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Different Hearts, Different Opinions

John 11:36-37

The graveside scene was poignant. Mary and Martha mourned the death of their brother Lazarus, surrounded by the ritual wailing of the village folk. Jesus was weeping too; not just to be socially appropriate, but because He loved Lazarus and his sisters. Death had engulfed the little family and Jesus felt their pain. The deadly consequences of the Fall had thrown this family's life into helpless turmoil (Genesis 3:19). The onlookers had their opinions.

Critical Unbelief

John 11:38-41a

Martha was mixed-up in her mind and heart. The death of her brother, Lazarus, was a profound shock: so too was Jesus' apparent lack of interest, until He arrived four days after the funeral. Nevertheless she had been willing for Jesus to teach her about His power to raise the dead (John 11:21-27). She said she believed that Jesus had the power to raise the dead. When they arrived at the tomb (a cave cut out of the rock and sealed by a heavy stone) Jesus was visibly emotional.

God At Work

John 11:41-44

It was an awesome moment. At Jesus' command the huge stone, covering the rock tomb of Lazarus, was taken away. Then all eyes were upon Jesus as He called out to Father God. He intended His prayer to be overheard: it was important that people could hear God the Son and God the Father working together. He wanted them to believe that He had full authority to give life to the dead.

Jesus Exposes Loyalties

John 11:45-48

Raising Lazarus from the dead was a remarkable miracle. Jesus wanted the community in Bethany to believe in Him (John 11:41-42) and many of them did. Those who had come to sympathise with Mary's bereavement now shared Mary's joy. Mary and Martha had their brother back home alive and well. Emotionally, they were happy; financially, they were now secure because their breadwinner was able to work; and spiritually, they were satisfied because they had God's power at work in their family.

Angry But Prophetic

John 11:49-53

It had to come to a head. The discussions about Jesus were going on and on. Many of the people loved Him, but the religious power-holders hated Him. The idea that Jesus might become so popular that the Roman occupiers would blame the High Priest and ruling Council, threatened their position and reputation (John 11:48). Caiaphas was clearly angry. He did not want any more discussion: he wanted Jesus to be dead.

A Wanted Man

John 11:54-57

Everybody knew that Jesus would be arrested sooner or later. The Council had agreed that He should die, and although they did not know how to achieve their objective legally, the momentum of hatred against Jesus was unstoppable. Now the leaders involved the ordinary people: they had to report His location. So Jesus moved out of the village of Bethany, close to Jerusalem, to a little village two or three days journey north, on the edge of the Judean wilderness. It would not be easy for the temple guards to search for Him there.

The Value Of Worship

John 12:1-6

A celebratory dinner had been organised in Bethany! Lazarus, who had been dead for four days, was alive because Jesus had called him out of the tomb (John 11:43-44). So Jesus was the Guest of Honour, Lazarus was at the table, his sister Martha served the food and Mary had planned a special surprise for Jesus. She had about half a litre of very special perfume, a fragrant oil from the Nard plant.

Prophetic Or Trivial Worship

John 12:7-8

The fragrance of Mary's perfume had filled the house. Emptying half a litre of expensive fragrant oil over Jesus' feet, she was saying 'thank you' for raising her brother from the dead after four days in the tomb. She was pouring out her worship to the Life-Giver. Jesus said that her act of worship was also prophetic.

The Power Of Truthful Witness

John 12:9-11

Everybody had heard that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Wherever Jesus went He attracted a crowd and the celebration dinner in Bethany provided an extra reason - Lazarus was there as well. So, large numbers of people came to see the living and the Life Giver together. After four days in the tomb, what will Lazarus look like, they wondered.

Glimpsing The Glory, Proclaiming The Praise

John 12:12-16

Five days before the Passover, everybody was excited. It was a national festival and spiritual high point in the year. And so many people, who had heard of Jesus, hoped He would be there. When they found that He was close to Jerusalem, they went out to meet Him. Tearing down palm branches as flags to wave, they sang the Passover pilgrim Psalm 118 and praised Him as their King. It was a royal salute.