Week 12: John 11 Resurrection Life

Monday: Mary and her sister Martha

Read: John 11:1-5, Luke 11:38-42

If you’ve read through the gospels then you know that this is not the first encounter with Mary and her sister Martha. It’s fascinating that these friends of Jesus are highlighted in multiple gospels. Even in the relatively brief encounters that we have, their characters emerge with a rare depth, especially when we look at both of these passages together. 

In the Luke passage, Mary seems to be more faithful. She sits at Jesus’ feet as she lets the dishes sit in the sink. Jesus even praises her for choosing the better thing while Martha is distracted by serving. But a deeper reading may reveal something else. Jesus challenges her anxiety. It’s not that she was serving, but the way that she was serving; with a heart that led to complaining even to Jesus. She, like us, needed to learn that Jesus is the one thing necessary.

In John’s passage, Martha exhibits an incredible amount of faith, even if it lacks some understanding. She gets up and goes to Jesus even in her grief, while Mary remains at the tomb. In a sense, she blames Jesus for the death of her brother (just as Mary does) in the most faithful way possible. She believed he could have healed him and was disappointed by Jesus’ late arrival. But then she adds, “I know whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” She even believes in the resurrection at the last day, which was an emerging theology in this time. Because of her effort and faith she gets to hear Jesus utter some of the most amazing words, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Then, she joins the few on earth who proclaimed the divinity of Christ to his face. Don’t sleep on Martha!

Mary seems more distraught, She has the same thought as Martha, “If you had been here…” He is moved by her distress and continues with what he had planned all along and rises Jesus from the dead.

What consistencies do you see in the characters of Mary and Martha in these passages from two different New Testament authors? What differences? What positive characteristics can you see in each of them? Who do you relate to more?

Tuesday: Waiting for Glory

Read John 11:4, Galatians 6:9, Psalm 37:7-9, Romans 8:24-30, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5

Patience is a preshcool lesson that many adults have a hard time learning. We hate to wait. Yet, patience is a virtue and a fruit of the Spirit. Why is it so hard for us?

Maybe we fail to see that waiting is often a part of a formula that leads to God being glorified by our lives. Rushing to action, demanding instant results or gratification, and taking control seem like the path to success. But, counterintuitively, waiting is often God’s plan for glory. In John 11, Jesus gives us perhaps the most radical example of this truth by waiting for his sick friend to die. That’s how committed God is to showing his glory through patience. This also shows his power in our patience. If he can raise the dead, why are we anxiously hurrying and not patiently waiting?

Today, you’ll undoubtedly be tempted in many ways to lose your patience as your forced to wait while driving, working or parenting. Pause. Think. Pray. How can waiting patiently bring glory to God?

Wednesday: Walking in the day

Read John 11:6-10, John 3:19, Acts 26:23, 1 John 2:8

Light has already been a major and often repeated theme in John. In this passage, Jesus links light and resurrection. It makes sense. Not a lot of graves come with skylights! Death is the ultimate darkness. But with Jesus, not even the darkness of death can overcome the light that he shines forth in the world. 

How do we know if we’re walking in the light of Christ as Christians? Well, have you been stumbling and stubbing your toes recently? When we’re walking in the dark, Jesus says we’ll stumble. Truly walking with Jesus is a well lit path. Our times in the scriptures shouldn’t just be a todo item that we check off our list. The scriptures we read and the prayers we pray should light our paths as we go about our days, giving us unique perspective and helping us shine forth in a dark world.

Resurrection equals light. Paul linked these concepts everywhere he preached the gospel. In his letters and in Revelation John kept talking about the light. As we look forward to a resurrection even greater than that of Lazarus, let’s walk in the light. If part of your life is darkness or a tomb, listen to Jesus, call and come out into the light!

Thursday: That we may die with him.

Read John 11:11-16, John 20:24-31, Hebrews 10:23-25

After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the apostle Thomas picks up an infamous nickname. We know it well: Doubting Thomas. In this section of John 11, all of the disciples are doubting as they have legitimate concerns about going back to Judea where they had just left after Jesus received multiple death threats. Jesus tries to explain what’s happening with elevated language but has to spell it out plainly, “Lazarus has died.” Thomas then speaks up in a way that is both negative and extremely faithful at the same time. It’s negative because he’s basically saying, “We’re all gonna die!” But it’s faithful because he’s willing to die with Jesus and the disciples. If this is all we knew of Thomas, we would probably call him depressing and daring Thomas instead of doubting Thomas.

The incident that earns him the monicker of doubter happens after the resurrection. And it may be an unfair nickname because doubt may not have been his biggest problem. The reason he doubted (boldly) was because he was the only apostle not in attendance the first time Jesus appeared. May “Distant Thomas” would be a better nickname because his distance (missing that first meeting) led to doubt. This is a lesson for us as we strive to be faithful and not doubt. There’s power in just showing up. Strength is gained by just being there. We need our faith family if we’re going to remain faithful.

Have you grown distant in some way? Might doubts be creeping in? Address your doubts by closing the distance and making sure that when the disciples gather, you’re there too.

Friday: Do you believe this?

Read John 11:17-44, 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Could there be a more radical statement? “Everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.” Jesus doesn’t hold back in making the grandest of promises to Martha. It’s such a bold promise that it almost necessitates the question that immediately follows from Jesus. “Do you believe this?” Martha’s response is impressive. The Jews are starting to believe in Jesus’ power to heal, questioning why the one who could heal the blind didn’t heal Lazarus. But Martha takes things to a new level. Interestingly she doesn’t directly answer the question. After saying yes, she simply explains that she believes Jesus to be “the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming in to the world.” This tells us what people believed about the messiah in the first century. To believe in the messiah/Christ, was to believe in resurrection. She believed in resurrection at the last day. Jesus was about to show her and the world that resurrection power was even greater than that.

Do you believe in resurrection? If you do, I think it changes the tone of Jesus question. It’s not so much a question of faith. Martha already believed. It’s a question of how much it impacts us. Believing in resurrection is choosing to have an unending fountain of hope in our hearts. It’s believing that God can overcome everything. For the faithful, it’s less, “Do you believe this?” And more, “Can you believe it!” Our God can raise the dead.

Saturday: The peoples plot in vain

Read John 11:45-12:1, Psalm 2, Acts 3:11-4:1, Proverbs 16:9

John 11 ends with a detail about the closed door conversations of the Jewish leaders. They are set on killing Jesus. They are even backed up by a vision from the high priest. How ironic to end a chapter that proves Jesus’ ability to resurrect the dead with a section on how people plan to kill him. It doesn’t take a genius to imagine that their plot isn’t going to succeed. By the beginning of chapter 12 Jesus has returned to the Jerusalem vicinity and it’s Passover week. The rest of John’s gospel will zoom in on his final week and show definitively that God’s plans are always greater than man’s.

Societies are always going to be ruled by all kinds of leaders. Elected officials, celebrities, faith leaders and influencers all have plans and ideas to shape the world as they see best. Likewise, we are tasked with leading our selves and making plans for our life. It’s good to know that God is ultimately in control. Ultimately, any plot of the people (including ourselves) is in vain if it doesn’t line up with God’s will. It might not always seem like this is true. It certainly seemed like the Jewish leaders’, Pilate, and Satan had succeeded in their plans to kill the messiah on Good Friday. But as we all know…Sunday was coming!


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