The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 11:1-44 - “Lazarus - come forth” - Part 1

John 11:1-44 - “Lazarus - come forth” (part 1).
v1,2 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 

v3,4 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." 

v5,6 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 

v7 Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 
v8 The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?" 
v9,10 Jesus answered, "Are there not 12 hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 
But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 
v11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, 
"Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." 
v12 Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." 
v13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 
v14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. 
v15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him." 
v16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him." 

v17-19 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about 2 miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 
v20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 
v21-23 Now Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 
v24 Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 

v25,26 Jesus said to her, "I am the Resurrection and the Life. 
He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 
And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 
v27 She said to Him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world." 

v28-31 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, "The Teacher has come and is calling for you." As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him. Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, "She is going to the tomb to weep there."

v32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." 

v33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 
v34 And He said, "Where have you laid him?" 
They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." 
v35,36 Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how He loved him!" 
v37 And some of them said, "Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?" 

v38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. 
It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 
v39,40 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." 
Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 

v41-43 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me." Now when He had said these things, 
He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth!" 

v44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. 
Jesus said to them, "Loose him, and let him go." 

After the Feast of Dedication (January AD 33) they tried to arrest Jesus, but He escaped and went into Perea, beyond the Jordan (10:40). From there He toured Perea, before His return to Jerusalem to raise Lazarus in March AD33, about a month before Passover AD 33 when He would die on the Cross for us as the Passover Lamb of God.

This was the 7th Sign of Jesus in the Gospel of John and the greatest so far. It reveals His victory over our greatest enemy -death. One sure statistic in life is that one in one person dies. Death seems to be victorious over the whole human race. But we believe in a God who raises the dead! Jesus Himself has conquered death. Our faith in God should be limitless, for we believe in a God who raises the dead. Whatever hopeless situation we might be facing, it is not too far gone. Sometimes we may think that things have got so bad, that it’s so far out that it is even beyond God’s abilities to turn things around, but we believe in a God who raises the dead! 
If He can raise the dead, He can get you out of your mess, He can turn your sickness around, He can turn your finances around, He can turn your family around. Death to us is the final word, the ultimate, but it is not the last word for the God of resurrection and He proves it in this chapter.

“Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha” (v1). This was a progressive sickness. Everyday he was getting a bit worse. Lazarus had an interesting name for it means: ‘God is my help’ and this came to pass as we shall see. He is called: ‘Lazarus of Bethany’, which is significant. Bethany means ‘the house of the afflicted one’. Lazarus is a picture of all men, born in sin, hopelessly afflicted under the curse of death. Sin is like a sickness, progressively causing spiritual death, then physical death and finally eternal death (eternal separation from God’s life). 

God had warned Adam that the result of sin was: “you shall surely die”, which literally is: “dying (spiritually) you shall surely die(physically)” (Genesis 2:17). Without Christ we are all spiritually dead in Adam, and heading for physical death. Physical and spiritual death are closely connected, for they both denote separation from life. The separation of the body from the life of the spirit (physical death) and the separation of the spirit from the life of God (spiritual death) are parallel events. Thus they are often mentioned together in describing the curse of sin. Moreover the salvation of our spirit (our spiritual rebirth when we receive the eternal life of God), and the salvation of our body (in the future resurrection) are also often described together in similar language. 

For example, Jesus said: "(1) Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has eternal life, and shall not come into judgement, but has passed from death into life (our spiritual rebirth into life). Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the (spiritually) dead will hear the voice of the Son of God (through the Gospel); and those who hear (believe)will live. 
(2) "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming (it is still in the future) in which all who are in the graves (the physically dead) will hear His voice and come forth -those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:24-29). 

Again: "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone
(1) who (by faith) sees the Son and believes in Him (as the Son of God) may have eternal life (the rebirth of his spirit); and 
(2) I will raise him up at the last day (the resurrection of his body) ... 
Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood 
(1) has eternal life (in his spirit), 
and (2) I will raise him up (physically) at the last day” (John 6:40,54). Here, Jesus claims to have the power to overcome and reverse both spiritual and physical death as the Lord of both life and resurrection, so death does not have the last word. 

In this story we will see that Lazarus is a picture of all men, under the power of death, both spiritual and physical death. Like Lazarus we were born into the house of Adam, the house of affliction, the house of sin and death. But thank God, death does not have the last word. For ‘Lazarus’ also signifies that ‘God is our Helper’. 
God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the house of the afflicted ones. Jesus was afflicted with our affliction. He died for our sins and rose again as the victor over all phases of death. Even before that, by raising up Lazarus, Jesus demonstrated through this ‘sign’ (which is a miracle with a message) His total dominion over death and proved His power (ability) to raise us up from death to life. He proved Himself to be both ‘the Resurrection’ (from physical death) and ‘the Life’ (for the spiritually dead). 

