John 11:17-32

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 17-19) According to His own will and purpose, our Lord remained where He was when He was told that Lazarus was sick until Lazarus had died and was buried. When He finally came to the outskirts of Bethany (John 11:30), Lazarus had been in the grave four days. John makes special mention of this in order to stress the magnitude of the miracle. The body of Lazarus was already decaying and decomposing (John 11:39). Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, and many of the Jews had come there to mourn with the sisters. The Jews had a custom to mourn for friends for certain days (Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8). The length of the mourning period probably was determined by the person's importance, but all had their day.

(Vs. 20) It seems from the story in Luke 10:38-42 that Martha was the older of the two women and had the care of the house upon her, so the news of Christ's coming came to her first. She went out to meet Him while Mary (quieter and more reserved) remained in the house (Luke 10:39).

(Vs. 21-22) Martha said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Mary said the same thing when she approached Christ later (John 11:32). They knew that Christ could heal all manner of disease. They probably had said this over and over to one another while Lazarus was sick, "Oh, if only Jesus were here; why doesn't He come?" "But," Martha added, "I know (I believe and am sure) that EVEN NOW, whatsoever you ask of God, God will give it to you!" She did not openly ask Christ to raise her brother from the dead, but this is certainly what she had in mind. Whether she believed Christ Himself to be God, at least she did believe Him to be a prophet sent from God and able to do all things.

(Vs. 23) The Lord, in the simplest possible manner, said to her, "Your brother shall rise again." He told the disciples that Lazarus's sickness was not unto final DEATH but for the glory of God. He came there to raise him from the dead, and this is what He is saying to Martha.

(Vs. 24) Mary did not understand what He was saying. She, being a student of the Scriptures and a disciple of Christ, believed that the dead would rise from the graves at the last day. And this is what she declared when she said, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection." She found comfort in this, as do all of God's people (Psalm 16:9-11; Psalm 17:15; Job 19:25-27; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2).

(Vs. 25-26) Here is where we need to camp for awhile. Christ replied, "I AM the resurrection and the life." "I AM the source, cause, and fountain of eternal life, hence the cause of resurrection." Because He is God, because He lives, because He is our surety, righteousness, and redemption–WE LIVE! Because in Him dwells all the full, blessed life of God, then we are COMPLETE IN HIM. Because He lives, we live. Life and resurrection is not only an experience Christ purchases and bestows, but HE IS OUR LIFE (Col. 3:4). We can no more die and perish than He can. If one believes and is in Christ, though his body is in the grave, he is not dead; he lives, for he is one with Christ. This is one of the seven great "I AM's" in John (John 6:35, 8:12; 10:9; 11:25; 14:6; 15:5). It is by faith that Christ is received and known; It is through faith in Him that the believer rests and receives all things (Rom. 4:20-25). The Lord turned Martha's thoughts from doctrine to HIMSELF. The doctrines of salvation, resurrection, and eternal life are understood ONLY in the light of His person and work (I John 5:20). Our Lord is the resurrection and the life IN PERSON (John 1:3-4; I John 5:11). DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?

(Vs. 27) Martha's confession is similar to Peter's in Matt. 16:16 and the eunuch's in Acts 8:37. "Yes, Lord, it is a settled conviction of my heart that Thou art THE CHRIST, the Son of God, which, according to the Scriptures, should come into the world" (I Tim. 1:15; Gal. 4:4-5; Luke 19:10; Rom. 10:9-10). The fact that Martha wavered a little later (John 1]:39) does not alter the fact that she believed Him. Peter had a similar experience in Matt. 14:28-30. Our eyes are not always on Christ. Sometimes we are turned in the direction of the dead flesh.

(Vs. 28-31) Evidently the Lord Jesus told Martha to tell Mary to come out to Him, for she went back to the house and privately told Mary that the Master had come to the town and was asking for her. Mary arose quickly and went out to the place where Martha had met with the Lord. When the mourners saw Mary leave the house, they thought that she was going to the grave of Lazarus; so they followed her.

(Vs. 32) When Mary saw the Lord Jesus, she fell weeping at His feet. Mary's faith, love, and devotion to Christ are so evident in every account of her (Luke 10:39-42; John 12:2-3). While she repeated what Martha had said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother had not died," nevertheless, there she was AT HIS FEET in love, reverence, and worship. Oh, that we might be found at all times AT HIS FEET!

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.