3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: John 11


Here's what researchers in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, in which more than 1,400 people from age 20 to 90 have been tracked since its inception in 1958, have observed:

(1) Cardiovascular System: Heart muscle thickens and blood vessels stiffen with age, reducing the amount of oxygen available to the brain and body. Breathing capacity declines by as much as 40 percent between 20 and 70 years of age.

(2) Brain and Nervous System: Some nerve cell structure is lost, along with some function of individual nerve cells. Most severe decline in mental function is a result of diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia, not normal aging.

(3) Kidneys, Bladder and Urinary Systems: Kidneys lose efficiency at clearing waste from the blood.

(4) Bones and joints: Bone density diminishes on average beginning at age 35, with an accelerated rate of loss in menopausal women.

(5) Muscles: Between the ages of 30 and 70, muscle mass declines more than 20 percent in men and women, in the absence of regular exercise.

(6) Eyes: By age 40, the lens begins to stiffen, resulting in difficulty focusing on near objects. Cloudy areas on the lens will become cataracts in more than half of people by the age of 80, according to the National Eye Institute.

(7) Ears: Two types of hearing loss that commonly occur with advancing age are presbycusis, which tends to run in families, and tinnitus, a ringing or hissing in the ears that can also be a sign of other problems, like high blood pressure. Hearing declines with age more rapidly in men than in women.


One of the most interesting differences between the gospel of John and the Synoptics is the centrality of Jerusalem. In the Gospel of John Jesus went to Jerusalem as early as chapter 2 (John 2:13), in contrast to chapter 11 in Mark (Mark 11:1) and chapter 13 in Luke (Luke 17:11) and chapter 20 in Matthew (Matt 20:17). It was, however, not a surprise because of the closeness of Jesus with the siblings of Martha and her sister and Lazarus (John 11:5) of Bethany, which was less than two miles from Jerusalem (John 11:18). The lives of the three siblings are featured more in John than the other three gospels. For example, Lazarus the sibling never appeared in the Synoptics. The death and resurrection of Lazarus was the scene of the last recorded miracle (semeion) in John (John 12:18).

What hope do you have in health or sickness, in life or in death? How does the Bible view sickness and death? Is longevity in life your only hope and the only way out?

Behold the Glory of God

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick."

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. 7 Then he said to his disciples, "Let us go back to Judea." 8 "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. 10 It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light." (John 11:1-8)

A hardworking little boy by the name of Theocrite sang the words "Praise God" like no one else. His praises not only kept him in good spirits, but it also brought joy to others, and praise from God. One day, a monk passing by heard him, and suggested: "I am sure God has heard you, but what if you were the Pope of Rome, singing God's praises in St. Peters Church at Easter time in Rome?"

Theocrite thought that would be a tremendous achievement if he had the opportunity to do so. So the angel Gabriel who heard him, granted it, and he became the next Pope of Rome. Immediately God said, "How is it I do not hear the voice of Theocrite singing at his work?"

The angel, knowing this, became a boy and took Theocrite's place, but he could do everything except one thing -- sing praises to God. God said wistfully, "I hear a voice of praise, but not the way Theocrite sang it. I miss my little human praise."

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