John 11

Reading for Monday, Jan. 16: John 11

John 11 stands as one of the most powerful promises in Scripture. V25-26, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Ultimately, this is the most important question of our lives.

Martha’s response of faith acts as the fulcrum that sets everything else in motion in this chapter. Listen to her heartfelt response, even as she’s grieving: “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” What follows is probably the greatest demonstration of the power of faith that John has recorded for us so far.

v35 — “Jesus wept.” There aren’t any shorter verses in Scripture, but few are as profoundly deep as this one. The image of a heartbroken, weeping Messiah might be a bit unsettling to us at first. It might be a little like seeing your Dad or your grandfather cry; as children, we don’t know what to do with that because we expect those parents and grandparents to always have the answers. We’re not accustomed to seeing some of these figures like this, overwhelmed to the point of tears. Yet, this is where we find Jesus, utterly heartbroken. The text indicates that Jesus knows how this little episode is going to end, in God being glorified (v4) and with people coming to faith (v15). Yet, this does little to assuage the hurt and the pain Jesus feels when he sees his friends mourning the loss of their brother.

In our own brokenness and grief, we can turn to Jesus as one who understands what we’re feeling. He knows how overwhelming the pain can be. He remembers standing outside that tomb, longing for his friend once more. He stands now as OUR high priest, fully capable of representing the human experience — with all of its emotions and feelings and experiences — before God the Father. In Jesus, we have one who knows how we feel, how we think, and what we need.

One point of clarification: there are some who argue we should refer to this as the “resuscitation of Lazarus” rather than the “resurrection of Lazarus”. This seems like a minor point until we recognize that although Lazarus was brought back from death, he later died again — at least as far as we can tell. The resurrection of Jesus is characterized by unending and eternal life. As miraculous as this story is, the fact remains that Lazarus awaits the fullness of the final resurrection along with all the rest of the believers. However, this miracle stands as a powerful promise of the kind of life — life to the full — that we can find in Christ.

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