John 11:17-44 Giving Life To Bodies & To Faith

by | May 30, 2024 | John, New Testament

I. The Setting Vs. 17-19

1. V. 17 Lazarus had died on the same day that Jesus got the message of his illness.
2. The Jews believed that within three days the soul might return to the body.

a. It seems that Jesus intentionally delayed coming until Lazarus had been dead four days.
b. This would have eliminated any superstitious belief about Lazarus’ resuscitation.

3. V. 18 In coming to Bethany, Jesus put Himself in danger of those religious leaders in Jerusalem that wanted to kill Him. Bethany was only 2 miles from Jerusalem.
4. V. 19 It was the Jewish custom to mourn with family members and friends.
There were probably many mourners who made this short trip from Jerusalem to Bethany.

II. The Sisters Vs. 20-27

A. Martha’s Faith Is Challenged

1. V. 20 From Luke 10, we know that Martha was an active person, while Mary was more reflective and introverted. We see Martha going to meet Jesus while Mary stayed at home
2. V. 21, 22 Martha’s limited and circumstantial faith is seen here.

a. She believed that Jesus could heal, but not from a distance.
b. It never occurred to her that Jesus could give life to a dead man.
c. She is not rebuking Jesus, for she knows that Lazarus died the same day the messenger left, but her only clear scenario for hope was that Jesus would have been there while Lazarus was still alive. That scenario was where her faith could exist.
d. “But even now…”. She expresses hopeful faith, but is not sure what to hope for.
e. Martha had hoped for a specific outcome, which didn’t come to pass.
Now she is shifting her expectations on to the person of Jesus, instead of an outcome.

3. V. 23 Jesus tells her that her brother will live again. He seems to say it in an oblique way.

a. Jesus seemed to speak in oblique ways at times, leading people to more faith.
b. In Mark 9:21-23, when talking to the father of a demon possessed boy, Jesus didn’t immediately heal the boy, but drew faith out of the father first.
c. Application- Jesus does that with us as we pray and hope for a certain outcome.
He leads us from hoping for an outcome, to simply hoping in Him.

4. V. 24 The Jews believed in the resurrection of all people, some to glory, and others to
judgment. Martha spoke what was a widely accepted truth among the Jews.
5. Vs. 25, 26 Jesus brings the discussion to the needed place: having faith in Him.

a. Jesus claimed to be the Author of physical life, and the one who raises the dead.
b. Jesus is the power behind the final resurrection of all dead people at the end of the age
c. He will raise all people to life and then will come the final judgment.

i. 2 Timothy 4:1 the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom.
ii. 1 Peter 4:5 They will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

d. Those that die in faith have been declared forgiven; those who die rejecting Jesus will be judged and condemned for their sins.
e. V. 26 JFB- The temporary separation of soul and body is here regarded as not even interrupting, much less impairing, the new and everlasting life imparted by Jesus to His believing people.

i. Is this a reference to the Rapture of the church? (See 1 Corinthians 15:50-55)

f. Martha had faith in a theological truth, but Jesus redirects her faith to Himself, for He was the power behind that truth. Jesus is the object of our faith.
g. V. 27 Martha expresses her confidence in all that Jesus is, even if she doesn’t understand all that that includes.
Application- Do we trust Him even though we don’t understand what he is doing?

B. Mary’s Grief Is Shared Vs. 28-34

1. Vs. 28, 29 Jesus seeks to comfort Mary, and Mary quickly and eagerly responded.
2. V. 30 It seems as though Jesus tried to avoid the crowd of mourners from being there.
3. V. 31 The mourners were not privy to where Mary was going, but it was their intention to stay with her no matter what. They assumed she was going to the tomb.
4. V. 32 Here we see the more emotional Mary expressing her love and grief as she falls at Jesus’ feet. Martha was more controlled, Mary more emotional; they said the same thing.
5. V. 33 We see Jesus responding to all the grief and mourning that He sees.

a. Groaned- a protest, a charge against, a remonstrance. (spirit was the object of protest)
b. It is that Jesus groaned within Himself, within His own spirit, and protested within Himself, there was a charge that He leveled against or within Himself.
(See John 13:21; Mark 8:12)
c. What were the possibilities of this protest?

i. He protested against the weakness of his humanity that wanted to scold, mourn excessively, or escape from this grievous experience.
ii. He protested against what may have been hypocritical mourners.
iii. Against the temporary victory that sin and Satan won in the death of Lazarus

d. V. 34 In His humanity and divinity, he is not hindered, but moves forward.

III. The Miracle & Those Nearby Vs. 35-44

V. 35 Wept- to weep silently. Jesus wept, but he held back, didn’t lose control.
V. 36 The supporters partly understand Jesus’ tears, but not all His heart
V. 37 This may have been said sarcastically, in contradistinction to those who supported
V. 38 Jesus again groaned within Himself (protesting what he saw, felt, knew was wrong)
V. 39 Lazarus has been in the tomb long enough for decomposition to begin.
We have seen Martha’s faith in Jesus as Messiah, but here she questions what He is doing
This would be a humiliating thing of Lazarus’ stench came forth.
She is protecting his memory, and herself and Mary from embarrassment.
Martha is the guardian of Lazarus’ remains.
Jesus’ command doesn’t compute with what she knows of reality.
V. 40 Jesus asked Martha to go against her natural instincts, to believe, and see God’s glory.
She could have run. She could have commanded it to stop. But she stayed and waited.
Vs. 41, 42 Jesus prayed aloud so that all there would know that what He did, He did as he called upon the name of the Father. Some accused Jesus of working by Satan’s power.
This was intended to help those who saw the miracle to believe in Jesus.
V. 43 It has been suggested that had he not names Lazarus, all the corpses would have come.
V. 44 Some who stayed got to be a part of the loosing of Lazarus after Jesus gave Him life.
Metaphorically- Jesus uses us to help people be untangled after He gives them life.

Life Group Questions

1. Has God ever directed you to stop hoping for an outcome, and just hope in Him?
2. Connected to #1: How has God showed you to not hope for an outcome, but hope in Him?
a. Through a word from the Bible? b. Counsel from a friend? c. Some other way?
3. Have you ever been in Martha’s situation, protesting what God wants to do, but going through with His plan, and seeing something amazing happen?
4. Have you ever been or helped someone be untangled and “loosed from their grave clothes”?