Fifth Sunday in Lent (Apr 2nd)

Pastor's Summary of John 11:1-45

Jesus is beyond the reach of the Jewish religious authorities, across the Jordan when Martha and Mary (in "Bethany", near Jerusalem) send a message to him: Lazarus, a follower, is ill. Jesus says that his illness is not terminal, rather it will show the "glory", power and authority that the Father has bestowed on the Son. We will see why Jesus delays. He urges the disciples to return to "Judea" with him, but they remind him of what happened when he was last there. Jesus replies with a parable: there is still time ("hours of daylight") to do God's work; harm will not come to him "during the day". those who do dark deeds will fail because I am not in them. His words are ambiguous, as vs 13 explains: the disciples think that Lazarus' sleep indicates that he is getting better ("all right", v. 12), but Jesus clarifies: "Lazarus is dead" vs. 14). Note Jesus' clarivoyance. Restoring Lazarus to life will be a greater opportunity (than just healing him) for strengthening the disciples' faith in Jesus (v. 15). Thomas shows courageous loyalty.

People thought that one's soul hovered around one's body for three days, but when Jesus arrives, Lazarus has been dead for "four days" (v. 17). (Bodies were buried on the day of death.) Per custom, many have come to "console" (v. 19) the sisters. Perhaps Martha sets out to warn Jesus of the rites while Mary receives mourners (v. 20). Martha rebukes Jesus for his tardiness but shows her confidence in his ability to heal. She goes further: perhaps because the Father grants the Son whatever he asks, Jesus will restore life to Lazarus (v. 22) She, as many did, believed in "the resurrection of all on the last day" v. 24), but this is small comfort to her now. Jesus identifies himself as he who raises believers from death ("resurrection". v/ 25) and who is the principle of "life". Physical death is normal, even so life in Christ will continue, and this life cannot be taken away by the death of the body. Martha affirms her faith in Jesus in terms used earlier by Andrew, Nathanael and those present at the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Jesus and Martha are still outside Bethany. She discerns that Jesus wishes to speak to Mary. She tells Mary "privately" (v. 28) either so she can escape from the visitors or to shield Jesus from any who plot against him. The visitors see Mary leave, and follow her. Mary's words to Jesus echo Martha's. Jesus is "disturbed"(v. 33) inwardly by the crowd's attitude towards death; his humanity shows in v. 35, causng some to say that he weeps at  the loss of a friend, but others criticize him: if he'd been here earlier, being a miracle-worker, he could have healed him! Martha warns him of the "stench" of the decaying corpse. Perhaps Jesus prayed at v. 33; now he publicly thanks the Father-to help the crowed understand that his power is from God, and not magic. Being bound in a burial shroud, Lazarus needs unbinding (v. 44). Many believed because of the miracle (v. 45), but others told the Pharisees about it (v. 46).