John 11= Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!
Bible Background: This is the 7th and climactic ‘sign’ Jesus does in the Gospel of John. It’s also his biggest “I Am” statement: I am the resurrection and the life! Mary & Martha appear also in Luke 10 (where Martha is feeling overworked, while Mary listens to Jesus). But this is not the same Lazarus as the beggar who appears in Luke. The name Lazarus means “God helps.”
Going Deeper: 1. “Love” is a big theme in John. One whom Jesus “loves” falls terminally ill. He also loves Mary and Martha! When word reaches Jesus that Lazarus is ill, Jesus delays going. Why? We aren’t sure. There is personal risk for him to go back to that area. The religious authorities have been wanting to stone him! (Sadly, after this raising of Lazarus, they plot to put him to death.) We’re invited into the raw emotion of this story. We’ve all had a loved one fall ill, and die. Likely, we’ve all wondered “where is God?” in the midst of a health crisis or loss. This story starts with the love that binds Jesus and these friends together.
2. Jesus does decide to go to be with the family (even though we are informed that Lazarus is already dead.) The disciple Thomas, speaks boldly “We’re going with him, even if it means we die with him!” When we do experience the ‘absence’ of God, is God/Jesus in some way trying to get to us?
3. Sister Martha hurries to meet up with Jesus. She dares to say what she feels: “Lord, if your had been here, my brother would not have died!” Is that a lament? A statement of trust in Jesus? Or both? Martha also states that she believes there will be a resurrection, one day. When Jesus says to her “I AM the resurrection and the life” her faith shines! “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are…..”
6. Mary then also comes to meet Jesus, and offers the same complaint or word of trust. Jesus is as emotional in these verses as he is anywhere in the Gospels. He did come, after all, to be with us in all our joys and sorrows. Jesus weeps. And the audience notes “See how he loved him!” It’s genuine!
7. They go to the tomb, with mourners in tow. Jesus orders the stone removed from the cave entrance. Martha tries to stop this. The ‘stench’ of death is all over this scene! But it doesn’t stop Jesus. He prays to his Father in heaven. (We’re reminded this is why God sent Jesus, for moments like this!) And he shouts “Lazarus, come out!” Like a walking mummy, Lazarus walks out of the tomb! Jesus tells the astonished friends to “unbind him, and let him go!” Oh, how I wish we could hear Lazarus say a few words!
Some food for thought: What do you think of this present tense “I AM the resurrection and the life?” (As opposed to “I will be one day!”?) What does that mean for how we live now?
Will we all die? Of course! How does this story offer us hope that death is not the end of the story?
Is it possible that the love of God is even stronger than the power of death? If so, what might that mean for our faith and for our living?
Can we, at the saddest moments of our lives, trust Jesus? Trust that Jesus is somehow with us? That Jesus can bring new hope and new life out of the worst situation?