John: Setup

John 11:1–27

Has Jesus ever disappointed you?

Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

What exactly is that in Martha’s voice here? Anger? Bitterness? Sarcasm? Sincere faith? All of the above at once?

John doesn’t give any snapshots or montages in his gospel. These are long, extended scenes, rich in layers and details. This is one in this chapter is one of the longer ones, and one of the most significant.

This chapter is the shape of things to come.

Today we simply look at the first half. It’s the setup. We introduce the characters—Jesus, his disciples, and three siblings. While Jesus has his posse of disciples that traveled with him, there were others, like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, that stayed put. They provided Jesus and the rest a place to crash when they came to town. And now one of them is sick.

And Jesus doesn’t heal him.

Think about that. Did Jesus heal every sick person? According to this, no. This isn’t a random stranger. This is a friend Jesus loved. Jesus did not heal him, and he died.

Usually when we think of Martha and Mary, we remember them for Luke’s story about busy-ness versus devotion to Jesus. But John gives us a different picture of these sisters. John shows them to us mired in grief. Mary holds on to her grief in private. Martha rushes out to meet Jesus. Is it a tongue-lashing she gives him? Is she accusatory? It’s hard to tell. The way John tells it to us, we can read it all sorts of ways. Regardless, and like the many conversations that have come before it, Jesus says one thing and another thing is heard.

I am the resurrection and the life.

And now all of the pieces are in place for this crucial story that John is telling us.

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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