The resurrection of Lazarus is a picture both of our spiritual rebirth and of our physical resurrection. It is a foretaste of these greater miracles, which could only be accomplished after Christ’s resurrection as the first fruits from the dead. Bethany was one of the places where Jesus spent much time, for it was just 2 miles east of Jerusalem. So when He visited Jerusalem at the Feasts, He would stay there with some of His best friends: Mary and Martha and Lazarus. They had made Him truly welcome in their house. We have seen them before in Luke 10:38-42. Martha’s busyness had meant she did not have time to hear the Word of God, but Mary was commended by Jesus, because she had put first things first and sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him. 

It was their brother Lazarus who was getting sicker: “it was that Mary, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick” (v2, see John 12:1-9). Mary was clearly well-known to the first Christians, being clearly identified by her act of abandoned sacrificial worship, pouring out thousands of pounds worth of perfume upon Jesus, anointing Him for burial (see Matthew 26:6-13). It seems like the women who really loved Jesus were all called Mary (His mother Mary, Mary Magdalene and this Mary of Bethany). 

“Therefore his sisters sent a message to Jesus to Him saying: “Lord, behold, he whom you love (‘phileo’ denoting a brotherly, affectionate love) is sick” (v3). That is a lovely request. Jesus loved everyone with the God type of love, but Jesus was a human being too, and so there were certain people that he really got on well with. He just loved Lazarus and they had a good time together. And so they didn’t even need to ask Jesus to come and heal him, they just knew it was enough 
to say: “Jesus, the one that you love is sick.” Because Jesus loved Lazarus, they knew He would surely come and help him. 

“When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but (is an opportunity) for the glory of God (the manifestation of His power), that the Son of God may be glorified through it (He will be revealed as the Resurrection and the Life of men through the miracle)"(v4). Here we see Jesus as a man of faith. He shows us the spirit of faith. We will see that when the messenger had got to Jesus, He actually knew through the Spirit, that Lazarus had already died, but He wasn’t going to dwell on that or be defeated by that. Faith does not deny the problem, but it denies its right to have the last word. Faith acknowledges God in and over the situation, believing that He is greater and that He will have the final word. Therefore, faith does not dwell on the problem, but starts declaring the word of God. It sees and speaks the solution, the end-result, the will of God. 

By faith, Jesus said: “this sickness will not end in death, but God’s glory will be revealed, resulting in the Son of God being glorified.” Sickness and death is not the last word, for God has the last word.  Sickness is not something that glorifies God - but it is an occasion for the glory of God. This sickness, Jesus declares, will not have the end-result of death, but it will result in the glory of God (the manifestation of His power). He declares that God is going to turn this crisis around for good. When there is a crisis in your life, God will turn it around for your good and His glory. The great thing about believing God, is that every problem and crisis is a chance for God’s glory to show up, for His power to be manifested. Every difficulty calls us to believe God, that His power and glory will be manifested. Every emergency is an opportunity to trust God, to prove that His power is greater. Faith praises under pressure.

Notice that Jesus equates Himself with God: 
“(1) It is an opportunity for the glory of God, 
that (2) the Son of God may be glorified through it." 
Faith (1) sees any problem as an opportunity to trust God to work and show His glory, and (2) faith is motivated by a desire to see the Lord glorified as a result. Faith works by love. The purpose of miracles is to glorify God, so that men will believe and put their trust in Jesus Christ. 

But now an interesting thing happens: “Now Jesus loved (‘agape’) Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He heard that he was sick,He stayed two more days in the place where He was” (v5,6). 

This does not seem to make sense. When Jesus heard Lazarus was sick, He waited two more days - because He loved them! The word for love here is ‘agape’ - the God kind of love. Mere human love (‘phileo’) would have caused Him to rush to them, but He was constrained by a higher love, the God-kind of love. He was not controlled by need. He felt and sympathised with needs, but wasn’t controlled by them. He was led by the will of God. Why did He wait? He was following God’s will and timing. He prayed and waited on His Father, who didn’t tell Him to go yet. He wanted to meet needs, but He had to do it in God’s time. He knew God’s way was the best. God said to Him: ‘I want you to wait here’. Human pressure was: ‘get to Lazarus, I’ve got to help him’, but God’s love constrained Him, rather than human expectations. Jesus moved to the beat of a different drum. He wanted the best end-result for them rather than a quick-fix, which human love usually wants. Submit
 first to God’s will, then His love will show you the best way to meet needs 

