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I Am The Resurrection and the Life - John 11:1 - 16

Posted on August 6, 2017

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

John 11:1 – 16

Scripture Reading:

John 11:1 – 4

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 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.”


  • Man’s ultimate priority on planet earth is to bring honor and glory to God the Father. That is what we were primarily created for and that echoes God’s desire as well.

Psalm 29:1-2

Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. 2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name.

  • “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” – Westminster Catechism shortened version
  • I have often thought about and wondered, what does it mean to glorify God from a man or woman’s perspective?

Purpose:  Every Christ follower must make it their goal in life that by faith to do all things to glorify the Father and for the glory of the Father

Transition: I start with this thought as we delve into this passage of scripture. We will see that Jesus says this is one of the purposes for this miracle

Seven Messianic Claims

  1. 1.    I Am the Bread of Life – Chapter 4
  2. 2.    I Am the Light of the World – Chapter 8
  3. 3.    I Am the Door of the Sheep – Chapter 10
  4. 4.    I Am the Good Shepherd – Chapter 10
  5. 5.    I Am the Resurrection and the Life – Chapter 11
  6. I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life – Chapter 14
  7. I Am the True Vine – Chapter 15

Background / Context

  • Chapter 11 of John’s Gospel records the last and most powerful of the seven miraculous signs in this Gospel

Seven signs or miracles in the Gospel of John

  • Turning water into wine – Chapter 2
  • Healing the Nobleman’s son – Chapter 4
  • Healing the Infirmed man – Chapter 5
  • Feeding the 5,000 – Chapter 6
  • Walking on the water – Chapter 6
  • Giving sight to the blind man – Chapter 9
  • Raising Lazarus from the dead – Chapter 11
  • The purpose of this story was not so much the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead although it is obviously a significant event for Lazarus, his family and loved ones.
  • The purpose was for God the Father and Jesus Christ to be glorified.
  • Chapters 11-12 are a bridge between Jesus public ministry and His Passion that He suffered at the cross.
    • Death is a horrible consequence of sin. Physical death is a divine object lesson for each of us.
    • We die physically because we are dead spiritually.
    •  There is a heaven to gain and hell to shun.

Romans 5:12

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned

  • Jesus had withdrawn from Jerusalem and Judea for three or four months now on the east side of the Jordan River
  • But now He was ready to go back and raise Lazarus from the dead

Transition: Let’s look at John 11:1 - 16

Purpose #1 for this story: For the glory of God and Jesus Christ – John 11:1 – 4

  • The request: Come heal our brother

 John 11:1-3

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.

  • Lazarus is a shortened name coming from Eleazer which means God has helped or helped by God which is a fitting name for this story. It was a very common name for that time.
    • So, John furthered I.D. the place and circumstances with saying that Lazarus was from Bethany which was about two miles from Jerusalem
    • It was the village of Mary and Martha – two sisters that you can read about in Luke 10:38-42
    • The reference here to Mary who anointed Jesus is yet to be written in John 12 but that event must have already occurred
    • Three BIG things happened as a result of Lazarus resurrection
      • This miracle unmistakably pointed to Jesus as being Deity
      • It strengthened the disciple’s faith
      • Led directly to the cross

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

  • We are not told what Lazarus sickness was but it led to His death
  • The sisters message was simple. No details given and no requests of Jesus
  • They may have been afraid for Him to come so close to Jerusalem because they thought He would be arrested and killed.
  • They just wanted Jesus to know since he had a deep love for Lazarus.
  • The response: I will come to glorify the Father

 John 11:4

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.”

  • Remember that at this point Jesus is a day’s journey away on the other side of Jordan. So here is the timeline of events in this story.

The schedule of events would look something like this, allowing one day for travel:

         Day 1—      The messenger comes to Jesus (Lazarus dies).

         Day 2—      The messenger returns to Bethany.

         Day 3—      Jesus waits another day, then departs.

         Day 4—      Jesus arrives in Bethany.

Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 334). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

  • Jesus said death would not be the final ending to this story
  • Like the blind man who was healed in John 9, this was meant to bring glory to God alone
  • This event would take the Jewish leaders over the top and lead to His crucifixion
  • The idea here is that the Father would be glorified and Jesus would be physically glorified after His resurrection and ascension to heaven
  • As I mentioned earlier, I have always wondered what it means for someone to glorify God. Here are some thoughts from some research and study I have done.
    • To “glorify” God means to give glory to Him. The word glory as related to God in the Old Testament bears with it the idea of greatness of splendor. In the New Testament, the word translated “glory” means "dignity, honor, praise and worship." Putting the two together, we find that glorifying God means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him honor by praising and worshiping Him, primarily because He, and He alone, deserves to be praised, honored and worshipped. God’s glory is the essence of His nature, and we give glory to Him by recognizing that essence.
    • He at times in the OT and NT revealed His glory in physical form i.e. The Tabernacle, the Transfiguration of Jesus.
    • The question that comes to mind is if God has all the glory, which He does, how then do we “give Him” glory? How can we give God something which is His in the first place?
    • The key is found in 1 Chronicles 16:28-29, “Ascribe to the LORD, O families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength, ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. Bring an offering and come before him; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.” In these verses, we see two actions on our part that make up the action of glorifying God. First, we “ascribe” or give glory to Him because it is His due. No one else deserves the praise and worship that we give to glorify Him. Isaiah 42:8 confirms this: "I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” 
    • Second, we are to “bring an offering” to God as part of the worship that glorifies Him. What is the offering we bring to God to glorify Him? The offering we bring to God as we come before Him in the splendor or beauty of His holiness involves agreement, obedience, and submission,
    • Another way we glorify God is by rehearsing His attributes and His deeds. Praying them, meditating on them.
    • In summary; to glorify God is to extol His attributes—His holiness, faithfulness, mercy, grace, love, majesty, sovereignty, power, and omniscience, to name a few—rehearsing them over and over in our minds and telling others about the salvation only He offers.
    • You and I need to remind ourselves over and over again that we are here on earth to seek God’s holiness, not our happiness and to glorify Him with our lives. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus!!

 “It is not important that we Christians are comfortable, but it is important that we glorify God in all that we do.” - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 334). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Illustration: We are told that in the prairies of South America there grows a flower that always inclines in the same direction. The traveler may lose his way while crossing one of those prairies, and he may have neither compass nor chart by which to steer his course; but, turning to this lovely flower, he will find a guide on which he can implicitly rely; for no matter how heavily the rains may descend, or how violently the winds may blow, its leaves and petals invariably droop towards the north. If, whilst we live, we sub serve a purpose analogous to that of this humble flower, we shall not have lived in vain. If we live to God, if we turn to him in faith, and love, and prayer, and service, as the prairie-flower turns toward the north, some seeing our good works, our comely life, will be led to "Glorify our Father who is in heaven. -- B. Wilkinson, F. G. S.

Application: Is your desire in your walk with Christ to give Him the glory alone?

Transition: Let’s look now at the second purpose for this miracle.

Purpose #2 for this story: To strengthen the faith of His disciples – John 11:5-16

  • Jesus waits to raise Lazarus

John 11:5 – 6

5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

  • Jesus had a close relationship with this family dropping in from time to time for visits and overnight stays as He ministered in their region.
  • Jesus delaying His visit to Bethany was not because He lacked love and compassion
  • But, from a human perspective it was puzzling as to why Jesus would wait two days to return to comfort His friends and to heal Lazarus.
  • The purpose of His delay was three-fold;
  1. 1.    To strengthen the sister’s faith
  2. 2.    To make it clear to all that Lazarus was dead.
  3. 3.    To show that the resurrection of Lazarus was undoubtedly a miracle.
  • One of the key principles we keep coming back to in this book is that Jesus is on God’s timetable not man’s.
    • When God waits to do something, He always has something bigger and grander planned for His glory and the benefit of the person.
    • According to midrashic tradition, the soul hovers around the body for 4 – 7 days before departing into eternity. This is called “shemira” in the Hebrew and is a watching or guarding of the body until the body is buried. The human soul is somewhat lost and confused between death and before burial, and it stays in the general vicinity of the body, until the body is interred. The shomrim sit and read aloud comforting psalms during the time that they are watching the body. This serves as a comfort for both the spirit of the departed who is in transition and the shomer or shomeret. Traditionally, shomrim read Psalms or the book of Job. Shomrim are also encouraged to meditate, pray, and read spiritual texts, or texts about death. Shomrim are prohibited from eating, drinking, or smoking in the shemira room out of respect for the dead, who can no longer do these things. – Wikipedia


  • Jesus willingly goes to Jerusalem to finish His ministry

 John 11:7 – 8

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?”

  • The disciples say to Jesus why should we leave our rest and the fruitful ministry that is going on around us to see our lives threatened by going near to Jerusalem? We are comfortable here!!
  • After all Jesus, you said in verse 4 Lazarus is not going to die
  • Besides, you could heal Lazarus remotely, right from here like you did the nobleman’s son.
  • If you and God loved Lazarus so much, why did you allow Him to get sick?
  • We need to be reminded that God’s love is not a pampering love but a perfect love. That is what this miracle from God shows us. Love and suffering are not incompatible

Quote: “We were promised sufferings. They were part of the program. We were even told, 'Blessed are they that mourn,' and I accept it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not imagination.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Quote: “It doesn't really matter whether you grip the arms of the dentist's chair or let your hands lie in your lap. The drill drills on.” ― C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

John 11:9-10

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.”

