From the House of The Nazarene. This will be a very in-depth deep dive study of the Book of John.
Let us begin in a prayer. Lord, we thank You for our freedom and privilege that we enjoy in Christ, the privilege, as well, of knowing Your Son, of gathering together to discuss the things of His word. We thank you for this revelation which communicates real truth to us about who You are, and it is a love letter that You give us, inviting us into intimacy with You. We thank You for these truths. In Jesus name. Amen.
We are going to look at John chapter 11 and this is a particularly important chapter because it marks a literary divide in this Gospel. The ‘book of signs’, as it is sometimes called, includes chapters one through twelve. In those 12 chapters there were seven signs and this seventh sign is the most powerful sign of all, the raising of Lazarus from the dead.
So, there is a cumulative build-up here.
But, chapters 11 and 12 are different from chapters one through ten. In chapters one through ten what you had was Jesus’ signs and ministry and discourses associated with the various festivals and institutions of Judaism to show that Jesus was the fulfillment of all that was anticipated in those festivals, the festivals of Passover, the Sabbath, tabernacles and even Chanukah. All these things show truths about Jesus and we can speak of those as interpretive vehicles for Jesus’ self-revelation.
So, we see that picture here. Then, at the end of chapter ten, you might call it a closing frame where it kind of ends and goes full cycle because it ends where it began, across the Jordan river, where John had been baptizing. As we saw in the beginning of John’s Gospel, so in chapter ten after this last discourse He now retreats, knowing that in the following Spring His hour would come; knowing that it would be at the Passover that it would be all fulfilled.
But, the Passover symbolism would be fulfilled in the life of Christ. Christ would be sacrificed on that day when the Passover would take place. Knowing all this then, we have a very different orientation. What you have here is a new and significant step in the work and the life of Jesus. We look here and see, in these two chapters, John 11 and 12, that they deal with the theme of death and life.
There is the theme of Jesus having authority over death and over life and that Lazarus’ death and resurrection, or resuscitation in this case, is really a foretaste, a kind of portrayal of Jesus’ own death, but His resurrection. Lazarus, as you know, was resuscitated, but he died again. It is strange, the idea that he would have a second death. The point is that Jesus, though, once having died, once for all, death never again would have dominion over Him because His death was the ‘death of death’ making Him the master over death.
So, we see in the life of our Lord, then, the One who is in fact not just the One who brings resurrection, or brings life, but He is the resurrection and the life. This is a dramatic claim. The first would be astounding enough, but to claim ‘I-am’, which is the fifth of seven ‘I-am’ statements in John’s Gospel, and we will see it in this chapter. When He makes that claim, “I am the resurrection and the life,” He has a unique claim to an authority that He is the One who bringing life and that He has the power over life and death. Recall, and this is one of themes that you want to keep in mind when you see a film like The Passion, that no one took His life.
You have to understand, biblically speaking, although everyone was culpable, no one really killed Him in the sense that it was some kind of martyrdom. He said, “I have the authority to lay My life down and the authority to take it up again. This authority I received from My Father.” If it had not been His willingness to do so, no one could have captured Him. No one would have been able to kill Him. It is very important that we keep that in mind.
To put it in perspective and I’m not getting political here, but the recent news resonates what the world is thinking, or, another way to put it is: We can have our fingers on the world’s pulse! Franklin Graham said recently; “Here’s another thought about Jim Carrey’s depiction of President Donald J. Trump as a Roman soldier crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ. There’s actually some accuracy there. Our sins are what took Jesus to the cross—my sins, your sins, Donald Trump’s sins, the sins of all mankind. Everyone had a part in driving those nails. But Jesus went willingly to die for you and for me. God raised Him to life on the third day in victory over sin and death. Every one who comes to Him in repentance and faith will be raised to new life—eternal life—one day. Praise God!” Does this make Carrey a Christian? No, Carrey has the same exact thoughts as those who knew and saw Christ crucified so many years ago, that because Jesus succumbed to death and that death was on a cross that made Jesus weak.
Furthermore, the death of Jesus was not a tragedy, but, in fact, a great victory, because it was the beginning of His Glorification. Now the Son of Man is being lifted up; now He is being glorified. That is associated, as well, to His ascension to the right hand of the Father. All of this, then, His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension to the Father, is all the glory of God being manifested in human history and a paradigm in the life of the believer. In Christ, now, in the new covenant, we have a very real identity that is associated with Christ’s death, His resurrection, and ultimately His ascension. All of these, spiritually speaking, are already true of the believer in this life and more fully in the next.