Timing. Jesus was two days journey away from Bethany. Jesus waited 2 days and then went on the journey which would have taken Him two more days. So 2+2 = 4 days. How long had Lazarus been dead when He got to Bethany? 4 days (v17). So just about the time the messenger arrived and told Jesus that Lazarus was sick, Lazarus died. So Jesus wasn’t being callous in not immediately rushing off to Lazarus, for he was already dead. But Jesus wanted to perform a greater miracle, by raising him from death not after one, two or three, butafter four days (something unheard of), so that great glory would go to God. One interesting connection is with Luke 13:31-35, when He receives a warning to leave Perea because Herod Antipas, who governed Perea was out to kill Him. Jesus sent an answer that He would continue to travel and minister and on the third day reach Jerusalem. He spoke this on the very day He set off to raise Lazarus (see also page 84). The Jews had a tradition (myth), that the spirit of a man might hang around for three days after death, hoping to get back into the body. But when the body was too corrupted, it was pointless and so the spirit then left. So, by waiting 4 days, Jesus proved categorically He had Divine power to raise the dead. He could do the impossible. He could not just raise someone who was just dead, but someone who was dead, dead! When you feel like your ‘dead, dead’, when everything is wrong, and nothing is going right, then Jesus can also raise you up out of that. 

Reasons for the delay: 
1. The end-result was a greater display of God’s glory. 
Jesus would do a miracle that would establish their faith in Him, preparing them for the greatest sign - His resurrection.

2. Jesus gave Israel certain miracles that only Messiah could do, which proved He was the Christ.
 His final Messianic miracle was to be:‘the Sign of Jonah’ (Matthew 12:38-40) - a resurrection after 3 days. 

Firstly, He did this by raising Lazarus. This required Him to wait at least 3 days. The significance of this sign was seen in its effects, for many more believed in Him (v45), but the Jewish leaders now decided to kill Him, because after this sign, the proof was so strong, that they believed all Israel would turn to Him as the Messiah, and would rise against Rome resulting in the Romans destroying them and their loss their position, power and privilege (v47-53). (The reason John gave for the large crowds greeting Jesus as the Messiah at His triumphant entry soon after, was the resurrection of Lazarus - John 12:18).

Then He gave them the ultimate Sign of Jonah, by His own resurrection after 3 days. This was only a few weeks after the raising of Lazarus.

3. Another reason why God told Him not to go immediately, was that He would have walked into a trap. Going to Bethany at that time was very dangerous, because all the religious leaders were out to kill Jesus. Lazarus and his family were well-known (v19), and it was known that they were close to Jesus. The leaders were looking out for Jesus to come to Bethany, and were waiting to catch Him in their trap. After four days they assumed He was not coming, and so left, although they had their spies looking out for Him (v46). When Jesus arrived the immediate danger had passed, but He still had to leave quickly because of their plots (v54). 

Sometimes the Holy-Spirit might tell you - ‘don’t go there yet, wait’, and you might think it doesn’t make sense, but you might be walking into a trap. You need to wait for God, at such times, to give the green light. If He holds you back, He has a reason. By listening and following the Spirit, you’ll stay clear of satan’s traps. That’s what Jesus says in (v9,10).

“Then after that, He said to His disciples: “Let us go into Judea again” (v7). He was following God’s direction, and moving in God’s timing but His disciples got worried saying: “Master, the Jews recently sought to stone you and are you going there again?” (v8). “Jesus - don’t do it! You are going back into the lion’s den. They are out to kill you!” 

“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. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him" (v9,10).  Jesus is comparing the spiritual to the natural. He is talking about walking in the light of God’s guidance. The ‘light of this world’ (sunlight) is a picture of the illumination of God’s Spirit shining through Christ, the Light (the Sun). Jesus had said: "I am the Light of the world. He who follows (sees) Me shall not walk in darkness, but (will) have (possess) the light of life (within)" (John 8:12). We walk in the light by ‘seeing’ Jesus (the Light) by faith, for then the light of Christ is birthed ‘in us’ (we have the light of life, the life and illumination of the Holy-Spirit, within us). If we walk in the light of day (being led by the Spirit), we can see any stones, obstacles or traps that might trip us up, and avoid them, but if we walk in the darkness of night, we will stumble over these things and fall to our hurt. Jesus is saying: “I am walking in God’s will, I am walking in the light, for the Holy Spirit is showing me what to do. He is now leading me to go to Lazarus, and He will protect me from the enemy’s traps.” God may lead you to a dangerous place, perhaps involving sacrifice, but the safest place you can be is in God’s will. If you walk in darkness (out of God’s will), trying to live in safety and comfort and avoiding all dangers, you will fall and your life go wrong. 

“There are 12 hours in the day.” God had given Jesus ‘a day’, a definite period of time to fulfil His mission. While it was ‘day’ and He walked with His eyes open to the light of the Spirit, following God step by step, His enemies could not touch Him or trip Him up. God shows Him where to walk to avoid every trap. There was going to come a time of course when the 12 hours of day would come to an end, and Jesus would then enter into the darkness on the Cross, when He took our sins upon Himself, before rising again. Likewise for us, God has given us things to do in life and if we walk in the light we will not stumble, we will avoid the traps of the enemy and accomplish our mission. Sometimes it might get dangerous, but the enemy can’t touch us as we walk in the light. “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for God is with me.” But if we if we walk in the darkness (out of fellowship with God) we walk in danger. 

