Summary: March 17, 2002 -- FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT Ezekiel 37:1-14 Psalm 130 With the LORD there is mercy and plenteous redemption. (Ps. 130:6-7) Romans 8:6-11 John 11:1-45 Color: Purple John 1
March 17, 2002 -- FIFTH SUNDAY IN LENT
With the LORD there is mercy and plenteous redemption. (Ps. 130:6-7)
Title: “Resuscitation vs. Resurrection”
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
Chapters eleven and twelve, form a distinct unit in the overall structure of the gospel. In this section Lazarus is raised from the dead, causing the Sanhedrin to condemn Jesus to death. Lazarus’ sister, Mary, anoints Jesus for burial and Jesus enters Jerusalem, his “tomb,” signifying the end of his public ministry. This “end” or, as John would say, “coming of the hour,” is signaled by the arrival of the Gentiles on the scene, whose coming signals, in turn, the beginning of the disciples public ministry.
This is the seventh and last “sign,” miracle, we might say, in the first half of John, called “the Book of Signs,” for obvious reasons, leading into the second half, called “the Book of Glory.” In the Synoptics “signs,” are called “mighty works,” and “wonders.” There are many more examples of Jesus’ unique power than the seven John highlights. John interprets these signs for his community, using them as a springboard to expound and expand on their hidden meaning. In the Synoptic tradition Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain Luke 7 (quickview) : 11-17 and the daughter of Jairus Mark 5 (quickview) : 35-43, but only John reports the raising of Lazarus. He gives it unique importance. Whereas in the Synoptics Jesus is condemned to death by the religious authorities for his whole career and for all his “mighty works,” in John it is this one miracle that causes the axe to fall. John takes this one miracle and makes it the primary representative of them all because it captures, more than any of them, what it is Jesus brings, does and gives: life.
We should distinguish between resuscitation and resurrection. Resuscitation restores ordinary, earthly life, the physical level or level one; resurrection involves eternal life level two or the spiritual level. The physical life that Jesus gives to Lazarus is still not resurrected life. Like the widow’s son and Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus would physically die again. However, the resuscitation is a sign of resurrection, the transition to the state of glory. In the Prologue 1: 1-18, the Word gave light and life to humans in creation. Now the Word-made-flesh gives light in chapter nine, light to the man born blind) and life in chapter eleven, the raising of Lazarus, as signs of eternal light and life.
In verse one, Now a man was ill. Lazarus…Mary…Martha: This cast of characters is introduced, a sick brother and two sisters. “Lazarus,” means “God helps.” It is a Greek form of “La`zar,” an abbreviation of “Eleazar.” “Martha” means “Lady” and “Mary” means “Excellence.” The town of Bethany is on the east side of the Mt. of Olives about two miles east of Jerusalem. Today it is called El `Azariyeh, derived from Lazarus or Eleazar.
In verse two, Mary was the one who had anointed the Lord: This verse is clearly an editorial addition, referring to a scene in chapter twelve, which has not yet been narrated.