Faith-Worthy: John 11:1-44

Focus Passage: John 11:1-44 (CEV)

1-2 A man by the name of Lazarus was sick in the village of Bethany. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This was the same Mary who later poured perfume on the Lord’s head and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent a message to the Lord and told him that his good friend Lazarus was sick.

When Jesus heard this, he said, “His sickness won’t end in death. It will bring glory to God and his Son.”

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and brother. But he stayed where he was for two more days. Then he said to his disciples, “Now we will go back to Judea.”

“Teacher,” they said, “the people there want to stone you to death! Why do you want to go back?”

Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in each day? If you walk during the day, you will have light from the sun, and you won’t stumble. 10 But if you walk during the night, you will stumble, because you don’t have any light.” 11 Then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, and I am going there to wake him up.”

12 They replied, “Lord, if he is asleep, he will get better.” 13 Jesus really meant that Lazarus was dead, but they thought he was talking only about sleep.

14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead! 15 I am glad that I wasn’t there, because now you will have a chance to put your faith in me. Let’s go to him.”

16 Thomas, whose nickname was “Twin,” said to the other disciples, “Come on. Let’s go, so we can die with him.”

17 When Jesus got to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many people had come from the city to comfort Martha and Mary because their brother had died.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Yet even now I know that God will do anything you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will live again!”

24 Martha answered, “I know that he will be raised to life on the last day, when all the dead are raised.”

25 Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. 26 And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord!” she replied. “I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.”

28 After Martha said this, she went and privately said to her sister Mary, “The Teacher is here, and he wants to see you.” 29 As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went out to Jesus. 30 He was still outside the village where Martha had gone to meet him. 31 Many people had come to comfort Mary, and when they saw her quickly leave the house, they thought she was going out to the tomb to cry. So they followed her.

32 Mary went to where Jesus was. Then as soon as she saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, he was terribly upset 34 and asked, “Where have you put his body?”

They replied, “Lord, come and you will see.”

35 Jesus started crying, 36 and the people said, “See how much he loved Lazarus.”

37 Some of them said, “He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

38 Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. 39 Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”

40 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”

41 After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. 42 I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”

43 When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.

Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”

Read John 11:1-44 in context and/or in other translations on!

While reading about the events that happen in the gospels, and specifically about the lives that were affected by Jesus, I often take a moment or two and ask myself the following question: “Where is faith present (or not present) in this event/passage?” In our passage for this journal entry, faith is a big theme that is woven through a number of different interactions.

The first hint at faith comes immediately after Jesus tells the disciples plainly that Lazarus was dead. He continues in verse 15 by saying, “I am glad that I wasn’t there, because now you will have a chance to put your faith in me.”

Apparently there must have been a lack of faith in the disciples for Jesus to have challenged them with these words. After all the teaching, healing, and miracles, some of the disciples must have still been second guessing if Jesus was worthy of their faith or not. This seems most evident a few verses prior to this when Jesus announces that they will go back to Judea to wake Lazarus up and the disciples hesitate fearing for their lives.

Jesus hits the disciples with the statement that He is glad they were not there for Lazarus’ sickness/death, and it must be because He wants to mentally prepare them for an even bigger truth: Jesus is “faith-worthy”.

This section of the passage concludes on a very pessimistic note. Thomas says in verse 16, “Come on. Let’s go, so we can die with him.” But behind Thomas’ pessimistic statement is the action of following Jesus to the end – and that in itself displays a pretty significant level of faith.

When the disciples arrive at Bethany, Jesus meets with both Martha and with Mary separately, but each sister gets a different response in proportion to the level of faith. While both Mary and Martha begin by saying to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” in verses 21 and 32, Martha doesn’t stop there. Mary seems to have about the same level of faith as the disciples, which is about enough to frustrate Jesus, but Martha demonstrates a greater faith.

We often fault Martha for being the busy, distracted sister during one of Jesus’ earlier visits, but in this event, Martha definitely redeems herself by displaying a great level of faith, leading her to say in verse 27, “I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.”

Even though her practicality would return a few verses later by commenting that rolling away the stone would release a bad odor, Martha saw Jesus as being “faith-worthy”, and she trusted that Lazarus would be resurrected when God’s timing was right. While Mary can be our example for setting good priorities and putting Jesus first, Martha is our example for putting our faith in Jesus when all hope seems lost.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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