“These things He said, and after that He said to them: 
"Our friend Lazarus sleeps, BUT I go that I may wake him up" (v11). 
Jesus does not force them into danger. He announces He will go, but invites them to join Him, by pointing out Lazarus was also their friend. 

Here again we see the spirit of faith exemplified in Jesus. Faith does not deny the problem, but neither does it magnify it. Jesus acknowledged the natural facts, but in words that indicated this condition was temporary not permanent (‘Lazarus sleeps’). Faith does not deny the problem, but denies it the right to have the last word, for God has the last word. He said: “Lazarus sleeps, BUT I go to awake Him out of sleep”, “Lazarus is dead, BUT I’m going to do something about it - I go to raise Him up.” This is one of the wonderful BUTs in the Bible! (like Ephesians 2:4). We can say: “Yes, there is a problem, BUT GOD is greater and His power will turn it around!” When Jesus talked about Lazarus sleeping, it meant that he had actually died. But Jesus wasn’t a negative talker. He wanted to keep His talk positive, so He used the word ‘sleep’. This was a better word to use, for death means finality to us (‘it is all over’). But if we sleep, it may look like we are dead, but in fact our spirit is awake, just our body sleeps to arise again in the morning. 

That is really what death is like for the Christian. It is like a sleep. Our spirit-soul does not go to sleep (for we go straight into the presence of God), but our body goes to sleep until the resurrection morning, when we will hear the voice of the Son of God and arise. Death is temporary for believers, for Jesus has taken the sting out of death. God’s perspective on death is that it is just a sleep. It is not the last word. From this point ‘sleep’ became the standard Christian language for the death of believers. 

Now there is a bit of comedy, because the disciples don’t understand Him: “Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get well. However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep” (v12,13). They think He is not thinking straight. They honestly thought Jesus meant he had gone to bed. So, why can’t Mary and Martha wake him up, or even better just let him sleep, for they sleep was good medicine, for then your body can recuperate. They thought: ‘if Lazarus is just sleeping why should we risk our lives just to wake him up!’ 

“Then Jesus said to them plainly (because they could not understand His meaning, He was forced to say): "Lazarus is dead” (v14). He didn’t want to say ‘dead’, for it could create fear and unbelief in their hearts. He wanted to call it ‘sleep’ (a temporary condition, subject to change). He dwelt on the solution, rather than the problem. What good is staying on the problem, you’ve got to move onto the solution.

To every negative word Jesus gives the positive answer. He looked beyond the problem to see the end-result, God’s greater glory, and the strengthening of their faith in Him: “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, 
that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him" (v15). 

He was glad, because if He (Life) was there, Lazarus could not have died. He would have healed Lazarus, but now He will raise him from the dead,  which is far greater, resulting in their faith being all the more established. So, He is declaring in advance that He will raise Lazarus from the dead. He says: “Lazarus is dead, but I am rejoicing, because I’m going to raise him up. I’m glad it’s not just a healing. I’m glad for your sake, I have a opportunity to raise Lazarus from the dead after 4 days.” That is why this miracle is in the Bible, so that we might not just believe in God as our Healer, but that He is a God who raises the dead. He can turn your impossible situation around. I don’t care how bad your job, family, or health situation is, if He can raise Lazarus from the dead after four days, He can meet you in your need. He is greater than that problem you face. Jesus was glad that He could show that He is the God of the impossible, the God who is greater than anything that comes against us (1John 4:4). 

“Then Jesus said to them plainly: "Lazarus is dead.” When you are believing God, you don’t want to keep speaking the problem, because you want to express your faith in God, but notice that when there are people who needed to understand the situation, Jesus did tell them the facts. Faith in God does not deny the facts, but it denies their right to keep dominating you. If you are sick, you don't have to deny it, but you deny the sickness the right to stay in your body. You focus on declaring the greater fact of the power of God which is overcoming that sickness - that’s the spirit of faith. However, it’s no good going to the doctor and when he asks:“what’s wrong with you?”, you say:“nothing, I’m healed by the stripes of Jesus!” He will just think: ‘what are you doing in my surgery if you are healed?’ You’ve just got to tell him the facts. Jesus said: ‘Lazarus is dead’. That is the present fact, but faith goes beyond that, and says, “BUT God is going to do something greater, God’s power is greater than the sickness.” So it is not wrong to state the problem, but, like Jesus, don’t stop there. 

“Then Thomas, who is called the Twin (twin brother), said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with Him" (v16). 
He is known as doubting Thomas (‘twin’ could refer to him being double-minded), and here again we see his pessimism. But we also see His loving-loyalty and commitment to Jesus. The disciples knew how much the religious leaders hated Jesus, and Thomas was ready to die for Him. Later on, he became single-minded in his faith and love, and he laid down his life in taking the gospel to India.

