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Raising of Lazarus, (Part 2). John 11:11


Raising of Lazarus, (Part 2)

Where Jesus Calls His Disciples to Witness God’s Glory at Work
Text: John 11:11

1. Real Friendship and Plain Speech! These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” 12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead.

These verses show the tenderness in Christ’s heart for his disciples. He speaks with great affection about Lazarus, and words of comfort for Hs disciples, but they misunderstand, and He must speak to them with great forthrightness…

  1. Jesus is a REAL friend! Notice the way he speaks of Lazarus. Our friend!  To have Jesus as our friend is to have the closest friendship imaginable. He will carry all our burdens and cares, and he will keep us close, even after this life is over, and He will remain our friend right throughout eternity. To have Jesus as our friend is to share him with others. It’s OUR friend Lazarus.
  2. Jesus is a REALISTIC friend. He knows us so well, and he fully understands our frailties, and He speaks to our troubled condition and he speaks plainly:-
    1. He makes the message COMFORTING. Lazarus SLEEPS, and Jesus is going to go and to awaken him. The disciples don’t understand, and they think Jesus is referring to sleep, – and what’s so wrong with that, if Lazarus is sleeping, he must be recovering! When the disciples have indicated their confusion, he clarifies it with plain speech, that they can’t fail to understand. So:-
    2. He makes the message PLAIN. There is no point in letting Christians labour under a delusion, – and when they fail to understand God’s Word we must sometimes speak very clearly indeed, as Jesus does here, for sometimes ‘sleep’ has a more solemn meaning. LAZARUS IS DEAD. Acts 7:60, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Thessalonians 4:13  

So Jesus has broken the news to the disciples that Lazarus is dead. But they have still more information to digest…

2. A Lesson in Faith and Trust! 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.”
Jesus is glad he was not at the house in Bethany when Lazarus died, for the disciples were going to learn a valuable lesson from this tragic event, for what they are about to see will deepen and strengthen their faith and their trust in God, and will cause them to sing His praises. They had seen blind eyes opened, lame men made to walk, incurables cured, withered hands restored… But raising a deal man to new life! That would cause anyone to stand back and marvel at what God had done. It would strengthen their faith, it would drive home the understanding of Christ’s divinity, it would bring them to their knees in worship and prayer.

3. Thomas – Despair or Determination? 16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”
Who was this Thomas, and why does he sound so downbeat here? Let’s explore those two issues now:-

  1. Thomas was one of the apostles, as we see in the synoptic Gospels. Matthew 10:2-4, cf Acts 1:13. Thomas has two names, but neither of the is a surname. Thomas would be known among his family and Jewish friends by his given name, but in non-Jewish company he would be called by his Greek name, Didymus. Both mean ‘Twin.’ Thomas is mostly remembered for his doubt about the resurrected Christ in John 20. Verse 28 is his confession of faith. John 20:28-29   (One commentator states that this is climax of John’s Gospel, a lesson to us that those who believe in Christ, without having seen what Thomas saw that day, would be blessed.)
  2. Thomas was a follower of Christ. And like every follower of Christ he has ups and downs in his Christian experience. Not all commentators agree about what Thomas meant when he said, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.” For example:-
    1. J C Ryle. Sees this statement as a residue of Thomas’s pre-conversion temperament – something that remains with us all. He deems it likely that Thomas is so discouraged that he is ready to just give up and die.
    2. William Hendriksen has an entirely different viewpoint. Agreeing that Thomas has a rather melancholic personality, (John 14:5) Hendriksen nevertheless thinks that what we are seeing here is great courage!

So, different people have tried to assess Thomas’s motives here. You can make up your own mind. If this was courage it was certainly temporary, for look what happened at the cross: Matthew 26:56

Applications & Uses.

  1. A real friend can speak plainly to us. Jesus spoke plainly to the disciples – he was doing it for their own good and to correct their misapprehensions. Sometimes we need to do that too!
  2. If death is compared to sleep why would we ever fear it? Jesus uses the term ‘sleep’ to describe death, perhaps to help us to take away our fear, to help us to realise that there is nothing to alarm us when we reach the end of this earthly life, for we will fall asleep, only to re-awaken in the immediate presence of God, to a New Day and a New Dawn in a place where there shall be no more night!
  3. Christians are all different! Like Thomas and Mary and Martha, but we have so much in common, as brothers and sisters in Christ.
  4. If faced with a difficult situation, would we be prepared to follow Christ, whatever the cost? Real courage is to do what is right before God, whatever the cost, even if we are scared witless about what the end result might be.

© Bob McEvoy

From → John

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