Saturday

1 August 2020

John 11:17-27

'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.' (v. 27)

Psalm: Psalm 93

Background

Lazarus has not yet risen from the dead, it looks like that is happening on Sunday! It’s an interesting piece of lectionary timing, and also for me as this is the last time that I will be writing these Bible study notes. Jesus’ timing was also intriguing, if he had arrived before Lazarus had died we could say that his timing was spot on. However, he has timed it for maximum pain and impact and Martha confronts him, was she really as polite (or passive aggressive) as the narrative suggests, or did she say, “Where were you?!”

Jesus turns the conversation to resurrection, to my mind emphasising that this is creative writing or a parable, Jesus’ own resurrection prefigured. Jesus feeds Martha the line, “Your brother will rise again” (v. 23), and she responds with resurrection hope. He then invites her to make her confession of faith; she has taken on the role of Peter. This is why I chose her words as the selected verse for today rather than the more predictable words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). It is a shame that she is behind Nathanael’s premature confession in John 1, though it would be possible to argue that this theme starts here and Nathanael’s words are a later creation. There are no words of resurrection without the women.

This is – the whole story of Jesus, Martha, Mary and Lazarus – also the point at which the expected killing of Jesus begins to become a reality. The words of resurrection are only spoken at a time of death, there is no resurrection without dying first. This is a life and death journey.

 

To Ponder:

  • What do you think of Martha giving the pivotal confession, rather than Peter?
  • What purpose does the story of Lazarus serve?

Bible notes author

Julian Bond

Julian works for the Connexional Team as the grants team leader. Previous to that he was the director of the Christian Muslim Forum, which is built on friendship between a group of Christians and Muslims, showing how faith is a catalyst for good relationships and welcomes the 'other'.

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