“So when Jesus came, He found that he (Lazarus) had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother”(v17-19).  
Many mourners and comforters were there. Clearly this family was well-known. In those days, there were 30 days of official grieving (the burial was on the first day). For a week family and friends would visit and mourn together with the first 3 days being the most intense, often with wild crying 

“Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house” (v20). True to character, Martha is the action-girl and Mary the contemplative one. “Then Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v21). These are words of disappointment. If only Jesus had been there! She knew Jesus would have healed him, but would He raise him from the dead? She was unsure about that. But her faith was strong. She had some hope. Notice what she says next:“But even now (after four days) I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You (even Lazarus’ resurrection!)" (v22)  

“Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise (again)" (v23). Again Jesus confirms her faith, declaring in advance that He will raise Lazarus. Now Martha wants more clarification: “I know that he will rise again, in the resurrection of the last day” (v24). “Will You raise him now, Lord, or will you do it on the last day?” 

This draws some of the greatest words from the lips of Jesus: 
“Jesus said to her: “I am the resurrection and the life” (v25).
These are the triumphant words of Deity, of the One Who alone has final authority over life and death. He is saying: 
“No, I am not just talking of something in the distant future. I AM, the God of the eternal now! I AM here. The Resurrection and Life is here now! Lazarus won’t have to wait till the last day. Believe in Me.” 

“I am the Resurrection and the Life.” 
This is the essential verse, the key statement, the central claim of Jesus that He will prove by doing this miracle. This is what Jesus wants us to believe through this sign. This is what He is declaring down through the centuries to all men, for 

Lazarus represents all of us under the power of death. Jesus says to each of us: “I am your Resurrection and your Life.” Jesus did this miracle for our benefit, so that we would believe in Him as our Resurrection and Life (v15). When we die we shall rise again! When we are down, He will raise us up again. When we are in a trial, trap or temptation, He will give us life and show us the way out. He says: “Believe that I am the God of the Now.” He is your resurrection and the life right now. 

People can believe in a God of the past, who used to do great miracles. They can believe in a God of the future will do wonderful miracles one day. He will indeed raise the dead. But we find it harder to believe that He’s the God of the Now - that He wants to heal us, help us, intervene in our lives today. Do you believe in the God of the Now? He is the God: ‘Who is, was and is to come.’ Jesus Christ is: 'the same yesterday, today and forever.” He says to you: “I am your life and salvation, right now.”  

(1) “I am the Resurrection” refers to our future physical resurrection from physical death. Jesus claims: “I am the One who will raise you out of physical death into life.” 

(2) “I am the Life” refers to our spiritual resurrection from spiritual death (the spiritual is parallel to the physical, and so both resurrections are illustrated by the miracle Lazarus). This speaks of the New Birth when we receive His Eternal Life into our spirits, and we come alive with His life, so that He becomes our Life. He does not just raise us up spiritually from death into life, but continues to sustain us and impart blessing to us by His life within us. 

Lazarus is a picture of all men, hopeless and helpless, under the power of spiritual and physical death. Jesus declares Himself to be our Saviour from death on both levels. The resurrection of Lazarus is a picture and a proof of Jesus raising us up from both SPIRITUAL and PHYSICAL death, for He claims to be both the LIFE and the RESURRECTION. 

Jesus now explains His claim to be the Resurrection and Life: 
(1) ‘I am the Resurrection’: “He who believes in Me, 
though he may die (physically), he shall live (physically)” (v25). 
(2) ‘I am the Life’. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (v26).
Both benefits are for those who ‘believe in Jesus’. 

(1) This is the resurrection of believers from physical death, so that we will have a glorified body forever (this is called ‘the Resurrection of Life’). Although Lazarus was only ‘resuscitated’, rather than resurrected (he came back to life, but died again) his ‘resurrection’ by Jesus is a picture and example of v25. He was a believer in Christ, and though he died (physically), yet he lived again physically. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus proves to us that He can and will raise every believer from death into life. Jesus says: “Though a believer dies, yet he shall live, because I will raise him from the dead.” One day, if the Rapture does not happen first, you may die, but that is not the end, because He will raise you up into a glorious body for all eternity. He left Lazarus in death for four days, to show that even if someone is fully in the hands of death, He can and will raise them up on the last day. He is saying: “I am the Resurrection. I have power over physical death. I will raise every believer up from the dead. I’ll prove it by raising Lazarus!” 

(2) “And whosoever lives (physically) and believes in Me shall never die (spiritually)” (v26). He continues to talk about those who are physically alive, for it is only while we are alive that we have the choice and opportunity to put our faith in Jesus Christ. Speaking of those who believe in Him while alive on earth, He says: “they will never die.” Clearly this is not referring to physical death, so it must mean that we receive eternal life in our spirits, so that we are saved from spiritual and eternal death, and that if we die physically, we will continue to live on in God’s Presence. 