  • Jesus uses a metaphor here to explain a spiritual truth and he does it to calm the disciple’s fears
    • The Jewish people divided the daylight period into two twelve-hour segments. The length of the daylight time differed at different times of the year.
    • Twelve hours of daylight represented Jesus earthly ministry time as allotted by the Father
      • God knew the number of days Jesus would be on earth.
      • He knew how long it would take the Jewish leaders to get so incensed with anger that they would crucify Him. No one could change that time. That is an important lesson for us.
      • Jesus knew He was perfectly safe until the time of the cross.
      • You and I we live each day by faith.
      • God knows the number of days we will live on earth
      • Matthew 6 reminds us to be concerned only for this day that we are in because that is all we are promised.
      • He warns us in James 4 that we are just a vapor and to not be presumptuous with our plans because it is all dependent on God’s will and timing
      • We can live in confidence that we are indestructible until the day God calls us home.
      • The night signifies the end of Jesus earthly ministry
      • Notice in verses 9- 10 the word “stumble” and “stumbles” speaking of His imminent death, resurrection and ascension to heaven.


John 12:35

So Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.

  • He was saying that after He left, darkness would overtake them until the Holy Spirit came in Acts 2 on the Day of Pentecost
  • Jesus warning that Lazarus is already dead

 John 11:11-16

11 After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 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.”

  • After verse 10, He paused to let the thought sink in
  • Then He explained why they needed to go to Judea.
  • The disciples did not once again grasp what He meant. Why not just let Lazarus sleep, rest and recover on his own?
  • Jesus explains here the NT concept of sleep meaning death. God’s people seemingly sleep in their graves until the resurrection. Death is not final but a temporary condition
  • We see in verse 14 Jesus all – knowing capability
  • In verse 15, Jesus is not rejoicing in Lazarus death but the fact that He was going to resurrect him was going to be a much bigger deal than merely healing Lazarus.
  • Jesus was looking to strengthen the faith of His disciples.
  • With the end of Jesus ministry looming large, Jesus wanted to give His followers and especially His disciples a powerful support to hang their faith upon. One that was so big and so undeniable it would be memorable.
  • Seeing Jesus was determined to return to Judea, Thomas (Hebrew / name) Didymus (Greek name) meaning twin spoke up. We know him as being the doubting Thomas after Jesus resurrection.
  • Here we see his love, courage, loyalty and devotion to Jesus and his willingness to take the lead here and be willing to die with Jesus.
  • He shook off the pessimism of the other disciples and showed boldness
  • Yet when Jesus was arrested, he fled like the other disciples did but in this case Thomas was willing to follow Jesus to Judea to see Lazarus.

Application: When and how recently has your faith been strengthened?

Illustration: In 1971, the Afghan government gave a fledgling band of Christians permission to plant a church in Kabul. It was the only Christian church building permitted on neutral soil in Afghanistan. The Afghan government permitted this place of worship only for use among the foreign community; it was never to be used by the Afghan people.

One Sunday morning, only three years after the sanctuary's dedication, soldiers arrived and began to hack away at the wall between the street and the church building. One gentleman in the congregation went to Kabul's mayor and prophetically warned, "lf your government touches that house of God, God will overthrow your government!" The mayor responded by ordering the congregation to turn over their church for destruction, thereby eliminating the need for the Afghan government to pay compensation.

"This building does not belong to us but to God," the people of the church replied. "We can't turn it over for destruction." And they proceeded to serve tea and cookies to the soldiers who were destroying their place of worship.

On Tuesday, July 17, 1973, the Afghan soldiers completed their destruction of the church building. That very night, King Mohammed Zahir Shah, who had ruled for forty years, was overthrown in a coup, and the 227-year-old monarchy in Afghanistan came to an end forever. The rest of that story is told in the history books. - Editor's Note: This story is relayed from eyewitness accounts in a short biography of that church's pastor, a missionary and then a seminary professor named J. Christy Wilson.

Key Thought: God’s perfect timing is meant to bring the greatest glory to the Father and the best for His chosen children

Three Questions to Ponder

  1. Are you willing to wait for God’s perfect timing?
  2. Are you giving God all the glory He deserves?
  3. In what area of your life today do you need your faith strengthened

“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me.  With God in charge I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So there is nothing to worry about.”  - Henry Ford