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The Death of Lazarus John 11:1-45

Chapter 11 of John brings us to the 7th of the 8 signs of Jesus. As with all the signs there are several levels, and we will try to tackle each of them as we go through this chapter. On the surface, we see Christ raising the dead, thus showing God’s power over death and to prove to everyone that Jesus is the Messiah.

1 Corinthians 15:55-57 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Going deeper, we see that, with Christ, we don’t die, that He is the Light of the World, and if we go still deeper, we will see the death of the priesthood and how Jesus let the priesthood die so that it could be brought back to life anew after the order of Melchizedek (in the Old Testament, or Melchisedec in the new Testament).  With that said, let’s dig in.

John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

Lazarus in the Hebrew tongue is Eleazar, which is the name of Aaron’s son who took over the priesthood. This isn’t a coincidence. God wants us to see the connection between the priesthood and Lazarus, who is soon to die. The story of Mary and Martha is in Luke 10:38.

John 11:2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

This story can be found in Luke 7:36.

John 11:3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

We know that, at this time, the priesthood was sick, actually dead since the office of the high priest was sold and the rightful high priest was kicked out and forced to go to Egypt. This left many of Israel crying out to the Lord for help.  Thus we will see, in this instance, that Martha and Mary are symbols of Israel and Judah, the two sisters that won’t be rejoined together until after Christ returns (See Ezekiel 37).

John 11:4 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.

We have to remember that this all happens for God’s glory.

John 11:5 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.

Why did He wait? In part it was make sure Lazarus had died and was dead long enough that nobody could say he recovered from a sickness, and that nobody could cheapen the miracle, but we must also remember that when we are given a specific number of days, especially in John, it’s to point to a deeper meaning. Keep that in mind as we move along.

John 11:7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. (8) His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

Remember this was just in the last chapter.

John 11:9 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 a big lesson that we all need to learn. If you are doing a job for God it’s going to get done. You don’t have to worry about knuckleheads getting in your way. If you walk with Him and in the light, you can navigate around the rocks in your life just fine.

John 11:11 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 whole exchange reminds me so often that God tells us things and we just don’t get it until we force Him to spell it out. If you’ve felt stupid or on the wrong page with the Father don’t worry because He is patient and the disciples weren’t any better.

John 11:15 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 miracle is going to be a sign for us and Jesus is saying that He is thankful that we have it because, by our very nature, we are faithless creatures who need to see to believe.

John 11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Didymus means twin, and what he is saying is that if Jesus is going to where they want to kill Him then he wants to go and bring on the fight.

John 11:17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

Jewish tradition taught that the soul lingered about for three days, thus by waiting until the fourth day, it made it impossible for the pharisees to say that the soul simply returned to the body, or that Lazarus was somehow otherwise resuscitated.  That of course is all on the surface of what Jesus is trying to show us here. Remember:

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

Thus, if we count days from God’s perspective we are talking 4000 years which is the same as the time from Adam to Jesus.

Now I told you before that Lazarus represents the priesthood in this instance and that the priesthood was sick.  It needed to die so that it could be reborn after the order of Melchizedek.

If you are not familiar with Melchizedek I encourage you to read Genesis 14 and Hebrews 5-7. Later, I’m sure we will do a study on this.

John 11:18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: (19) And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. (20) Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. (21) Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

This clearly shows Martha has very strong faith that Jesus can heal the sick, but remember God is everywhere, so there was a purpose to all of this.

John 11:22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Again she shows her faith. She knows that even though Lazarus is dead God can bring him back to life at request of Jesus, but I feel that she is almost afraid to ask for something this spectacular.

John 11:23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. (24) Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Again you can see that even though Martha believes that God through Jesus could do anything. It’s something that she doesn’t think God WOULD do, thus she thinks He is speaking about the last day.

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: (26) And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

And here He is clearly speaking about a spiritual resurrection of all believers so you can’t blame her for thinking as she does.

John 11:27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (28) And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. (29) As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. (30) Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

Naturally when Mary heard that Jesus wanted her, she went.

John 11:31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

Again this is natural.

John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Here she is almost accusing Him of his death.

John 11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, (34) And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

To say that He groaned really doesn’t cover it, so let’s pull up this word.


From G1722 and βριμάομαι brimaomai (to snort with anger); to have indignation on, that is, (transitively) to blame, (intransitively) to sigh with chagrin, (specifically) to sternly enjoin: – straitly charge, groan, murmur against.

Long story short, this means He was ticked. Can you guess why?

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

This is the shortest verse in the Bible and is often quoted, but few know or care to pause to note why Jesus wept.

John 11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

They simply do not understand.

John 11:37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

Now we know why He wept. They didn’t have any faith, and quite frankly a lack of faith infuriates Him. Isn’t it human nature to just cut into someone and complain about how someone else could have done better and how they should’ve done this or that, instead of looking to themselves and to God to ask what they themselves could’ve done?

John 11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

This second “groan” is certainly done for emphasis, but I also wonder how much He hated to do a miracle around so many that lacked faith. Often He would have them pulled from a room, or would have told someone not to tell the story, but here, everyone sees.

John 11:39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. (40) Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? (41) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

It’s easy to overlook how much Jesus stopped to thank the Father. It is so easy to get caught up in something and forget to thank Him. Always take the time to thank Him.

John 11:42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. (43) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. (44) And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

John 11:45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

Again, they knew the stories. No doubt some of them had even seen some of His other miracles yet it took someone returning from the dead for them to believe in Him.  Does that make Him love them less? No, but it certainly ticks Him off and it is certainly a blessing to believe when you don’t see. Remember Thomas?

John 20:29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Far greater the blessing come to those whom believe first. Also, God doesn’t just leave you hanging either. He will build your faith. You just simply need to provide the seed of that faith.

With that, we will stop here for today. When we return, we will see the reaction of the religious community.

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