John 11:1-16 (ESVST)
1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.
These first 2 verses are just a background information on the message we are about to hear. In these verses we are told that a certain man of Bethany called Lazarus was ill. We are told that this man had two sisters Mary and Martha. Just so we understand which Mary is being referred to, John tells us that this is the same Mary who who anointed The Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair.
3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, “ Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, “ This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now that John has given us the background, he then tells us here that Lazarus sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him that Lazarus was ill. We left Jesus in chapter 10 having went accross Jordan were John was baptizing and we were told in chapter 10 that he stayed there for a while. This is after the Jews tried to kill him. So, when the message came, Jesus was still at this place.
On hearing the message, Jesus made a statement to the effect that this illness that Lazarus have, does not lead to death. In other words, Lazarus will not die. Jesus went on to say that the reason why Lazarus is ill, was for the glory of God so that the son of God may be glorified through it.
Now at this stage, we know that Lazarus’s illness was not a coincidence or bad luck but, it was the will of God, for the glory of God so that the son of God may be glorified through. There is no such thing as coincidence or luck, God is in control. This illness will serve two purposes, one that God will be glorified, which is the first prize and second, through this very illness, Jesus will also be glorified.
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
John here tells us that Jesus loved Lazarus and her sisters but yet John tells us that when Jesus heard that Lazarus whom he loves was sick, he stayed two days longer. This seems unusual for someone to extend his stay longer after hearing that the one he loves is sick. The normal reaction would be to as quickly as possible, go and visit the person but, Jesus, on hearing these news, he stayed two days longer. Remember that Jesus already gave a reason for Lazarus’s sickness so, it can only be concluded that his action of extending his stay was part of God’s plan as we will see later.
7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “ Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “ Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”
Jesus then told his disciples that they needed to go to Judea again. This is after the two days extension of stay. John uses the word here “again” since Jesus was just in Judea were the Jews were trying to kill him. Understandably so, his disciples became concerned that Jesus wanted to go back to Judea. I beleive that Jesus’s answer to them was in a form of a parable that indicated to them that if a person does the will of God, he has nothing to fear because God is with him but, if he doesn’t, then he has something to fear.
11 After saying these things, he said to them, “ Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “ Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “ Lazarus has died, 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus then told them that Lazarus has died and he was going to raise him from the dead. He then told them that it will be even easier for them to beleive because when Lazarus died, they know that Jesus was not there. To them it will be a true confirmation that indeed Lazarus was dead and indeed Jesus raised him from the dead and as a result, they will beleive. Now since they beleived that Jesus was probably going to be killed by the Jews when he sets his foot in Judea, Thomas said to his fellow disciples and said that, they must accompany him so thT they may die with him.