I would like to share a bible study with everyone on the raising of Lazarus, John 11. Split into two parts, Part one is - Jesus, Part two - Martha and Mary.
John 11 The raising of Lazarus In this account by the Apostle John, he writes that Jesus was a friend of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Lazarus was the brother of both Martha and Mary, Martha and Mary were sisters. Lazarus was sick at that time (John 11:1), he died of his illness and his sisters mourned his death. To show the glory of God, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
Part 1: Empathy - Jesus. John writes that leading up to Lazarus death, the Jews had tried to stone Jesus (John 11:8). News came to the disciples and Jesus that Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, was sick and dying. Jesus, fore-knowing what was to come said to them, this sickness will not lead to death, but for the Glory of God, (that is God glorified, through the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead) and the glory of the son (In that they believe in Jesus, whom God had sent) John 11:4. After receiving the news that Lazarus was sick (John 11:3), Jesus stayed where he was for a further two days, before saying to his disciples, let us go to Judea (John 11:7). Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep and I will go and wake him (John 11:11).
Jesus foreknew Lazarus had died, but the disciples though Jesus was saying he was just sick and sleeping. Jesus explained to them that Lazarus had died (John 11:12-14). The disciples said to Jesus, the Jews in Judea tried to stone you (John 11: 8) and Thomas (also known as Didymus) one of the twelve apostles said let us also go with him, that we may die with him (John 11:16). Possibly meaning that if they returned to Judea, the Jews might stone them also.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him and said unto Jesus, “Lord if you hadst been here, my brother had not died. Jesus re-assures Martha, That Lazarus her brother, shall rise again (John 11:21-22). Martha thought Jesus was talking about the resurrection of all on the last day (John 11:24), but not a physical resurrection that was about to happen on that day, for Lazarus had already been dead 4 days. NIV Study notes on John 11:17 write:- Many Jews believed that the soul remained near the body for 3 days after death in hope of returning to it. If this idea was in the minds of these people, they obviously thought all hope was gone – Lazarus was irrevocably dead. Four days had already passed and the body was decomposing, so there seemed to be no hope for Lazarus, apart from a true miracle of God.
Mary (Martha’s sister) also, when hearing Jesus had come, went out to meet Jesus. She was weeping and fell to the feet of Jesus and said the same words as her sister Martha, “Lord if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died” (John 11:32). Her weeping revealing her grief for her brother Lazarus. When Jesus saw her weeping and also the Jews weeping (who had come to comfort Martha and Mary), he groaned in the spirit and was troubled. Now the Greek translation of the word Groaned is Embrimaomai:G1690 – Indignation, to blame, groan, murmur against. Jesus groaning may have been the result of being blamed for Lazarus death? For Jesus had remained where he was for two days (John 11:6) and arrived on the fourth day after Lazarus death. Jesus was also troubled. The Greek word being Tarasso:G5015 – Stir; agitated; troubled.
When Jesus saw where Lazarus had laid, he wept. His weeping was different of that of Mary and the other Jews who had come to comfort Martha and Mary during this time of distress and anguish. For in verse 33, John uses the Greek word Klaio:G2799 that means to wail aloud to describe the weeping of Mary and the other Jews. However, John writes of Jesus weeping in verse 35 using the Greek word, Dakuro:G1145: which means to shed tears. When the Jews saw this, John records, the Jews said behold he loved him. That love being of friendship. The Greek word Phileo:G5368, meaning to be a friend to, having personal attachment (John 11:36). In verse 11:5 John writes that Jesus loved, Martha, and his sister (Mary) and Lazarus. Using the Greek word :Agapao:G25 to love in a social or moral sense.
The Jews, then said of Jesus in John 11:37, Could this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? In other words, the Messiah, whom had shed tears, why did he not save his friend Lazarus? In verse 38 John writes, Jesus again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. (Groaning, Embrimaomai:G1690 – Indignation, to blame, groan, murmur against). It seemed Jesus was being blamed for Lazarus death because he did not come early to heal him. Jesus had healed others in his ministry, so why did he not make an extra effort to heal his friend Lazarus? But we must remember, If Jesus was doing the will of the father, in waiting 4 days before raising Lazarus from the dead, to show a true miracle, beyond doubt, how could he be blamed for Lazarus death?
