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John 11:1-44, Jesus Raises Lazarus

Sunday, February 18

A Pivotal Moment for Jesus – The Raising of Lazarus

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.


Unlike the Jesus portrayed in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, who consistently asked people not to make a big deal of his healings and miracles, John’s Jesus went out of his way to make a show of this story. When he learned about Lazarus’ death, he stayed two more days, so when he arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead four days. The Jews believed a dead person’s spirit hung around the dead body for three days. When Jesus arrived, there would be no question Lazarus was dead. Truly and unmistakably dead.

And he went to Martha and Mary, who were clearly already believers. Both scolded Jesus for not being present – they knew that he could have and would have saved Lazarus from death if he had been there. What more did Jesus have to prove to them?

Jesus also made quite a show of the raising itself. He prayed to God aloud, even though he knew God was already listening. He did it for the sake of the bystanders who would become witnesses of the incredible event.

And this was an incredible event. Resurrections like this one were not unheard of, but they certainly weren’t commonplace. At just four days out, there would have been quite a few mourners to witness the event. Clearly, Jesus wanted people to know just how powerful God was.

Undoubtedly, word would spread about the raising of Lazarus. Religious leaders immediately set out to kill Lazarus so that the event could not be verified. But by this time, news of Jesus was uncontainable. This would be one of the pivotal events that caused religious leaders to begin contemplating killing Jesus himself. The line was drawn in the sand. The rest of Jesus’ time would be spent outmaneuvering the religious leaders and preparing the disciples to continue his work after his departure. There would only be one event that could top the event of Lazarus’ resurrection. And for that we wait.

Narrative Lectionary Text: John 11:1-44

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’ 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.

Then after this he said to the disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin,said to his fellow-disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away,and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘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. Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’

When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him.The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’

Later Event: February 19
John 7:10-24, Festival of Booths