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John Chapter 11:1-28  

Memory verse for this week: 2 Cor 11:30  If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.


Introduction: Last week we saw Jesus teaching on His Deity and found the Jews so upset that they took up rocks to stone him.   Jesus asked them for what good work did they stone him (because no one could deny all of His good works).  They said it was not for the good works, but for the blasphemy of claiming to be equal with God.   But He was telling them the truth. John 10:30  I and my Father are one. John 10:38  But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.



I.                    The Raising of Lazarus 

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

Chapter 11 is sort of a transitional period in the Lord’s ministry. His public ministry seems to begin a transition into a private ministry.  I mean by this that he seems to now direct Himself to individuals rather than reaching towards the whole nation.   The one big issue and question that really needed to be answered was: “Can Jesus raise the dead?”  He had healed all sorts of sickness, fed multitudes with just a handful of food.  He had taught with authority, preached the Gospel, but could he raise the dead?   Death is a great mystery, and many do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.   But his morning, I have hope in life after death.  Because I believe Jesus Christ, and know that he did die and rose again. 

We see that Jesus was always concerned for those about him.  We are going to find something unique about this story.   I never remember Jesus having to check his appointment calendar to decide whether He had time to go and help those that beckoned.  He always came, and he came right then.  That is the difference in this story.  We find in verse 6 that after He was told that Lazarus was sick, that he abode where he was for two additional days before He came to help.  Did Jesus not care for Lazarus?   He really cared for both he and his sisters, Mary and Martha.  He many times came and stayed with them when he traveled through Bethany.   So why did Jesus delay coming when they begged Him to come?  It was to accomplish a great miracle to make many come to know that Jesus was the Christ.   We may not always understand what is happening or why we are suffering, but God has reasons for all things.  We need greater faith to never doubt our Omniscient Lord.    

We know Jesus had taught earlier that those who are sick need a physician.     

Mat 9:12  But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.   

And if we need a physical doctor for these things that befall us in the flesh, how much more do we need Jesus to heal our spiritual sickness.  Until we know Jesus as Savior, we will always be under the bondage of sin.  But Jesus is the Great Physician, who can heal all of our sin debt. 

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.) 

Do you remember the story about Mary who had wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair after anointing him with the ointment.   Mary loved the Lord very much, and I know Jesus had a special love for all of this family.  

Mark 14:3  And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

Mark 14:4  And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made?

Mark 14:5  For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

Mark 14:6  And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.

Mark 14:7  For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

Mark 14:8  She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.

Mark 14:9  Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. 

We claim and say we love the Lord, but I doubt we ever would had He not loved us first.  We were Christ’s enemies, and yet He died in our stead. 

1 John 4:19  We love him, because he first loved us. 

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

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.

John 11:5  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

John 11:6  When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 

We see that Mary and Martha sent word that “he whom thou lovest is sick.”  It says in verse 5 that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.  And if you are a child of the King, He loves you.  And if you are here and don’t know Jesus as Savior, He loves you too.  Jesus came and died that all men and women might go free from the curse of sin.   The law never gave us the ability to be saved, it just showed us how sinful we are and how short we come to the glory of God.  But Jesus came to give us life, and like we read last week, to give us life more abundantly.   

Jesus told those around him that the sickness of Lazarus was not unto death, but unto the glory of God.     J. Vernon McGee said  “Sometimes God lets things happen to us for His honor.  We need to learn that we are not the center of the universe—nor is our home, our church, our town.  The headquarters of everything are in heaven, and everything is running for His glory.  Nothing will come into our lives without His permission, and if He permits it, it is going to be for His glory.”   

Some have died to pave the way for you and I to have the freedom to come and study the bible.  We can proclaim the Gospel today because men and women were willing to die for what they believed.   Perhaps the day will come when we may be faced with that decision.   Christians are looked down on in society today.   But are we willing to live for Jesus?  To live a consecrated life is difficult.  But we need to be willing to crucify the flesh every day and live to Christ’s honor. 

John 11:7  Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

John 11:8  His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 

Note that Jesus said they should go into Judaea again.  They had been there, and forced to leave because they had threatened to stone Jesus.   The disciples fear for their lives, and question if this is a good idea.   Has God ever led you to go do something that made no sense whatsoever.  And deep down you know that is isn’t going to work out right.  But if we step out on faith, God blesses and things turn out right when we are in the Will of God. 

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.

John 11:10  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.   

