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The Raising of Lazarus. Part 3. John 11:17-24


I am the Resurrection and the Life
Text: John 11:17-27
Jesus and His disciples have left the safety of Galilee and gone to Bethany, and the narrative now moves on to the arrival of the travellers at Lazarus’s home. What will they find when they get there?

1. What Jesus Found at Bethany!
Now to really get a picture in our minds of what Jesus would find when he arrived at Bethany requires that we find out just a little about Jewish burial customs. For this purpose, a great resource is Alfred Edersheim’s ‘Sketches of Jewish Social Life’. It’s really helpful for background.

  1. Burial was almost immediately after death. So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Cf Acts 5:10 Burial was immediately after death, probably for hygiene reasons, and the mourning was conducted after the actual burial, not before.
  2. The cost of burial. This is not directly referred to in the text before us, but we see an interesting incident in the very next chapter. John 12:3-7 In first century Judaism, funerals were a costly business, probably financially ruinous in some cases!
  3. Periods of mourning. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Now notice that when Jesus arrived at the home, many of the Jews had joined the women at the home.

It was in those circumstances that Jesus returned to the home at Bethany which he had visited before in times of happiness and rest. Let’s look at a conversation between Martha and Jesus:-

2. The Resurrection and the Life! 20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Let’s listen in to her conversation:

  • Her blunt greeting. “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. This is the kind of blunt speech that you would expect from Martha, – if only Jesus had been here! But what emotion lies behind this outburst from Martha?
  • Her total faith in Christ. Despite her regret that Jesus was not there before Lazarus died, look at her total faith in Christ when she says But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
  • Her understanding of truth. 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Martha had more theological and doctrinal awareness than some Jews! Yet while Martha was aware of something of the person of Christ, and simple Christian truth, there was much more that she needed to know. For example, How wrong they were in thinking Jesus needed to be at Bethany for Lazarus to be healed. Jesus’s power to heal didn’t depend on his immediate physical presence! Col. 2:9

It is then that we reach one of the most profound statements of all. Now, here is one of those great ‘I am’ statements made by Jesus – evidences of his divinity. There are seven of them altogether. They all occur in John’s Gospel, and every time they occur, they are a statement of his divinity. Exodus 3:14. In these ‘I am’ statements Jesus is saying to the Jews, I am He who spoke to Moses at the burning bush! I am your God! In response to her belief in the resurrection, Jesus adds a statement on why and how the resurrection can take place…it’s only because of HIM!

  1. All life comes from Christ! 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He is the Lord and the Giver of Life, for He is God, who created us out of dust and breathed life into our very being, Jesus is the source of life. John 1:4 John 5:26 1 John 5:12
  2. Life and the unbeliever! ‘Life’ for the unbeliever is a process of dying! Mark 8:36 Real life is only found in Jesus. He raises the dead to life, every time he awakens a soul, and regenerates that soul and gives it new life, and that new spiritual life from above shall never end.
  3. Death and the believer. Death for the believer is a progress to living! Like the ungodly, the Christian will die, but unlike the unbeliever that is not the end of a pointless, self serving life of death, – it is a continuity, for the new life that has begun within us extends into eternity. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. We are His, both now and forever. Phil 1:21

Do YOU believe this? I ask, only because as soon as Jesus has made this amazing statement, he challenges Martha, as He challenges us. Do you believe this?

3. Martha’s Faith Confessed! 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
Martha did believe it! Look at her confession of faith. Compare this with Peter’s declaration of faith in Matthew 16:16. Both confessions declare that Jesus is the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ, the Only Begotten Son, who the almighty God send forth into this world to redeem His people from sin and this is what Martha confesses as her personal faith and belief.

Applications and Uses.
Believers, like Mary and Martha, are both sinners and Saints, filled with faith and susceptible to weakness. We ought to pray, “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief!”
Many of us know Jesus, we know that he is the one and only Saviour, and we know that he is God’s only begotten Son, but do we have some appreciation of his power and authority?
Can we Confess Christ, as Peter did and as Martha did?

© Bob McEvoy

From → John

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