In this week’s passage, we are introduced to the amazing story of Lazarus in the gospel of John.
In the grand arc of the narrative of Jesus’ life, the story of Lazarus is the “point of no return”. For the entire book of John, Jesus has been trying to prepare his disciples for his death while declaring his divine identity as the Son of God.
The story of Lazarus is the final foreshadow in Jesus’ ministry preparing his followers to declare their need for his resurrection power in their lives—or even more urgently—their need to die first.
Let’s read together.
Read this from the Bible together:
Now a man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair, and it was her brother Lazarus who was sick. 3 So the sisters sent a message to him: “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
4 When Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was. 7 Then after that, he said to the disciples, “Let’s go to Judea again.”
8 “Rabbi,” the disciples told him, “just now the Jews tried to stone you, and you’re going there again?”
9 “Aren’t there twelve hours in a day?” Jesus answered. “If anyone walks during the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks during the night, he does stumble, because the light is not in him.”
11 He said this, and then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I’m on my way to wake him up.”
12 Then the disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will get well.”
13 Jesus, however, was speaking about his death, but they thought he was speaking about natural sleep. 14 So Jesus then told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. 15 I’m glad for you that I wasn’t there so that you may believe. But let’s go to him.”
16 Then Thomas (called “Twin”) said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go too so that we may die with him.”
Some key statements and questions put forward that are important for us to talk about…
”This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God…” The disciples interpreted Jesus’ words to mean that Lazarus would not die. They assumed Jesus had a plan to heal him and that everything would be ok. Have you ever assumed similar things about God in your own life? What were the things that God didn’t heal or restore in the way you wanted him to?
So when he heard that he was sick, he stayed two more days in the place where he was.The delays of God are a necessary part of your walk with Jesus. How do you handle the delays of God in your own life?
“Aren’t there twelve hours in a day?” Jesus answered. God is always doing stuff. We are often distracted by the immediate, and he is always dealing with the ultimate. What is an immediate distraction in your life right now that may be blinding you to the ultimate purpose Jesus has for your life?
If you are waiting on God, you must remember that he is with you in a way he was never with Lazarus. Pastor Brian reminded us that the gift of the Holy Spirit is something that Lazarus would have longed for in his lifetime, even more than the physical resurrection he received. Is that how you feel about the Holy Spirit?
Jesus is allowing something bad to happen so that others might believe in him. Does that truth from this section of scripture cause you to wrestle with Jesus’ goodness? Why do you think bad things sometimes happen so something even better can come to pass?
The gospel story starts with “come and see,” but it ends with “come and die.” We are invited to the table of Jesus’ grace to see all that he has done—but we are also faced with the central theme of dying to self as followers of Jesus. Where would you place yourself between those two gospel invitations in your discipleship to Jesus?