John 11 is one of my favourite passages in the New Testament for a number of reasons. Firstly, we get a glimpse of God’s purposes. We often struggle with questions like “Why did God allow that to happen?” In verse 4 Jesus tells His disciples (and us) that Lazarus’ death is for His glory. It is rarely that we know God’s purposes but knowing this helps us to understand why God allows Lazarus to die and why Jesus is not really concerned about His death. We might otherwise think that Jesus is uncaring and unloving.
Secondly, I love this passage because we clearly see Jesus’ humanity and His love for individuals. It tells us that Jesus loved Martha and her sister (vs 5), that He was emotionally moved by the grief experienced by Mary (vs 33) and that He wept over Lazarus death (vs 35).
Thirdly, you see the frailty (I’m inclined to say stupidity!) of the disciples. They’re afraid to go back to Judea because the last time they were there the people tried to stone them. They have already forgotten who Jesus is. They misunderstand Jesus when He tries to speak metaphorically about Lazarus’ death so He has to lay it out plainly for them. I read this and think how stupid they are and then realize that in fact I am exactly like this too. In times of difficulty I forget the God I serve and worship is the creator and controller of the universe and I miss the obvious even when it is right there in front of me in the Scriptures.
Finally, in this passage Jesus demonstrates the power He has over death. It is a reminder that one day death will not contain me and just as Lazarus rose from the tomb, so I too will be raised to life because of the work of Christ.
Finally, I love the words “he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one” (vs 51-52). It is because of this that I am a child of God. It is because of this that I have brothers and sisters in Christ at TCC.