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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 2 - Light Shines in the Darkness (John 5:1 - 11:54)
C - Jesus' Last Journey to Jerusalem (John 7:1 - 11:54) The Parting of Darkness and Light
4. The raising of Lazarus and the outcome (John 10:40 – 11:54)

a) Jesus across the Jordan (John 10:40 – 11:16)

JOHN 10:40-42
40 He went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing at first, and there he stayed. 41 Many came to him. They said, “John indeed did no sign, but everything that John said about this man is true.” 42 Many believed in him there.

The conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees broke out; they incited the people’s leaders after he had healed the cripple at Bethesda (Chapter 5). At the end of his third visit to Jerusalem, this conflict developed towards a climax. Light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not overcome it. At all times Jesus was exposed to the risk of death. He entered the temple again and again, guiding his disciples into maturity in knowledge and trust while his foes moved on in their hatred of him.

Following on the Feast of Dedication, Jesus left Jerusalem and went to a region beyond Jordan where the High Council had no jurisdiction. Here John the Baptist had preached earlier, outside Jewish authority, but under one of the Herodian kings. The Baptist was well-known there; his witness to Jesus evident.

Those who had believed because of the Baptist had continued in their faith. Their teacher had been beheaded. When Jesus arrived, they rushed to him, knowing his humility, majesty and power. Jesus offered them examples of his signs, faithfully preaching about God and man. So many opened their hearts to the Gospel, holding on to their faith in the Baptist’s prophetic role, though the Baptist had not offered miracles to justify this role. But as soon as Jesus came to them, they trusted in him as Lord and Savior.

JOHN 11:1-3
1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. 2 It was that Mary who had anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, “Lord, behold, he for whom you have great affection is sick.”

During Christ’s preaching in the region of Jordan, a man called Lazarus fell ill. He belonged to a village on the Mount of Olives. Jesus had often been a guest at his house. Christ’s talk with Martha, Lazarus’ sister, is famous. John does not recount those events since they are found in another gospel. He does, however, tell us of Mary who poured out a jar of ointment on Jesus’ feet. The evangelist mentions this woman hungry for the Lord’s words. After she had anointed his feet with oil she wiped them with her hair (John 12:1–8). She demonstrated her humility, faith and love for God’s Son.

The news of Lazarus’ illness made Jesus sad. However, the sisters’ faith drew him to join them. They did not beg Jesus to come speedily to heal his friend, but simply sent him news about his condition, confident that he would heal from a distance. They felt sure that Jesus’ affection for Lazarus would move him to act. "Lazarus" means "God has helped". So this name became a motto for the last miracle mentioned in John.

JOHN 11:4-10
4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that God’s Son may be glorified by it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When therefore he heard that he was sick, he stayed two days in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let’s go into Judea again.” 8 The disciples told him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight? If a man walks in the day, he doesn’t stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if a man walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light isn’t in him.”

When the news reached Jesus, he was aware of his struggle with the forces of death. He had predicted that the patient would not be a prey of death, but in him God’s glory would shine. Jesus knew through the Holy Spirit what he had to do before his friends passing away, his authority would appear by raising a dead man not far from the gates of Jerusalem. So that the folk in Jerusalem would have no pretext for unbelief.

God’s glory and Christ’s glorification are one. Glory magnified, because he confronted death and won. Humanity at large agonizes at the prospect of death in its being. Death leads directly to extinction, they feel. Jesus knew his Father’s will and was not obsessed by death and its outcome, but realized the cause of death. He can plant life into a sick world.

Jesus did not go directly to Bethany; he delayed for two days. He let death swallow his friend. The disciples were dismayed to hear that he was going back to Judea since they had witnessed the attempt to stone him. The disciples did not feel for Lazarus nor did they wish to witness God’s glory, but feared for their own lives.

At that point, Jesus used an illustration that one travels safely in daytime, but at night he may fall into obstacles and ravines. As the hour of crucifixion was nigh, the hours of daylight had not ended. They had to go to Jerusalem calmly, safe in God’s hands.

Whoever does not trust in God’s providence, will dwell in darkness like Jesus’ foes, because the light of faith has not risen on them. Thus Jesus asked his disciples to trust in him and his leading completely. Otherwise unbelief will draw them into darkness. This is our consolation in the darkest hour that nothing will befall us without the will of our Lord. In him is our confidence.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for being the Master of life; in your light we see the way. You lead us into the straight path, even when your enemies desire our ruin. Help us, not to delay, but be ready for pain and death for your sake. So that your care of us may be glorified by our faith.


  1. Why did Jesus speak of God’s glory, even though Lazarus died?


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