“You will never die - you will be born-again, your spirit will be changed from death to life. You were dead in your sins, but now you’ve been made alive to God and you will never die. Your spirit will live forever, for you have eternal, everlasting life, the life of God that will not grow dim or grow old. It is a life that renews itself constantly in the power of God. You will never die, but you will go from glory to glory.”   

In summary Jesus is saying: “Whoever believes in Me will experience Me as the Resurrection and the life. Though he is spiritually dead, I will give him My eternal, spiritual life and he will never die. If he dies physically, I will raise him up again physically.” Jesus declares Himself to be the Lord over physical and spiritual death. He declares: “I don’t just have the power over physical death, but also the (greater) power over spiritual death.” 

 “Then He said: “Do you believe this?” Notice her faith was important to Jesus. He wants us to believe that He is the Lord of life and Conqueror of death and that in Him we have the victory over death. He has defeated death, and wants to share His victory with us. When we believed in Him, He overcame our spiritual death, by giving our spirit a rebirth (2Cor 5:17, Eph 2:5). He will also overcome our physical death on the Last Day. He proved His power and loving intentions as our Life and Resurrection, by raising Lazarus. Thus we can know that Jesus is the Victor over death, our Deliverer from the power and authority (the jaws) of death. 

So: “She (Martha) said to Him: “Yes Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who should come into the world” (v27). Now that Jesus has got Martha into faith, which was evidenced by her great confession, He sends her to go and get Mary. “And when she had said this, she went away and called Mary, her sister, secretly (the sisters knew the danger Jesus was in from some of the Jews who wanted to capture Him) saying: “The Master has come and calls for you”, and as soon as she heard that she arose quickly and came to Him. Now Jesus was not yet come to the town, but was in the place where Martha met Him” (v28-30).  Jesus had remained on the outskirts of Bethany, in order to have private meetings with Martha and Mary, away from spying eyes.

“The Jews then which were with her in the house and comforting her, when they saw Mary that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her saying “She goes to the grave to weep there.” Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died" (v31,32).  

When Mary came to Jesus, she fell down at His feet. Every time we see Mary she is at Jesus’ feet - I think that’s a good place to be! This happened three times: once in worship (Matthew 26:6-13), once in hearing the Word (Luke 10:38-42), but this time in sorrow and grief. When we are in despair and grief, and we don’t understand ‘why’ some-thing happened, we should follow Mary’s example and fall at Jesus’ feet. Lay it all at Jesus’ feet! Mary uses exactly the same words as Martha: “Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.”In their grief together, they must have said this to one another, over and over, so that's the first thing that came out of her mouth! How common is that? They must have gone round and round in futile circles of ‘if only, if only, if only.’ I don’t think she was angry with Jesus, she was just disappointed. 

The emotion of Jesus going into war against death and satan: “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping and the Jews (who came with her) also weeping He groaned (with indignation) in the spirit and troubled (stirred) Himself” (v33). The word for ‘groan’ is also used for the snorting of a horse. It is indignation against the enemy of death. He is getting ready for battle, stirring Himself for action. Romans 8:26 talks of the Holy Spirit helping (literally: taking hold, joining together) with us in our prayers, against the problems,obstacles and opposing forces with groanings 

Jesus here facing the death of Lazarus sees the horror of death and destruction upon all men. We were designed to live forever. We weren’t made to die. Jesus was moved by His love for us, to go to war for us against this enemy, so that we might be delivered from him“who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). Physical death is just the outward sign that reveals the horror of sin. Sin’s full effects (the curse) go far deeper, namely spiritual death and eternal death. Jesus was coming against sin, satan and death. He was energised in His spirit, groaning in the face of the curse as He prepared to conquer the spirit of death over Lazarus. It was a sign and picture of what He would do for all mankind through His death and resurrection!

“And He said “Where have you laid him?” (He’s getting ready to take action) and they said to Him “Lord, come and see” (v34).  They just think He is going to look at the tomb. They are not expecting a resurrection after 4 days! Then it says: ‘Jesus wept’ (v35). This is the shortest verse in the Bible. He feels our pains, griefs and sorrows. He is angry at satan, sin and death, but has compassion upon all men. 

“Then said the Jews: “Behold how He loved him” and some of them said: “could not this man which opened the eyes of the blind have caused that even this man should not have died” (v36).  Now Jesus had come in for a lot of criticism: “He can’t have loved Lazarus very much, for He waited two days before coming.” Jesus walked to the beat of God’s drum, rather than other people’s expectations, so He was criticised for not caring. But seeing Him weep softened them. At funerals their funerals they judged how much you loved the deceased by how much you cried! So they thought: ‘at least He did care for Lazarus a bit.’ But their faith in Him was shallow. For they quickly doubted the sincerity of His love by asking: ‘If He really cared for Lazarus, why did He let him die.’ People often ask: ‘Why did God let my friend die, if He is love?’ You have got to have a deeper faith in God when you trust Him even when it looks like He is doing nothing. But as we see in this situation, the love of God (Jesus) was true, and He was doing His best for them. He has no lack of love, and no lack of power. He was going to do an outstanding miracle for them.   

“Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself comes to the grave, it was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance 
(signifying a rich man’s grave, just like the grave where Jesus was buried)” (v38). Jesus again groans in Himself because He is going to war against an enemy, the spirit of death.   

“Jesus said: “Take away the stone” (v39a).  Notice how God works together with man. Even though God was about to do a great miracle, He expected them to co-operate and do what they could do, trusting God to do what they could not do. Only God can raise the dead, but they could take away the stone, so He asked them to do that. Jesus needed the permission of Martha and Mary (the family) to open the tomb. He needs our co-operation of faith and obedience to work in our lives. Jesus was going to do this great miracle, but needed the faith of Martha and Mary to bring it to completion. Even if Jesus had raised Lazarus, if the stone had not been removed, the answer would not have been seen! Lazarus would have died again soon after. So, without our obedience of faith (corresponding actions), God’s (invisible) work in the Spirit cannot come into full manifestation. 

“Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, "Lord, by 
this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days" 

After her earlier good confession of faith, Martha was now wavering: “O Lord do you have to go in and see him, he stinks.” In the presence of Jesus, it is easy to believe, but away from Jesus it is easy to let natural things dominate and unbelief to slip back in (especially as she was surrounded by a worldly atmosphere of grief and unbelief). So, we must guard our heart by keeping His words with all diligence. We must put God’s Word first (Proverbs 4:22,23).  

 “Jesus said to her: “Martha, didn’t I say to you, that if you would believe you would see the glory of God” (v40). He is encouraging her back into faith by reminding her of His words. The first principle of faith is that faith comes and grows by hearing the Word of God (Rom 10:17). 

These words of Jesus were not previously recorded, but He must have told her: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God, you will see the manifestation of God’s power” or in other words: “I’m going to raise Lazarus from the dead.” Notice her faith was important: “if you would believe.” You believe first and then you will see (a lot of people want to see first, and only then they will believe). And so Jesus said: “Come on Martha, stop wavering.” He says to you: “Trust Me.” Martha and Mary trusted and obeyed Him: “Then they took away the stone from 
the place where the dead was lying, and Jesus lifted up His eyes and said “Father, I thank You, that You have heard Me” (v41).

He looks up to heaven. He’s looking above the problems, above the natural, above the crowd and the unbelief. He was making it clear that He was looking to God as the Source. In fact, He had already prayed and settled the outcome with God. He knew that God had heard Him and that He had received the answer that Lazarus would arise. This is the pattern for us. The victory is won in our prayer closet. That is where we receive the answers for our life. Then we walk out whatever we receive from God in prayer. Before Jesus did anything, He first prayed it. He received in prayer and acted out what He saw (received) from God. 

Our true life proceeds from God (Eph 2:10). Those who ignore prayer and Church (being too busy!) hurt themselves, because everything that does not proceed from God is wasted, for all such works will ultimately be burnt up. Look at the confidence of Jesus before God. Can you say: “Father, I thank You, that You have heard Me”, even before you have seen the answer?  That’s faith!

Jesus said that when we pray, we are to ‘believe that we receive it’ (in the spirit), and we would have it (visibly manifested) in due course: "Whatsoever things you desire, when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you shall have them” (Mark11:24). We can only have the confidence to believe we receive when we pray, if we know (1) we are asking according to God’s will (this assurance comes through His Word and His Spirit), (2) He hears us when we pray and (3) He sends the answer immediately in the Spirit upon hearing our prayer. Then we can know that we have the answer when we pray (1John 5:14,15), that we have believed we have received what we desire (Mark 11:24), that we have obtained the help, mercy and blessing we need from the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). 

When we have believed we have received, then petition turns to praise, 
our requests turn into thanksgiving, as Jesus said: “Father, I thank You.” Now you possess the answer in your spirit, so you don’t have to ask God for it any more.

Once we have received the answer in prayer, it remains for us to use our authority in the earth and speak (command) the answer into manifestation. This is what Jesus does next, but He does it in a way that gives God the glory: “And I know that You hear Me always(confidence because he always prayed according to God’s will), but because of the people that stand by, I said it that they (and us too)may believe that You have sent Me” (v42). 

