Jesus said, “You are about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him [Lazarus]” (THE MESSAGE John 11:15).
THE MESSAGE: John 11:1-48
In Your Bible: John 11:1-48
Jesus was beyond the Jordan
Only a few times does the Bible mention how much Jesus loved friends. Lazarus was one of them. He lived in Bethany, where his sisters Mary and Martha also lived. Jesus was teaching on the other side of the Jordan, when he heard Lazarus was sick.
New Reasons For Believing
He said, “This sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son”…but oddly, when he heard Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. After two days, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea” (THE MESSAGE John 11:4-7).
Here THE MESSAGE brings out Jesus’ emotions better than most versions. The disciples thought Lazarus was asleep. Then Jesus became explicit – “Lazarus died! I’m glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You are about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him” (THE MESSAGE John 11:14,15).
When Jesus finally got to Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days. They had already prepared his body and taken it to the grave. Martha said, “Master if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now, I know whatever you ask God he will give you” (THE MESSAGE John 11:21,22). She thought it was more than odd that he took so long to arrive after getting word. She was distraught.
Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life
Jesus replied to Martha, ….“I am, right now, the Resurrection and the Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all….”
(THE MESSAGE John 11:25,26).
Mary came to Jesus and fell at his feet weeping. The Jews with her were also weeping. Jesus wept too. Jesus heard the crowd say he’d done many miracles for others. Others among them said, “Well, if he loved him so much, why didn’t he do something to keep him from dying? After all, he opened the eyes of the blind man.” This made Jesus angry, then he said, “Remove the stone” (THE MESSAGE John 11:38).
Note: Of the forty-six Bible versions I checked (BibleGateway.com), only THE MESSAGE, Living Bible, and Eyewitness used the strong word angry for Jesus emotions toward the crowd and their comments at the tomb of Lazarus.
Thinking logically, the sister of Lazarus, Martha said, “Master, by this time there’s a stench, he’s been dead four days.”
Jesus looked her in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God? Go ahead and take away the stone” (THE MESSAGE John 11:39-41).
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here, I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me” (The Message John 11:41,42).
Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out (THE MESSAGE John 11:43,44). The only thing left to do was unwrap him. Glory!
Application: Jesus knew his task was to bring God glory. He made sure all knew Lazarus was dead. This odd act of waiting successfully challenged unbelief of all who were present. God got the glory in raising Lazarus to life.
Prayer: Father, help me see your desire in things around me. Show me how to take action and be your instrument to meet needs of people around me.
Question: Why do we balk when we know God shows us to do something odd…. Something that would make us look awkward or maybe even foolish? If God directs us to do or say anything, why don’t we do it?
Map from: Baker’s Bible Atlas, Charles F. Pfeiffer, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1961,1973,1979, p.190.
Picture from: Tomb of Lazarus from The Holy Land, Plurigraf-Narni-Terni, Riproduzion Vietata, Finito di stampede, bel febbraio, 1975.