Reposted from Pastor McKinley
(57 verses, 6:48 to read)
What I am about to READ
- Jesus does His final sign in John’s Gospel, and the Jews plan to kill him for it.
- vv. 1-16 Jesus and His disciples get word that Lazarus is sick and eventually dies.
- vv. 17-27 Jesus and His disciples go to Bethany and Jesus speaks with Martha.
- vv. 28-44 Jesus speaks with Mary, He weeps at the death of Lazarus, and then raises Lazarus from the dead.
- vv. 45-57 The Jews make further plans to put Jesus to death.
- This chapter is one of the most dramatic in all of the Scriptures, pointing us to the promise that Jesus would rise from the dead, thus securing bodily resurrection for us in eternal life. This is the last of Jesus’ seven signs in John’s Gospel, which all point the hearer of this Gospel to Jesus’ true identity that will be revealed in His crucifixion, death, and resurrection.
- Jesus’ delay in going to rescue Lazarus is expressly for the purpose of strengthening the faith of Christ’s disciples. In the pattern of the signs in St. John’s Gospel, none of them convert unbelievers. In fact, they often enrage Jesus’ opponents further. The raising of Lazarus is no different, as we see in vv. 45-47. For those already believing in Christ, however, the signs are recorded to strengthen our faith. We see this confirmed in John 20: “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
- Jesus’ remark about light and darkness remind us that as long as Christ, who is the light of men (John 1:4 and 8:12), is with us, are guarded from all evil. This seems a bit contradictory, especially in light of Jesus’ words later in this chapter about death and life. However, we know that Jesus is with us through His Word and Sacraments to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20). Not even death, then, can separate us from Christ Jesus, the fullest expression of God’s loved toward us (Romans 8:38-39). Even in the face of death, then, we need not be afraid. Christ, who conquered Lazarus death, has also conquered our death.
- When Jesus comes to Bethany, He’s met by Martha, Lazarus’ sister, who backhandedly blames Jesus for Lazarus’ death. This is not an uncommon reaction. Many people blame God for the death of loved ones, when death is really the result of our sin. Martha pressed further, asking Jesus to intervene, which gave Jesus the opportunity to pour pure Gospel into her ear, pointing her to the raising of Lazarus. It seems that she misses the boat a bit, thinking Jesus is referring to the resurrection of the Last Day. Still, this is a beautiful confession from Martha’s lips. Even more wonderful, though, is that Jesus identifies Himself not simply as the cause of the resurrection, but as the resurrection incarnate. In Christ, our resurrection is already secured. Because He is raised from the dead, death cannot hold us (cf. I Corinthians 15). This also seems to be a bit of doublespeak on our Lord’s part. However, we know that death is a temporary state that is actually a portal to life eternal.
- Jesus eventually meets Mary, the other sister of Lazarus, who says the same words as her sister. This begins to form a clearer picture. Perhaps this was part of the conversation between the sisters after Lazarus’ death, especially since they had sent word that Lazarus was near death. The grief builds here in a dramatic way, which culminates in Jesus’ own tears being shed. But Jesus, knowing exactly what was going to happen, was moved to tears over the havoc sin had wrought on His good creation.
- Lazarus was buried in a tomb, covered by a stone (sound familiar?). Here then, probably about a week before His own resurrection from the dead, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This added to the excitement of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a day or two later on the first Palm Sunday. Lazarus stood as proof of Jesus’ claims He made throughout His earthly ministry. In fact, in chapter 12, we learn that there is a plot afoot to kill Lazarus.
- While meeting to discuss these most recent events, the Pharisees and the chief priests and the Sanhedrin met together with the High Priest to discuss what to do. They feared reprisal from the Romans in the wake of a possible uprising caused by Jesus. Caiaphas under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit prophesied that Jesus’s death would be for Israel and for all of the faithful scattered abroad. Indeed, Jesus’s death was for Israel, but not in the way Caiaphas thought. Israel eventually fell to Rome in about the year 70 A.D. However, St. John tells us that this was not to bring political peace, but to secure peace between God and man.
- Prayer: Be Thou my consolation, my shield, when I must die; remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh. Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell, my heart by faith enfold Thee. Who dieth thus dies well. Amen. (LSB 449:4)
Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Post below, or join the conversation in our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/dailybiblemeditation/
-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN
Learn more about Trinity:
On the Web: http://www.trinityvallonia.com
Find our sermons in the iTunes store
or at http://podpoint.com/trinity-lutheran-church-podcast