He could have just spoken the command, but first He makes it clear that the miracle comes from God in answer to His prayer, so that God gets the glory. He does not want to get the glory for Himself as some kind of human magician or wonder-worker but rather He wants them to see His unique oneness with His Father, as the Son of God, the Sent-One. Jesus did not glory in His own power, but He gloried in knowing God. He prayed out loud, saying: “God I am trusting in You.” He glorified God. If you want miracles to happen through your life, you must let God get the glory. We must be careful to avoid giving the impression that we are doing something by our own power, when we are really just channels of God’s power. Like Jesus, we must make it clear that it is God doing it, so they will believe in God. So, when Jesus commanded Lazarus to ‘come forth’, He had already lifted the lid on His prayer-life (from 4 days earlier), when He had received the answer from God, so that we could see the Source of His power was God, and not His humanity. 

When we speak the word of faith, we must be speaking out something that God has already given us in the Spirit, for otherwise we are in independence, presumption or witchcraft. We must be conscious of trusting in God to bring it to pass.

“And when He had thus spoken He cried with a loud voice: 
“Lazarus, come forth” (v43). 
He had received the answer in His spirit, but how do you bring forth 
what is in the Spirit into the natural? It is done by speaking WORDS OF FAITH, as well as by other corresponding actions (speaking and acting as if the prayer was answered, as if it was coming to pass). After believing, we are to align our life (our planning, talking and walking) accordingly. As we patiently hold fast our faith-confession (of life and lips) in line with what we have received from God, His power is able to bring it forth into manifestation through us (Hebrews 6:12; 10:23,35,36). 

So Jesus spoke the answer forth. He commanded it to COME FORTH. He called life to come back into Lazarus’ body and called him to come out of the tomb (darkness) into the light. He spoke out by faith, what He had already received from God through faith. He spoke the desired end-result. It is by our words that we call and bring forth what we already have (received) in our spirit (Matthew 12:34-37).

When we do this, we are operating in the God-kind of faith. This is how God Himself works. For we are made in His image and are designed to operate in His kind of faith (Mark 11:22). God brought the universe to birth this way. He had the universe conceived within in His Spirit (Being), and then it came forth when He said (commanded): “Light be!” Only then did it come into manifestation. He brought forth what was inside Him to the outside by His words. He called it forth into manifestation by speaking it forth by words of faith. So, we give thanks to God for giving it to us, and then we bring it to birth (visible manifestation), by calling it forth. 

Jesus described this process of faith in Mark 11:22-24. He said: “Have the God-kind of faith”(v22). This is the faith that “calls (forth) those things that be not (visible), as if they were” (Rom 4:17). That is, by faith, we call them forth from the spirit into the natural, as God did at creation. Say: “Wisdom, come forth into my mind. Healing, come forth into my body. Finances, come forth. Blessing, flow forth.” By our words, we bring things out of our spirit (heart) into our natural life. We speak out (command) the desired result (both positively and negatively). 

We say: (1) “Answer BE!”, and (2) “Mountain, be removed!” (Mark 11:23). Jesus said: ‘we would have (manifested) whatever we SAY’, but only if we believe: ‘that those things we say will be come to pass’. That is, we can only successfully speak the answer forth, when we have first of all received it in our spirit. So now Jesus describes how that is done in v24: "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them (in your spirit), and you will have them (manifested).” 

Notice that ‘having’ is mentioned both in v23 and v24. To ‘have’ something in manifestation, we must (1) receive it from God through the prayer of faith (v24) and (2) speak that thing forth by the word of faith, believing that what we say shall come to pass (v23). Thus we will HAVE what we SAY, if we BELIEVE it (that is, if we have believed we have received it). Thus, having received something through prayer, there must also be corresponding words and actions to help bring it to pass.

Let us see this process in the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus had received the answer beforehand, for God had heard Him (v41), but there was no manifestation until He spoke and acted in faith. 

What did He do to bring it to pass?
(1) He spoke WORDS of thanksgiving to God (v41).

(2) He spoke WORDS of command calling forth the manifestation: 
“Lazarus, come forth” (v43).

(3) He spoke WORDS commanding the removal of any obstacles to answer being manifested (v39,44, cf. Mark 11:23)

There must be human co-operation in actions of obedience, for God’s power to flow fully into our natural lives. We must put actions to our faith, we act in line with the faith in our heart, we must act as if God’s word were true (that He is bringing it to pass). We don’t wait for the manifestation before taking action. If we make no corresponding actions, then our faith is unproductive (James 2:17,22,26). If they had refused to move the stone, God’s resurrection power in Lazarus would have not been seen. God’s power would have been released (invisibly) through Jesus’ faith, but it (the resurrected Lazarus) would have been blocked from coming into physical manifestation. For example, if you receive God’s blessing of prosperity over your finances, that does not mean you can just sit back and wait for the money to fall from heaven! You have to put action to your faith, for that (spirit of) prosperity to manifest (come through). God will bless the work of your hands.  
He will bless whatever you set your hand to. He prospers the diligent.

Thus we are to talk and walk in faith, acting as if God’s word to us is true, even before we can see it with our eyes.



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