Summary: Jesus proclaims His fifth I AM statement, "I AM the Resurrection and the Life" and explains the meaning of his declaration.
The Promise of Resurrection and Life John 11:1-27
The time Jesus spent beyond the Jordan was short-lived and Jesus moves back into the area of Jerusalem in John 11, his death on the cross only days away. The rejection and hatred toward Jesus would not dim the unmistakable witness of the glory of Christ, especially through the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11.
Six miracles have already taken place in John: the changing of the water into wine (2:1-11), the healing of the official’s son (4:46-54), restoring the lame man in 5:1-15, the feeding of the 5,000 in 6:1-14, walking on the water in 6:15-21, and giving sight to the man born blind in 9:1-12. The seventh is the raising of Lazarus from the grave, which is far more monumental than raising the widow’s son in Luke 7 or Jairus’s daughter in Luke 8 because Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days, with the process of decomposition no doubt taking its mortal toll.
Look at John 11: 1-15: 1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." 4 When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again."
8 The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, lately the Jews sought 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 one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up." 12 Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him."
Snapshots of Death and Glory
In the beginning of chapter eleven John gives us snapshots of that final enemy which is the result of every human being’s final and fatal illness, namely death. Jesus was in Bethany “beyond the Jordan” and now the story will move to the village of Mary and Martha in Bethany in Judea about two miles east of Jerusalem.
John mentions the anointing of Jesus’ feet by Mary which does not occur until chapter 12. He may have mentioned this since the readers were already familiar with the event, since John wrote his account many years later, but it still reminds us of preparing one for death. Anointing one’s feet could have been construed as somewhat of a “last rite” showing love and admiration for the person, and certainly pointing us to the imminent death of Jesus.
The fact that Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus concerning Lazarus’ sickness in verse 3 shows us that they were gravely concerned about the seriousness of his illness. No doubt they recognized that his illness could lead to death, and as we all know, every human dies of the last sickness he has. 2 Kings 13:14 mentioned that concerning Elisha and all men: “Now Elisha had been suffering from the illness from which he died.” Sickness and eventual death is a fact of life.
A key verse in this section is verse 4: “When Jesus heard that, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it." It is important to understand the word “glory” and “glorified” in this verse. In the Old Testament, the word for glory denotes God’s divine heavenly radiance and majesty. It denotes “heaviness” to us as human beings: because God is so great and man is so finite and sinful, the weight of his esteem or value should cause human beings to bow down and worship Him when considering His mighty acts of salvation, deliverance and judgment. He alone is GOD!