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Raising Lazarus: What Kind of Miracle? Human or Divine?

Week 11 John 11:1-12:11: Raising a Man Who Has Been Dead for 4 Days

(Link to Outline of John) (Link to the first lesson of Gems in John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Parallel Passages: No Parallels

 

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“Robert Langdon [to Sophie Neveu near end of film, “The Da Vinci Code”]: … But, Sophie, the only thing that matters is what you believe. History shows us Jesus was an extraordinary man, a human inspiration. That’s it. That’s all the evidence has ever proved. But… when I was a boy… when I was down in that well Teabing told you about, I thought I was going to die, Sophie. What I did, I prayed. I prayed to Jesus to keep me alive so I could see my parents again, so I could go to school again, so I could play with my dog. Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t alone down there. Why does it have to be human or divine? Maybe human is divine. Why couldn’t Jesus have been a father [not divine, not the Son of God] and still be capable of all those miracles?” (Quotation from the movie version of The Da Vinci Code)

Langdon’s Words Directly Contradict John’s Thesis–

What do you think? Is a human being capable of raising a man who has been dead for four days?

ESV  John 11:17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

A Dramatic Event

Can you tell briefly what happens in this section of Scripture? In other words, describe the miracle.

 

Can you spot?

…how this chapter is different than any chapter so far in the Gospel of John? (My own thoughts are at the bottom of Section 4 — Jesus Himself)

 

Sections

1. Jesus and his disciples

2. Jesus and the sisters

3. Jesus himself

4. Jesus at the internment site–the miracle

5. Jesus and the Jewish people

–those who believed and were glad

–those who believed and were angry

………………..

1. Jesus and His Disciples

Questions:

A. How did Jesus and the group of disciples relate? For example: Was the relationship robotic? (Did the disciples mindlessly do as they were told?) Was the relationship dictatorial?

In answering, consider the following sets of verses:

John 11:7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”

John 11:14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (Who seems to be getting the group actually moving? Was it Jesus or someone else? What do you make of that?)

B. What emotion do the disciples express when Jesus suggests they all go back to Judea? (see verses 7-8 above)

C. How does Jesus comfort them? Can you translate into your own understanding verses 9-10?

John 11:9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

Suggestions: 1–Jesus is the Light of the world. As long as he is with the disciples, that is, before he is crucified, nothing will happen to them. His “time has not yet come.” 2–Further, Jesus knew in advance all about the amazing miracle he was about to perform (John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”). He knew that by going to Bethany, located within two short miles of Jerusalem, he would be walking in the will of God for him. Walking in God’s will and favor is like walking in the day–it is safe and secure. The more specific and clear the communication from God concerning his will in a given situation, the more assurance of light and safety the Christian will have. Walking apart from God’s will or favor is like walking in the dark, a time when stumbling occurs. Unbelievers do not have the light of Christ in them.

2. Jesus and the sisters (John 11:17-33)

Jesus meets and speaks with each of the two women one at a time somewhere at or near the village and away from the house.

Questions:

1. The conclusion expressed in several commentaries is that when each of the sisters separately said to Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” (Martha in vs 21 and Mary in vs 32) they were not blaming him of neglect or lack of caring. Why do you think each of these women made this statement?

2. Why might Jesus have met the women one at a time?

3. How does this speak to your heart about your relationship with the Lord?

4. What, if anything, were they expecting when they spoke with Jesus?

5. How would you describe Martha’s faith? Did she experience any challenges? Do you think her faith grew or changed in any way as the story progresses? (See vss. 11:21-22, 24, 27, 28, and 39)

3. Jesus Himself

Questions:

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A. What do you learn about Jesus from the following verses?

John 11:3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”

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

John 11:11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”

John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

John 11:38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.

B. Compare and contrast the verses from Question A with those from Question B. What do you notice? How would you characterize what each set of verses teaches about Jesus?

John 11:4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

John 11:6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

John 11:11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”

John 11:15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

John 11:23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

John 11:40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

John 12:7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial.

