Today’s passage: John 11:1–44
Focus verse: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” (John 11:25)
Here we have a story of Jesus and three siblings. They are Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Jesus has great affection for them and sometimes hangs out at their house. Word reaches Jesus that Lazarus is sick, deathly ill.
Yet, Jesus doesn’t head out right away to heal his ailing friend. He waits, saying, “Don’t worry. Lazarus’s sickness won’t lead to death but is to glorify me.”
Jesus delays his departure for two days before he heads out. His disciples are apprehensive, noting that this will take Jesus back to where his Jewish opponents tried to stone him. Jesus insists on returning. He says, “Lazarus is sleeping, and I’m going to wake him.”
This encourages the disciples, who assume that sleep is a sign that Lazarus is getting better.
Jesus clarifies. “Lazarus is dead. Let us go to where he is.” He also makes a vague statement to his disciples that it was good for them he wasn’t present when Lazarus was sick. This will somehow help them believe. How confusing.
As Jesus and his band of followers approach the city where Lazarus once lived, sister Martha hears of his arrival and runs out to meet him. “If you had been here,” Martha says, “he wouldn’t have died. But even now I know God will answer your prayers.”
Jesus promises Martha that Lazarus will rise again. She agrees. But she assumes Jesus means her brother will rise to life on the last day.
Again, Jesus clarifies what he means. “I am the resurrection. I am the life. If you believe in me, you will never die.” Martha confirms she believes and goes to fetch sister Mary.
When Mary reaches Jesus, with the throng of mourners in tow, she falls at his feet. “If you had been here,” Mary says, “he wouldn’t have died.”
Jesus asks, “Where is he buried?”
They take him to Lazarus’s tomb, and Jesus weeps. Then he commands them to roll away the stone that seals the grave’s entrance.
After a debate about how much a four-day-old corpse will stink, Jesus tells them they must believe. Then he thanks Papa for hearing his prayer and the miracle that’s about to happen.
“Lazarus,” Jesus commands, “come out.”
At that, the once-dead Lazarus staggers out of his tomb, burial linens still wrapped around his body. What a shocking sight to watch the dead man lumbering forward.
Jesus says the obvious. “Remove his burial clothes, and let him go.”
As we might wake someone from their sleep, Jesus wakes someone from the dead with equal ease.
This isn’t the first time he raises a dead person, and it won’t be the last. The ultimate resurrection comes when Jesus defeats death through his once-and-for-all sacrifice by raising himself from the dead.
His resurrection gives us life.
- Why do you think Jesus has so much affection for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus?
- What should your attitude be if Jesus doesn’t respond right away to your requests?
- What do you think will happen to you when you die?
- How willing are you to worship Jesus and fall at his feet when you feel he let you down?
- How does Jesus’s resurrection give you life?
Discover more about the power and promise of Jesus’s resurrection in Acts 2:29–32, Romans 6:5, 1 Corinthians 15:20–22, 1 Corinthians 15:42–44, Philippians 3:10–11, and 1 Peter 1:3–5. What insights can you glean from these passages?
Read the next lesson or start at the beginning of this study.
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.