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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)

b) Jesus meets Martha and Mary (John 11:17-33)

JOHN 11:17-19
17 So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away. 19 Many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother.

Four days had passed since Lazarus had lain in the grave; he had been buried on the day he passed away, and the news reached Jesus that day. There was no point in Jesus arriving at once, since his friend was already buried. Death was confirmed without a doubt.

Bethany lay east of the Mount of Olives facing the Jordan which was 1.000 meters below. Beyond stood the Dead Sea. To the west at a distance of three kilometers lies Jerusalem on a hill beyond the Kidron valley.

Many friends of the deceased had come to his home, weeping and beating their breasts. Grief was specially evident since Lazarus was the breadwinner of the family. The shadow of death overcast the gathering.

JOHN 11:20-24
20 Then when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Therefore Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. 22 Even now I know that, whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

When Martha heard that Jesus was near, she hurried towards him lamenting; thinking to herself that if he had arrived in time the nightmare would not have struck. She gave expression to her faith when they met, confident of his limitless power. She did not waste time expressing her sorrow, but spoke of her trust that he would arrest the death; she did not know how, but she believed in his absolute authority, and in his bond with God, who would answer the Son’s prayer at all times.

Jesus instantly responded to her faith with a mighty promise, "Your brother shall rise." She did not fully grasp the import or his words, but considered them as a promise of the final resurrection for him. She was now hopeful, realizing that death is not the end. Resurrection to life is what believers expect.

JOHN 11:25-27
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will still live, even if he dies. 26 Whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, he who comes into the world.”

In the hearing of his disciples, Jesus said to Martha that great text, "The resurrection is sure to come, it is here in my person. Not that he will be raised on the day of resurrection, but he will rise today by my presence. I am the Creator; from me proceeds the Holy Spirit to you. I shall die in your stead to take away your sins, to grant you the life divine. Death will not have dominion over you. Soon I shall assure your resurrection by Mine so that you may be buried and rise again with me by faith. My death is yours, my life is yours. I live in you and you live in me."

The one condition for receiving Christ’s life is the covenant of faith with Jesus. The currents of his life do not pass from him in you unless you are bonded with him. Our faith in Christ opens our perceptions to the Father and eternal life. His love plants joy, peace and love in us that never ceases. A person filled with Christ’s love will not die, because God’s Spirit is everlasting. This Spirit dwells in the hearts of those who believe in Christ.

Jesus did not make a stirring speech announcing his victory over death in the raising of Lazarus. He assured those who were alive in his Spirit that death would not have dominion over them since they have shared in his resurrection already. Have you realized the force of this unconditional promise from his lips? If you believe in him you will not die. Do not think of your approaching death or the open grave; rather turn your eyes upon Jesus. Thank him for this commitment for he will establish you in life eternal.

Dear brother, do you believe in Jesus the life-giver? Have you personally experienced that he has freed you from death’s dominion and raised you from corruption of sin? If you have not experienced this spiritual rising, we assure you that the Lord of Life stands before you extending his hand to you. Believe in his love and power. Hold his hand and he will forgive your sins and give you eternal life. He is your only faithful Savior.

Martha accepted Christ’s promise. She not only experienced life eternal but also the life-giver. She believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah who has power to raise the dead. He has the authority to conduct the final judgment. She experienced his power flowing in her, awakening and sanctifying her. She was bold to utter the testimony of her faith on the way, even though she knew the Jews had resolved to stone Jesus for declaring he was God’s Son. She did not fear death but loved her Savior: A woman whose courage puts men to shame. Her confidence grew strong with her love.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are eternally great. Death had no dominion over you. You died our death, and raised us by your resurrection. We worship and thank you. You have shared your life with us so that death may no longer have dominion over us. We love and thank you for our freedom from guilt, fear and death.


  1. How do we rise from death today?

JOHN 11:28-31
28 When she had said this, she went away, and called Mary, her sister, secretly, saying, “The Teacher is here, and is calling you.” 29 When she heard this, she arose quickly, and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going to the tomb to weep there.”

Perhaps Jesus requested Martha to bring Mary to him so that she might hear from him words of trust and comfort away from the din of the mourners. Thereby she would progress in faith through his love. Jesus conquers by the boldness of faith, not by pessimism and sorrow. He wished to bring the grieving Mary to the light of God’s presence so that she might live and be spiritually active.

Mary may not have heard about Jesus’ coming as she was drowning in sorrow. However, when Martha returned to her and told her that Jesus was asking for her, she rose anxiously and went to meet the Lord. So much that all those present were astonished at her conduct, asking whether she was going to the grave to weep. They all rose and followed her to the tomb, an illustration of human life that is marching on to perdition, swallowed by misery and gloom. While philosophy and religion cannot provide a correct answer to the problem of life or death, in death, the truth of the hope that a Christian has becomes evident as well as his solid comfort.

JOHN 11:32-33
32 Therefore when Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

Mary saw Jesus and in an emotional gesture threw herself at his feet, a broken spirit. She confessed her faith trusting that he was able to work divine miracles. If only he had been present earlier her brother would not have died. This points to the firm faith that was evident in the household that God was present in Jesus. But death had shaken that faith and left the sisters perplexed.

When Jesus saw this anxious faith in his loyal followers along with the crowd’s ignorance, he was troubled in Spirit. He noted how they had all succumbed to the influence of death. He was sad to see weeping and perceived that the world is set in the power of evil. Again he felt the weight of the world’s sin pressing on his shoulders; in Spirit he saw the necessity for the cross, and the open grave as the only way to overcome such grief. He was convinced of the resurrection which was about to occur. That is the decisive judgment on death, unbelief and misery.


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