Jesus was about to do the Father’s work, and nothing would stop Him.  When you and I have a work to do for the Lord, and the power is coming from the Son, and we are reaching out to others like the branches from the true vine, not even Satan himself can stay us.  Like Jesus said, there are 12 hours in a day, and we need to be about working while it is light.   He says a man walking at night will stumble.  I believe there is a spiritual conation to this also.  Unless we really know the Savior, and are walking in His light, we will forever stumble through this life.  But get your feet on the solid rock, Jesus Christ, and you have a foundation that no man can shake.  Life may have its storms, but we will stand the test when we have the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.   

1 Cor 3:10  According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

1 Cor 3:11  For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 3:12  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

1 Cor 3:13  Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 

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.

John 11:12  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

John 11:13  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

John 11:14  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

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. 

Jesus tries to diplomatically tell the disciples that Lazarus has died, but they take it that he is just taking a nap.  Verse 12 shows that they thought the sleep would do him well since he was sick.  And that makes sense since we normally do rest more when we are sick.  But Jesus speaks it straight on to them in verse 14 that Lazarus has died.   And we see Jesus not sorrowing, but telling them that this was done for a reason.. so that they might truly believe Jesus was who He claimed to be.  John Calvin had this comment about “For your sakes that I was not there.”  By this Christ means that it was good for them that he was not there since his power would have been less obvious if he had helped Lazarus at once.  The closer God’s deeds approximate to the normal course of nature, the more they are despised and their glory is diminished.  We experience this daily.   If God stretches out his hand at once, we are not conscious that he is helping us.  So if the disciples are to acknowledge the resurrection of Lazarus as a truly divine work, it had to be delayed, so that it might be very different from a human remedy.   God’s fatherly kindness is reflected to us.  When God allows us to be overwhelmed with distress and to collapse under this for a long time, we should recall that through all of this God is concerned about our salvation.  During those times we naturally groan in anxiety and sadness, but he Lord rejoices for our good.  He shows us a double kindness in not only pardoning our sins, but joyfully  devising ways of correcting them. “  I would also add that after we are saved, these trials all have meanings and may be bringing us to a greater level of service.


II.   Jesus’ True Character is Revealed 

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

This comment by Thomas is not clear, whether this is a comment of despair about going down to die with Lazarus for seemingly no reason.  Perhaps it was a statement of faith making known that they were willing to go with Christ even if it meant their own death.   We should not be so concerned about this earthly tabernacle that we fail to get involved in God’s work.  We should realize like Abraham that this truly is not our home, and be ever mindful to be about God’s tasks in our day to day life. 

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

John 11:18  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

John 11:19  And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 

We see that Bethany and Jerusalem were in close proximity to one another.  The distance between the two cities was less than 2 miles, so many of the friends of the family had come down from Jerusalem to comfort the sisters.  Because Jesus delayed his coming, Lazarus had now been dead and in the grave for four days. 

John 11:20  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

John 11:21  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 

We see that two days transpired before the Lord left to go down.  This could speak of the 2,000 years that have passed since our Lord died there on Calvary.  The four days of Lazarus being in the grave may speak of the 4,000 years before Jesus came to the earth.  Six days altogether, from the beginning of time until the resurrection.  Time is allocated for us, but God has perfect time for all things.  We see Martha coming out of the city to meet Jesus.  Perhaps she was concerned for Him due to the threats from the Jews.  Maybe she just wanted to talk to Him more privately.  We see she first complains, which is what we so commonly do when things don’t go the way we want them to go.  “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”  This is like a two way meaning.  It is an acknowledgment of the great powers Jesus had in healing, but yet it was like pointing out that Jesus should have been there. 

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

John 11:23  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

John 11:24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.  

What confidence that Martha has in Jesus.  Would you and I show this much faith if Jesus stood here before us today.  She says that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, He will give it to you.   Do we have any promises of God answering prayer.  Even we, humble servants of the Lord have great power with God when we pray.

 Mat 21:22  And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. 

Jesus does not scold Martha, but in love, says “Thy brother shall rise again.”    Jesus’ patience and ability to see past the human frailties is wonderful.  Martha agrees that Lazarus will rise again at the resurrection on 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:

John 11:26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

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.

John 11:28  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. 

No greater power has ever been demonstrated than for Jesus to die, go into the grave for three days and three nights, and resurrect and come up from the grave.  All other religious leaders who have started great religions have died, and their bodies are still in the tomb.  But not our Lord.  He is risen, alive, and seated at the right hand of the Father today, ever living to make intercession for us. Read those powerful words again in verses 25 and 26.   This is the crucial decision in every man and woman’s life.  Will you believe this?  Mary believed, and it was counted unto her for righteousness.   If you don’t know Jesus as the Risen Savior, come to Him today.  Like Martha and Mary, you too can know that Jesus is the Christ, the only begotten Son of God. 


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day. 



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