Verse 1 – Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
Bethany was about two miles east of Jerusalem on the road to Jericho. It was near enough to Jerusalem for Jesus and His disciples to still be in danger, but far enough away so as not to attract too much attention.
Verse 2 – It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
Verse 3 – Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
Verse 4 – When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Any trial, hardship, or crises that a believer faces can ultimately bring glory to God, because He can take what was meant for evil, and turn it around for good (Romans 8:28).
Verse 5 – Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Verse 6 – So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.
When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He intentionally stayed where He was two more days. Isn’t that odd? Not really, for someone who knows all things. God’s timing is always perfect. This should be a great example to us when the answer to our prayers is delayed.
Jesus needed Lazarus to die, be in the grave a while, to show the greatest of miracles, raising Lazarus from the dead. Which do you think would be the greatest praise, healing Lazarus, or raising him from the dead?
Verse 7 – Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
Verse 8 – The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”
Verse 9 – Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of the world.
Verse 10 – “But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
Day symbolizes the knowledge of God’s will, and night the absence of this knowledge. When we move ahead, on our own in darkness, we are likely to stumble. Jesus wasn’t going to Lazarus until the Father told Him to go.
Verse 11 – These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” (There are no dead with the righteous, merely asleep.)
Verse 12 – Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.
Verse 13 – However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about rest in sleep.
Verse 14 – Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.”
Verse 15 – “And I am glad for your sake’s that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.
If Jesus had been there at Lazarus’ bedside, He would have merely healed him. But Lazarus had to die so that Jesus could show His disciples and others His power over death. Jesus not only raised Himself from the dead, but will raise every believer when the time comes.
Verse 16 – Then Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
The disciples knew that going back to Judea would be dangerous, so they all agreed that if Jesus was killed, they would die with Him.
Verse 17 – So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days.
Decomposition begins several minutes after death, so you can imagine what kind of shape Lazarus would be in after four days.
Verse 18 – Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away.
Verse 19 – And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
Verse 20 – Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house.
Verse 21 – Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.
Verse 22 – “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
Martha knows Jesus has the power to heal and she also knows if Jesus chose to, He could raise Lazarus, if He only asked God.
Verse 23 – Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Verse 24 – Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Verse 25 – Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.
Verse 26 – “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus has power over life and death. He also has power to forgive sin. Whoever believes in Him has a spiritual life that death cannot conquer or diminish in any way.
Verse 27 – She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world.”
Martha’s statement is the exact same statement He wants from all of us.
Verse 28 – And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”
Verse 29 – As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.
Verse 30 – Now Jesus had not yet come into town, but was in the place where Martha met Him.
Verse 31 – Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”
Verse 32 – Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Verse 33 – Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.
Verse 34 – And He said, “Where have you laid him? They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
Verse 35 – Jesus wept.
There are two possible reasons why Jesus wept, or perhaps a combination of both. No doubt He was heart-broken for these people who loved Lazarus, and He felt their deep loss, but also, I think a part of Him wept because of their unbelief.
Verse 36 – Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
Verse 37 – And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
Verse 38 – Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
Jesus groaned within Himself because there was so much doubt spoken. Now they even doubted whether He really opened the eyes of the blind man.
When we let doubt rush in where there should be faith in what Jesus can do, I believe it breaks His heart. We have to learn to allow our faith in God to rise up in every difficult situation. Our God can do the impossible!
Verse 39 – Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is stench, for he has been dead four days.”
While the Jews used spices at burials, this did not prevent decomposition of the body.
Verse 40 – Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”
Verse 41 – Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
When you pray, do you start with thanksgiving?
Verse 42 – “And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Verse 43 – Now when He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!”
Sometimes these tombs had more than one body in them. If Jesus had not specifically called Lazarus name, they all would have come out! Even the dead hear the shepherds voice.
Verse 44 – And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
Jesus also raised Jairus’ daughter and a widow’s son. John doesn’t record Lazarus’ reaction or anyone else. But you can imagine what it was like.
Verse 45 – Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.
Verse 46 – But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.
Verse 47 – Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.
Verse 48 – “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”
“If we let Him alone,” the people will accept Him as Messiah, and proclaiming Him King. Then the Romans will interpret this as rebellion and count it against Caesar and his government.
Verse 49 – And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,
Verse 50 – “nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”
Verse 51 – Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,
Verse 52 – and not for the nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.
Those who were scattered abroad – Gentiles. Caiaphas’ thinking was, why should the entire nation of Israel die for this one Man. Why not kill this one Man, and the whole nation would live. Little did he know that this fit into God’s plan for salvation of the whole world.
Verse 53 – Then from that day on they plotted to put Him to death.
Verse 54 – Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.
Verse 55 – And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purity themselves.
This was the fourth Passover of Jesus ministry.
Verse 56 – Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do yo think – that He will not come to the feast?”
Verse 57 – Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, He should report it, that they might seize Him.
Do you recognize Jesus’ presence when He is in your midst? These that wanted to kill Him didn’t, even though they were supposed to know the Scripture and all the prophecies of the coming Messiah. So why didn’t they know whom was in their midst? Pride over road their hearts and when that happens to a person, they are blind to the things of God – truth!