This Chapter is the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I have always been curious about how Jesus was able to hear Father’s instructions and feel so confident that He was following directions implicitly. My desire is that I would be given ears to hear like He had.
A couple of years ago, I noticed in this chapter and in chapter 12 what I have referred to as the three signals.
I’m sure that there were other signals along the way, and Jesus was always aware of whether or not “His hour had come.” But these three signals stood out to me.
The first signal was when Jesus received the news of Lazarus’ illness. Jesus’ response was immediate. (V. 4) He said, “This sickness is not to end in death; but [on the contrary] it is to honor God and to promote His glory, that the Son of God may be glorified through (by it).” It seemed that He was aware of wheels being set in motion.
v. 5 describes the love of Jesus for Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, so it is a little surprising that v. 6 begins with the word “therefore” …”Therefore….He still stayed two days longer …where He was.” Possibly the disciples assumed that fear kept Jesus from going to heal Lazarus, because two days later, when Jesus said it was time to go, they warned Him that the Jews only recently were intending to stone Him. (v.8)
Jesus reply is a bit puzzling at first, He answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? Anyone who walks about in the daytime does not stumble, because he sees [by] the light of this world. 10. But if anyone walks about in the night, he does stumble, because there is no light in him [the light is lacking to him] Jesus’ references to light are always of interest to me. In this passage He is letting them know that He is the light, and He knows exactly what action to take and where it leads so there is no uncertainty or cause for concern. When taken with his statement in 12:35 it also lends strength to the idea that Jesus had received a signal that the process has begun that will lead up to the ending of His temporal life. In ch.12:35 Jesus is talking about his death and he makes the statement, “You will have the Light only a little while longer. Walk while you have the Light [keep living by it], so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes [he is drifting].
This is another incidence of “the tur.n” It seems he is talking about daylight, but what He is really saying is “I have the light of another world…Light from my Father, so I will be that light for you. You can follow me trusting that I know what to do and why…” They don’t really trust Him though, as evidenced by Thomas’s statement, in v. 16 Let us go too, that we may die [be killed] along with Him.
In v 23 Jesus tells Martha that her brother shall rise again, and in an interesting twist, she spiritualizes the meaning of His promise. Jesus says in v 25 “I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live.” He has told the disciples that He is the Light, and He told Martha that He is the Resurrection and the Life. This takes me back to chapter one where the statement is made, (v.4) “In Him was Life and the Life was the Light of men.”
Jesus has turned from the natural to the spiritual now too, and he goes on in v26, “And whoever continues to live and believes in (has faith in, cleaves to, and relies on) Me shall never [actually] die at all. This makes me think of Enoch of whom it is said (Hebrews 11:5) that he was “caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death.” But it could also refer to the fact that the death of the believer will be like Christ’s death…which was actually a resurrection to the life that he had previously had with The Father.
I wonder why Jesus wept. He had deeply disappointed three people who He considered beloved friends. Although Jesus was not a “man pleaser” it must still have been painful to have seemingly been unresponsive to those who had trusted Him and hoped for His help. He must have had empathy for their feelings. Still He knew what God’s plan was…to raise Lazarus up… v. 33 says, “He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.]” v. 38 says He repeated sighed and was deeply disquieted. Perhaps He was dismayed at the fact that people seemed to have no hope after death…that it was such a thing of dread” But it seems to me that His passion began here.
I love it where Jesus prayers are recorded. Here, He spoke to Father as a demonstration to the people. He was already in complete unity with Father’s plan, but He said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard me. Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger].”
He raises Lazarus…with a word. What God purposes to do…he speaks….and it is done.
The Jews go back to Jerusalem and report to the chief priests and Pharisees, and almost immediately, the plot is initiated to kill Christ. They said, v.48 If we let Him alone to go on like this, everyone will believe in Him and adhere to Him, and the Romans will come and suppress and destroy and take away our [holy]place and our nation (our temple and city and our civil organization). Once again, there is a choice to be made and the elite choose the institution over the truth. In v. 50 Caiaphas, the high priest,(and unwitting prophet), makes the statement that it is better for everyone that one man should die on behalf of the people than that the whole nation should perish. v. 51 says, “Now he did not say this simply of his own accord [he was not self-moved]; but being the high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was to die for the nation. V.52 And not only for the nation but also for the purpose of uniting into one body the children of God who have been scattered far and wide”
No doubt Caiphas meant something quite different than what God meant in having him make this prophesy. No doubt he meant that if they got rid of Jesus, the Jews would be drawn together again, instead of splintering off. But God’s meaning alludes to the “one flock” of John 10:16. “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” Jesus had to die in order to expand the range of the gospel beyond the limited context of the Jews. (the third signal shows this as well)
v.53 “So from that day on they took counsel and plotted together how they might put Him to death.” And Jesus was careful about appearing in public from then on because although He knew the wheels were in motion, leading Him to Calvary, He had two more signals to receive before His hour…