The seventh ‘sign’.
- Compare verse 4 with 9:3. Explain the apparent contradiction both in verse 4 and also in verses 5, 6. See verses 14, 15. Can you see why God sometimes seems to delay answering your prayer?
- What direction and assurance do verses 9, 10 give for the conduct of your life? Cf. 9:4, 5.
- In verses 21, 22, 24, Martha makes three correct but limited statements. In respect to each of them Jesus’ answer in verses 25, 26 reveals that he has within himself infinitely greater powers than she knew. What are they?
Verse 26. ‘He who believes in me will live’: for the believer death is no longer death. It introduces him into a new state of life. See Note on John 8:51.
- What is the special significance of this seventh ‘sign’? How is it related to the events that Jesus was shortly to experience as the climax of his work? In what way was the glory of God revealed?
- Why did Jesus pray aloud before calling Lazarus from the tomb? What does this teach about the means by which his miracles were accomplished? Cf. John 5:19, 20; 14:10.
Verses 33-38. The word ‘weep’ in verse 33 is the wailing of mourners; that in verse 35 implies silent tears of sympathy. The rendering of verse 33, ‘he was deeply moved in spirit’, does not give the full force of the Greek, for which Prof. Tasker suggests, ‘He was enraged in spirit and troubled himself’ (TNTC, p. 140). His anger was roused against the evil powers of death, which caused such distress to mankind, and which he was about to conquer, here by a mighty display of divine power, and fully on the cross by his own death and resurrection.
- Observe the varied effects of the miracle. See especially 11:45, 46, 47-53, 54; 12:10, 11, 17-19; and cf. Luke 16:31. How is it that the same act quickens faith in same, and hatred in others? Cf. 11:47, 48; 12:11, 19; Matt. 27:18.
- 12:1-8. What insights does Mary’s action reveal? How far does your love for the Lord lead you to understand him, and to serve him without counting the cost?
- In 11:47-53 and 12:12-16 there are two examples of God overruling men’s words and actions to fulfill his own purposes. What is the real purpose of God to which each points?
- 11:48. The Jewish leaders feared that Jesus might lead a revolt for which the Romans would exact severe punishment.
The Greeks who inquired for Jesus were a token of the world of people beyond Israel who would be saved through Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection (cf. 10:16; 12:32). Their coming therefore introduces the consummation of Jesus’ work; see verse 23.
- Give examples of the ways in which you can love your life, or hate it. To whom does Jesus primarily refer in verse 24? In view of this, what is involved in following him (verse 26)?
- In what .sense did the coming ‘hour’ (verse 23) bring about the glorifying of the Son of man and the Father (verse 28)? How did his being lifted up involve the judgment of this world (verses 31-34)?
- Verses 35, 36 give Jesus’ last appeal to the nation. What is meant by walking and believing in the light? Are you doing this?
This passage presents the problem of unbelief in face of manifest evidence of God’s power and presence.
- Both quotations from Isaiah in verses 38-40 speak of Christ, the Latter because Christ’s glory is included in the vision of God’s glory in Isaiah 6. Who has and who has not ‘believed our report’? Why has God blinded their eyes, etc.? Does this apply today to: (a) Jews, and (b) non-Jews? Why do you believe?
- The seriousness of rejecting Jesus is the subject of verses 44-50, in which John summarizes the teaching of Jesus on this matter. Why is it so serious to reject Jesus? See verses 45, 46, 50, and compare Prov. 1:20-33. Why will Jesus’ word be the judge (verse 48)?
- Verse 42. ‘Put out of the synagogue’: cf. 9:22. This was a very severe punishment, involving separation from public worship and from social intercourse.
- Verse 45. ‘Sees’: here is the concept of careful observation leading to spiritual insight.