Jesus was about to do something miraculous, a miracle by raising Lazarus from the dead after 4 days. Take away the stone Jesus said (John 11:39), but even at that time, Martha still with unbelief, said, “He stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.” John 11:40 Jesus replies, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe thou shouldest see the glory of God? After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, Many Jews, which came to Mary and had seen the things that Jesus did, believed on him (John 11:45).
The Evil intent of the Pharisees. Because many of the Jews believed in Jesus after Lazarus resurrection, the Pharisees were concerned. John records in John 11:48 “If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation: John 11:53 “Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” That was the chief priest and the Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus. Not only did they plot to kill Jesus, they also wanted to kill Lazarus because he had been resurrected. The Jews were believing in Jesus because of this miracle (John 12:10).
Part 2: Empathy - Martha and Mary. It was only natural for both Martha and Mary to want Jesus to heal their sick brother Lazarus, for Jesus was their friend and also the Messiah who had healed others and performed miracles amongst the people, so why not for their brother Lazarus? When Martha and Mary sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, they must have been confused as to why Jesus did not come quickly. For when Jesus received the news (John 11:6), Jesus stayed where he was for another two days. Both Martha and Mary were possibly wondering why Jesus had not come to heal Lazarus. Why it took was taking him so long, after they had sent word. This was Jesus, the Messiah, whom in his ministry had healed others. Jesus was a friend of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Why did he not come and heal Lazarus, why did he leave it too late and let him die? Jesus was the Messiah, God in Flesh, The Son of God, How can this be the will of God? How could Jesus be so mean? (Note: NIV Study notes on John 11:17 write:- Many Jews believed that the soul remained near the body for 3 days after death in hope of returning to it. If this idea was in the minds of these people, they obviously thought all hope was gone – Lazarus was irrevocably dead. Four days had already passed and the body was decomposing, so there seemed to be no hope for Lazarus, apart from a true miracle of God.)
Mary, had stayed with Lazarus body, she was weeping and being comforted by other Jews who had come to comfort Mary and Martha in their time of grief and loss. Their grieving and staying next to the body of their brother Lazarus, showed both sisters love for him. When Martha learnt that Jesus was coming, she ran out to meet Jesus. The first thing she said that the Apostle John records was “If you had come, my brother would not have died”. Jesus reassures Martha, that Lazarus will live again, but she thought he meant at the time of resurrection, when all will be raised again (John 11:23-24). When Mary heard that Jesus was coming, she got up and went to Jesus. Weeping, she fell at Jesus feet and said the same remark as her sister Martha, “If you had come, my brother would not have died”. This was the same response as her sister Martha. Jesus raises Lazarus.
When Jesus asked for the stone to be removed from Lazarus grave, Martha was still with unbelief, “saying that his body stinketh and he has been dead for four days” (John 11:39). Knowing Martha’s unbelief, Jesus said to her “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the Glory of God” (John 11:40). Then Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. God’s miracle and Glory was shown through Lazarus resurrection and the other Jews believed in Jesus, because of this (John 11:45).
Mary’s Devotion to Jesus. After Lazarus resurrection, John writes in John 12:1-2, 6 days before the Passover, Jesus arrived in Bethany, where Lazarus lived. A dinner was given in honor of Jesus. Martha served and Lazarus was at the table with Jesus. John records in 12:3 an act of great devotion and love from Mary. This was Mary (Martha’s sister and who’s brother was Lazarus), the same Mary who had fallen at the feet of Jesus, weeping for her brother Lazarus, now bought out an expensive perfume called nard, worth a years wages and poured it on Jesus feet. She wiped his feet with her hair. John records in John 12:4-6 Judas Iscariot, who did not care about the poor asked, “Why was this ointment not sold and the money given to the poor. It was worth a year’s wages”. Judas did not care about the poor; he was a thief and use to steal from the moneybag that was put into it. Jesus replied, let her alone, it was intended she should save this perfume for the day of my burial (John 12:7). NIV Notes for John 12:3 – writes: a) Normally oil was poured on a person head. b) Woman would not normally unbind their hair in public. No respectful woman would do this. c) It was servant’s work to attend to the feet.