Study Notes - The Death of Lazarus
December 17, 2017
1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
This is the first mention of Lazarus, Mary and Martha. It is assumed we know who they are from the synoptic Gospels. This is a long chapter; 57 verses. At the end of this chapter, Lazarus is risen from the dead and joins Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. That is the account of Jesus riding on the foal of a donkey and children shouting Hosanna, etc. which is what we call Palm Sunday of Holy Week.
2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
That anointing made Judas furious. The oil was expensive. Judas said it could have been used to care for the poor. Jesus responded that the poor will always be with us but not He.
3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
This is a prayer. The intention is that Jesus do something but they don’t specify what He should do. This is similar to Mary at the wedding feast in chapter 2. They have no wine. The intention is that Jesus do something but Mary leaves it to Jesus as to what should be done.
4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
Jesus heard the prayer. Faith has to do with promises that can’t be seen. Glory has to do with what is seen. Jesus is going to do something that people will see with their eyes. In response to what they see, God will receive the praise of the folks. The glory of the Son of God will be His crucifixion. Jesus keeps pointing to that as His glory. So the raising of Lazarus will cause people to praise God and get Jesus killed.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
Lazarus needs to die before He can be raised. Jesus is about to do a great miracle that will cause many to believe He is God.
8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
His disciple are afraid. Perfect love drives out fear.
9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
This is the common way of speaking of a work day. Jesus still has work to do. 4 I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world (Jn. 9:4-5 KJV). Jesus sees the dangers clearly as one who can see obstacles clearly in the light of day. The obstacles won’t get Him killed until He decides the time is right. We do not see clearly because of our sin. Let us trust that Jesus clearly sees the end of our trials and hardships even when we cannot.
11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
This is an example of what Jesus said in the previous lines. The New Testament often refers to the death of a Christian as sleep. It does not mean that the Christian is not dead. It means that a resurrection to life will happen for the person like a sleeping person will awake in the morning.
15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
This fits the purpose of the entire book of John. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. (Jn. 20:31 KJV)
16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
He is known as doubting Thomas. We should call him unbelieving Thomas. However, even unbelieving Thomas will believe in Jesus when resurrected Jesus meets Thomas in the locked upper room. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. (Jn. 20:27-29 KJV)