10 April 2011

John 11:1-44

"Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (v. 26)


Lazarus has died. And here is a moving story of Jesus' visit to bereaved and grieving friends. It gives rise to deep discussions around what it is to live, and what death is.

Lazarus has two sisters:

  • Martha gets into a challenging theological discussion with Jesus and draws from him one of the great sentences associated with him: "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die." (verses 25-26)
  • Mary has a very different style. She stayed with the guests while Martha went out to receive Jesus. When she did meet Jesus, her tears draw concern and tears at what has happened. Jesus wept.

John's Gospel presents Jesus as God incarnate, God who is with us. Jesus was familiar with the question often addressed to God in times of crisis: where were you when we needed you most? Martha conveyed this sense of bewilderment to Jesus as soon as he arrived in Bethany (verses 21-22).

Jesus' ministry is consistently about setting people free from whatever it is that binds or imprisons them: "Unbind him, and let him go." (verse 44)

The good news declared in Jesus is that God desires all people to have the fullness of life: life that is not extinguished by death; life that, in union with God, knows no bounds or bondage.


To Ponder

What might have been Jesus' reasoning for delaying his visit to Lazarus' distressed family?

What meaning are we to derive from the observation that "Jesus began to weep" (verse 35)?

Bible notes author

The Revd Inderjit Bhogal

Inderjit Bhogal is a Methodist minister with a wide experience at local, regional, national and international levels. He is a former president of the British Methodist Conference and is currently working as leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.