2 April 2017

John 11:1-45

“Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” (vv. 5-6)

Psalm: Psalm 130


If you received a message that a much-loved friend was seriously ill how would you respond? I wonder how many of us would respond as Jesus did? Jesus stayed where he was for two more days. And he prayed.

This deeply moving and powerful story is not only about Lazarus, it is also about Jesus. It begins with the disciples pleading with Jesus not to return to Judea and ends with the chief priests and Pharisees plotting to kill him (verses 47-48).

The message from Martha and Mary was also a message from God, signalling to Jesus that now is the time to return to Judea, where the next act in the drama of salvation will unfold. Jesus needs time to be with God before he makes his final journey towards Jerusalem. We do not know the content of Jesus' prayers but can guess they might be something like his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42), the night before the Crucifixion.

The raising of Lazarus gave the authorities the reason they needed to get rid of Jesus. It was also Jesus' most powerful sign yet in John's Gospel, which makes clear who Jesus is and what he had come to earth to do. It also points us to Easter Day when the final act of the drama unfolds.

To Ponder

  • This is a wonderful story to read and reflect on Passion Sunday. As you read it, try to place yourself in the story and watch the events unfold from the perspective of a particular character. (You could choose one of the main characters or take up a position in the crowd watching.) What do you notice from where you stand in the story?
  • As you read, listen to the echoes between the story of Lazarus and Jesus' own story and ponder them.

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.