomb. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem about fifteen stadia away and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary that they might console them about their brother. Therefore, Martha, when she heard that Jesus came, met Him; but Mary was sitting in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord if you were here, my brother would not have died; but even now I know that whatever you ask God, He will give You.” Jesus said to her, “I am The Resurrection and The Life; the one believing in Me, even if he should die will live, and everyone living and believing in Me never dies into the age. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes Lord, I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the One coming into the world.” (a personal translation of John 11:17-27 from the NA27 Greek text)
What is Jesus teaching here? We so often focus on “dying and going to Heaven” as believers that we forget about what our Lord is talking about here. Yes, if we are in Christ, we have eternal life and that is because our Saviour is who He says in v25. The result is that all who is has been saved by faith, that is, been justified by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) have eternal life even if we physically die, but what is this stuff about the resurrection? Our bodies and we will be resurrected again in eternity when this age is over. What Jesus is about to do with Lazarus is a preview of what He is about to do Himself three days after His death on the Cross. Lazarus had to die again, but our Lord’s resurrection was unto a glorified body that was one like what we will have when our time comes. Even though Martha display’s faith her understanding of these things is incomplete just as it is for most believers today.
Καὶ τοῦτο εἰποῦσα ἀπῆλθεν καὶ ἐφώνησεν Μαριὰμ τὴν ἀδελφὴν αὐτῆς λάθρᾳ εἰποῦσα· ὁ διδάσκαλος πάρεστιν καὶ φωνεῖ σε. ἐκείνη δὲ ὡς ἤκουσεν ἠγέρθη ταχὺ καὶ ἤρχετο πρὸς αὐτόν. οὔπω δὲ ἐληλύθει ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν κώμην, ἀλλ᾽ ἦν ἔτι ἐν τῷ τόπῳ ὅπου ὑπήντησεν αὐτῷ ἡ Μάρθα. οἱ οὖν Ἰουδαῖοι οἱ ὄντες μετ᾽ αὐτῆς ἐν τῇ οἰκίᾳ καὶ παραμυθούμενοι αὐτήν, ἰδόντες τὴν Μαριὰμ ὅτι ταχέως ἀνέστη καὶ ἐξῆλθεν, ἠκολούθησαν αὐτῇ δόξαντες ὅτι ὑπάγει εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον ἵνα κλαύσῃ ἐκεῖ. Ἡ οὖν Μαριὰμ ὡς ἦλθεν ὅπου ἦν Ἰησοῦς ἰδοῦσα αὐτὸν ἔπεσεν αὐτοῦ πρὸς τοὺς πόδας λέγουσα αὐτῷ· κύριε, εἰ ἦς ὧδε οὐκ ἄν μου ἀπέθανεν ὁ ἀδελφός. Ἰησοῦς οὖν ὡς εἶδεν αὐτὴν κλαίουσαν καὶ τοὺς συνελθόντας αὐτῇ Ἰουδαίους κλαίοντας, ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐτάραξεν ἑαυτὸν καὶ εἶπεν· ποῦ τεθείκατε αὐτόν; λέγουσιν αὐτῷ· κύριε, ἔρχου καὶ ἴδε. ἐδάκρυσεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς. ἔλεγον οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· ἴδε πῶς ἐφίλει αὐτόν. τινὲς δὲ ἐξ αὐτῶν εἶπαν· οὐκ ἐδύνατο οὗτος ὁ ἀνοίξας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τοῦ τυφλοῦ ποιῆσαι ἵνα καὶ οὗτος μὴ ἀποθάνῃ;(John 11:28-37 NA27)
And having said this, she departed and secretly called Mary her sister and said, “The teacher is here and calls you.” And when she heard, she arose quickly and was coming to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but He was still in the place where Martha had met Him. Therefore, the Jews with her in the house consoling her, seeing that Mary had rose up quickly, went out and followed her, having supposed that she was going to the tomb that she might weep there. Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, seeing Him, she fell at His feet saying to Him, “Lord, if you were here my brother would not have died.” Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and was troubled in Himself and said, “Where have you place Him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus shed tears. The Jews were saying, “See how He loved him.” But some of them said, “Having opened the eyes of the blind man, couldn’t He have kept this man from dying?” (a personal translation of John 11:28-37 from the NA27 Greek text)
This part of this passage was hard for me to understand for many years. How could Jesus be troubled in his spirit and weep being God? Well, our Lord is God, but He is also human and our Lord hates what sin has done to us and that is the evil of death. Yes, he felt a profound sorrow at the death of Lazarus and felt the grief and sorrow of Mary and Martha who were believers. To answer that last question in v37, yes He most certainly could have kept Lazarus from dying, but then He wouldn’t have been able to do what we are about to witness in vv38-44.
Ἰησοῦς οὖν πάλιν ἐμβριμώμενος ἐν ἑαυτῷ ἔρχεται εἰς τὸ μνημεῖον· ἦν δὲ σπήλαιον καὶ λίθος ἐπέκειτο ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ. λέγει ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἄρατε τὸν λίθον. λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ ἀδελφὴ τοῦ τετελευτηκότος Μάρθα· κύριε, ἤδη ὄζει, τεταρταῖος γάρ ἐστιν. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· οὐκ εἶπόν σοι ὅτι ἐὰν πιστεύσῃς ὄψῃ τὴν δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ; ἦραν οὖν τὸν λίθον. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς ἦρεν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἄνω καὶ εἶπεν· πάτερ, εὐχαριστῶ σοι ὅτι ἤκουσάς μου. ἐγὼ δὲ ᾔδειν ὅτι πάντοτέ μου ἀκούεις, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸν ὄχλον τὸν περιεστῶτα εἶπον, ἵνα πιστεύσωσιν ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας. καὶ ταῦτα εἰπὼν φωνῇ μεγάλῃ ἐκραύγασεν· Λάζαρε, δεῦρο ἔξω. ἐξῆλθεν ὁ τεθνηκὼς δεδεμένος τοὺς πόδας καὶ τὰς χεῖρας κειρίαις καὶ ἡ ὄψις αὐτοῦ σουδαρίῳ περιεδέδετο. λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· λύσατε αὐτὸν καὶ ἄφετε αὐτὸν ὑπάγειν. (John 11:38-44 NA27)
Therefore, Jesus again being deeply moved within Himself came to the tomb. Now it was a cave and a stone was lying across it. Jesus said, “Lift the stone.” The sister of the one who died, namely Martha, said to Him, “Lord, already he smells for it is the fourth day.” Jesus said to here, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you will see the glory of God?” Therefore, they lifted the stone and Jesus lifted His eyes up and said, “Father I thank You that You heard Me and I knew that You always hear Me, but because the crowd is here, I say that they may believe that You have sent Me.” And with a great voice He cried out, “Lazarus come out!” The one who died came out with his hands and feet bound wearing his grave clothes, and his face covered with a face cloth tied around. Jesus said to them, “Untie Him and allow Him to go.” (a personal translation of John 11:38-44 from the NA27 Greek text)
As with all of our studies in John in this series, what was the point of what Jesus did? It was to show everyone that He was who claimed to be and that the Father had sent Him. He was the Messiah and that all of the signs and miracles and works were fulfillments of those prophecies in the Old Testament and those who witnessed these things were without excuse if they remained in unbelief. My brethren, think about that voice that our Lord used there, that “great voice!” We will hear it again when He calls forth everyone who has ever lived to come forth to stand before Him. We will look at the rest of John 11 in the next post.
Soli Deo Gloria!