John 11:17-27 (ESVST)
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.
Here in this verse we see Jesus arriving in Bethany after he stayed two days longer accross the Jordan were he was staying after recieving the message that Lazarus was ill. John tells us that at that time, Lazarus was dead for four days already. So, there was absolutely no doubt that he was dead.
John also tells us that there were Jews from Jerusalem who came to console Martha and Mary. John says that Jerusalem was about “2 miles” from Bethany. The actual Greek measurement here was a “stadion” which was about 185 meters. Now 2 miles is equated to fifteen stadia. Therefore, the distance was about 2,77km.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him but, Mary did not.
So, we have Jesus and his disciples, we have the Jews from Jerusalem and we have the two Sisters and the dead man. The scene was now set for God to be glorified.
21 Martha said to Jesus, “ Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.
Now, these two verses are a bit difficult to understand and explain but I ask God to help me explain in the way that he would want his word to be explained and understood. Martha said to Jesus that if he were there earlier before his brother died, his brother would not have died. Now, what does this mean, this means that
1- Martha in a way is complaining that Jesus came late although they sent for him when Lazarus was stil alive.
2- It also means that Martha beleived that if Jesus came earlier and found Lazarus still alive, Lazarus would not have died because Jesus could have healed him.
3- It also means that Martha beleived that now that Lazarus is dead, there was nothing that Jesus could do anymore.
22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
Here Martha confirms that she does not beleive that Jesus can do anything anymore now that Lazarus is dead and now, she is appealing to Jesus to speak to God whom she knows listens to Him. Martha is simply saying that She understands that Jesus can do nothing about the situation and he must ask God, who is the only one that can do something now that Lazarus is dead. Now it is not clear if Martha was asking Jesus to ask God to raise his brother. What is clear is that Martha at this stage did not beleive that Jesus could do something about the situation and she beleived God could.
23 Jesus said to her, “ Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus the told Marthat that Lazarus will rise again and Martha on hearing this told Jesus that she knows that Lazarus will rise during the last day referring to the end times. Clearly Martha here completely misunderstood Jesus.
25 Jesus said to her, “ I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “ Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Then Jesus answered her more directly by saying to her that He is the resurrection and the life. Jesus explained this statement by saying that whoever believes in him, even if they die, they shall live. Jesus continued to say those that believes in him, shall never die. We have two scenarios here:
1- the believers who are dead, who shall live and
2- the believers who are living, who shall not die.
What does this mean? This means that Jesus gives life to both those of believers. Those who are dead, he raises them and gives them life and, those that are living, he keeps them alive. What does this still mean? Jesus is saying, I have the power to raise people from the dead and give them live. Now, is Jesus talking about physical or spiritual live? I beleive that Jesus is referring to eternal spiritual life. I beleive that the death and the resurrection of Lazarus is a practical metaphor for what actually happens in the spirit. Through Lazarus’s physical death and resurrection, Jesus is showing that those that are spiritually dead, through him, will be spiritually raised from the dead and given eternal life.
This to me is confirmed by Jesus question to Martha, when he said “Do you beleive?”. This is exactly what is required of us as well. We are also being asked if we beleive. Martha answered and said that she beleived. Do you beleive?