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A Journey through the book of Genesiswith Willow Creek Community Church

Read John

DAY 14 // RESURRECTION THEN AND NOW

Willow Creek Community Church

 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this? 

- JOHN 11:25-26 

 

LISTEN


COMMENTARY

John 11 records the story of one of Jesus’ most powerful signs, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. In the middle of this story, Jesus has a profound conversation that demonstrates the significance of the sign and also captures two of Christianity’s most important doctrines. Speaking with Martha, the sister of Lazarus, Jesus says, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Martha responds to Him, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). Martha’s response here is consistent with one of the core convictions of the Christian faith. At the end of days there will be a resurrection of the dead back to life. Jesus taught this very thing earlier in His Bread of Life discourse: “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40). 

But Jesus wants to make sure Martha doesn’t miss the fact that resurrection is also a present reality. In John 11:25-26, Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Here, Jesus affirms that Martha’s statement is true, but He adds that those who believe can experience new life now. We can have an inner, spiritual resurrection and experience some of the benefits of Jesus’ resurrection power in our lives today. 

This is what Lazarus’ resurrection symbolizes. New life isn’t just something that is reserved exclusively for the end of days. It is something we get to experience in our hearts right now. The problem for some of us is that even though we believe, we live as though nothing has changed. We live as though we are still dead in our sins. Jesus’ invitation to those of us who believe in Him is to live as though we’ve been reborn. He wants to unleash His resurrection power in our lives right now. Other people have yet to make a decision about Jesus. If that’s you, Jesus’ question to Martha is also an invitation to you. What’s holding you back? “Do you believe this?” 


SCRIPTURE

JOHN 11:1–44 

11 

THE DEATH OF LAZARUS 

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” 

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” 

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?” 

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” 

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.” 

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. 

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” 

JESUS COMFORTS THE SISTERS OF LAZARUS 

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. 

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.” 

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. 

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 

35 Jesus wept. 

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” 

JESUS RAISES LAZARUS FROM THE DEAD 

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. 

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.” 

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. 

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” 


REFLECTION

1. Based on John 11:5-7, we can infer that Jesus loved Lazarus’ family and often stayed with them. They were close friends and He cared deeply for them, yet He did not come immediately when He received the news from Mary and Martha. His delay had a specific purpose. This is a great reminder to us that God’s timing has a purpose outside of our understanding. Reflect on a time when God didn’t respond to your prayers on your timetable. Looking back, what did God do and what can you learn from it?

2. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” This is the shortest verse in the Bible, but it is very powerful. In this verse, we are reminded that Jesus was fully human with deep emotions. Because of this, He understands our emotions. Often, we feel that when we approach God, we need be polished and without emotion. But, God doesn’t want us to hold anything back from Him. What emotions are you feeling today? Share them with God and ask Him for what you need. Remember, He understands.