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Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

Today, we commemorate Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and read a devotion from God’s Word for Today: John.

Introduction

In the raising of Lazarus, we see Jesus reveal Himself as the Son of God, the promised Messiah who would come to bring life and salvation. Today, we give thanks for our resurrected Lord, who has conquered death and gives us the hope of the resurrection.

Devotional Reading

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25–26).

The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the last and the most astounding of seven miraculous signs recorded by John. Many people saw this public miracle and still more were told about it. However, not all of them responded in faith. On the contrary, in the case of priests and Pharisees, it hardened their resolve to get rid of Jesus. John makes it clear that Jesus was crucified because He performed works that were leading more and more people to believe that He was the Messiah. We need to remember that Jesus was not put to death because He was a good man or a courageous preacher or an irritating social critic—though He was all of these—but because He was the Son of God. John’s initial witness stands true: “He was in the world, and . . . the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (1:10–12).

We often refer to Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension as His time of glory. For example in 7:39 we are told that the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus was not yet glorified, which means that He had not yet died on the cross, rose again from the dead, and ascended into heaven. See also 12:16, 23.

The three other gospels do not have the account of the raising of Lazarus. However, they all record the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Matthew 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 8:40–56) and Luke also tells the story of the raising of the widow’s son at Nain (7:11–16). An obvious difference between these occurrences and the one we are considering is the length of time that elapsed after the deaths. In the former, the restoration to life occurred shortly after the person had died; in the case of Lazarus, four days had elapsed.

Martha had once been rebuked by Jesus (Luke 10:41), but she did not sulk at this time because of that. She rushed to meet Jesus while He was still on the road. When she met Him, what confidence did she express (11:21–22)? How do you understand our Lord’s words in 11:25–26? Martha’s response to Jesus’ statement that He is “the resurrection and the life” and that He gives immortality to those who believe in Him is a simple yet profound confession of faith (11:27). The last phrase, “who was to come into the world,” is an expression used in Jesus’ time to refer to the Messiah. 

Devotional reading is adapted from God’s Word for Today: John, pages 45–48 © 1978, 1996 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Prayer

Lord, because of our sins, we are in “exile” from our true home. But we give You thanks daily that You send ministers to preach the Gospel of Christ’s death and resurrection, to absolve us of our sins in His name, and thus lead us to our spiritual home, now and in eternity. Amen.

Prayer is from The Lutheran Study Bible, page 1309 © 2009 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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