C. Note: Both the world and the church have for two thousand years probed and discussed the manner in which Jesus Christ encompasses both human and divine natures. A technical sample of the discussion can be found here: Council of Chalcedony, 451, Section V and a modern presentation here: Desiring God .

D. Question: As you spend time with God in prayer and Scripture, spend time thinking about his love toward humankind, and especially about his love for you in particular. What does the union of God’s divinity and humanity in Jesus Christ tell us about his love? For example, Jesus in the Gospel of John is omniscient, knowing all things, even what Nathanael was thinking (John 1:47-49). And we learn from Luke that Jesus knew and predicted what Peter would do and say later in the day (Luke 22:34). Jesus is eternal (Matthew 28:20) and (John 17:8-11). That means that he is alive and omniscient right now. He can read and know each one of our thoughts and the feelings in our hearts–right now! And he is also human. He had human friends, and he cried when they were hurting and died. He knows first-hand from the weakness of human flesh what our suffering feels like. And he wants to help. That’s why he left heaven, came to us, and died on the cross.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

4. Jesus at the internment site–the miracle

Jesus had been staying at Bethany across the Jordan. After waiting the extra two days from when he first heard that Lazarus was sick, he and his disciples travelled to a different Bethany, located just two miles outside Jerusalem (a short walking distance from where the angry people had recently tried to stone him to death.)

Location 1: Bethany “…across the Jordan [at] the place where John had been baptizing at first” (John 10:40) This is approximately twenty miles from the location of Lazarus and the sisters.

Location 2: Bethany near Jerusalem (a different Bethany) (John 11:18) This Bethany lies within two miles of Jerusalem (not a long walk).

This is the narration John gives of the miracle.

John 11:34 And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man also have kept this man from dying?” 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” 44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

Questions:

1. What happens?

2. What words did Jesus say after they rolled the stone away and before he told Lazarus to come out? (see vss. 41-42)

3. Does the picture at the top of this post match the picture you formed in your mind as you read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead?

4. Did Jesus ever enter the tomb? Did he touch Lazarus in any way? Why do you suppose he did this miracle in just the way he did it?

 

(My answer to “Can you Spot?” above: This chapter is one of the few, or only, chapter in John, and perhaps in the gospels, which gives a look into Jesus’ personal life as a man. For example, how did he relate to his disciples when not on the public stage? Did he have friends? What were his friendships like? John prior to this point has focused on showing that Jesus is divine. Yes, he does demonstrate Jesus’ divine nature magnificently in this chapter, and beyond this, he shows that Jesus is human, just like you or I. He is the one-of-a-kind, totally unique, God-man.)

 

5. Jesus and the Religious People

Throughout the Gospel of John, we’ve seen a division among the religious people, who in Jesus’ day were Jewish, just as he and his disciples were. Interestingly, no one doubted the fact of the miracles Jesus did. We saw this when Jesus healed the paralyzed man (Link to Week 5 Part 2), when he fed the 5,000 people and later talked about the meaning (Link to Week 7 Part 4), and when he gave sight to the man born blind (Link to Week 9). In the same way, when Jesus called Lazarus out from his tomb after he had been dead four days, the whole countryside, including the religious leaders, believed that he had really done so. Lazarus was there to tell them himself. Some believed and were glad, receiving Jesus as their own, while others believed and were angry, plotting how to destroy not only Jesus but Lazarus, the living evidence of the miracle (see below).

A. Some believed and were glad.

John 11:45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him,

John 12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him…12:9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

B. Some believed and were angry.

John 11:44 The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” 45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.

John 11:46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

John 11:53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

John 11:57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

John 12:9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.

So was Robert Langdon correct in his personal assessment of Jesus? (see quotation at the top of this post)  What do you think?

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I would love to hear your replies to this question. You can use the Comments section at the bottom of this post. Just to be fair, I will tell you up front that I believe Jesus is who he said he is–the eternal God himself.

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