I Am the Resurrection[a]
Death of Lazarus.[b] 1 In Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha, a certain man named Lazarus had fallen ill. 2 This Mary was the woman who had anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. It was her brother Lazarus who was ill. 3 And so the sisters sent this message to him, “Lord, the one you love is ill.”
4 When Jesus heard this, he said,
“This illness is not to end in death.
Rather, it is for God’s glory,
so that by means of it
the Son of Man may be glorified.”
5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So after learning that Lazarus was ill, he remained for two more days in the place where he was. 7 Then he said to his disciples, “Let us return to Judea.” 8 His disciples said to him, “Rabbi, just a short time ago the Jews were trying to stone you. Why do you want to go back there?” 9 Jesus answered,
“Are there not twelve hours of daylight?
If someone walks in the daylight,
he does not stumble,
because he sees by the light of this world.
10 But if he walks at night,
because he does not have the light.”
11 After saying this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples responded, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about the death of Lazarus, but they thought that he was speaking of ordinary sleep.
14 Finally, Jesus told them in plain words, “Lazarus is dead. 15 I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. Let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas (who was called “the Twin”[c]) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go so that we may die with him.”
17 The Kingdom and the Promise of the Resurrection.[d] When Jesus arrived, he learned that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.[e] 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles distant, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them[f] for the loss of their brother.
20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went forth to meet him, while Mary remained at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will grant you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus then said to her,
“I am the resurrection and the life.
Whoever believes in me,
even though he dies, will live,
26 and everyone who lives
and believes in me
will never die.
Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is to come into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went back and took her sister Mary aside, telling her privately, “The Teacher is here and is asking for you.” 29 As soon as she heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 For Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were in the house consoling her saw Mary get up quickly and go out, they followed her, assuming that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
32 Mary came to the place where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and beheld the Jews who were with her also weeping, he became deeply moved in spirit and angry. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep, 36 causing the Jews to say, “See how greatly he loved him!” 37 But some of them remarked, “He opened the eyes of the blind man. Why could he not have done something to prevent this man’s death?”
38 Again deeply moved, Jesus came to the tomb. It was a cave, with a stone closing the entrance. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him, “Lord, by now there will be a stench, for he has been dead for four days.”
40 Jesus replied, “Did I not tell you that if you have faith you will see the glory of God?” 41 And so they removed the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
42 I know that you always hear me,
but I have said this
for the sake of the people standing here,
so that they may believe
that it was you who sent me.”
43 When he had said this, he cried out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with linen bands, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Then Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go free.”
45 One Man Must Die for the People.[g] This caused many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, to believe in him. 46 However, some of them went to the Pharisees and reported to them what Jesus had done.
47 As a result, the chief priests and the Pharisees summoned a meeting of the Sanhedrin and said, “What are we going to do? This man is performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will start to believe in him, and then the Romans will come and suppress both our temple and our nation.”
49 However, one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year,[h] said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 You do not seem to realize that it is better for us that one man die for the people rather than the whole nation be destroyed.”
51 He did not say this on his own, but as the high priest that year he was prophesying that Jesus was to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation alone, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53 And so from that day on, they plotted to kill him.[i] 54 As a result, Jesus no longer walked about openly among the Jews. He withdrew to a town called Ephraim[j] in the region bordering the desert, and he remained there with the disciples.
The True Passover That Brings About the Salvation of Humankind[k]
The Hour Has Come[l]
55 The Last Passover.[m]Now the Jewish Passover[n] was drawing near, and many people went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover in order to purify themselves. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and they asked one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Will he come to the feast or not?” 57 Meanwhile, the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where he was should inform them so that they might arrest him.
- John 11:1 Unceasingly, Jesus attests that he has come to give life. The Resurrection is the sign that shows he came to give life. Death is no longer the last word on the human condition, and life now assumes an unusual stability; it is filled with endless hope.
- John 11:1 Death spares no one, not even friends of the Son of God. But unhurriedly and without fear, Jesus confronts it in order to liberate from it those he loves. Death can no longer be the final destination; henceforth, it is simply a passage for which sleep is like a first image.
The Gospel of Luke also speaks of the two sisters, Martha and Mary, but without naming their village (Lk 10:38-42); we know from this passage that it was Bethany, and we also learn that they had a brother. Bethany was on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem.
One notes the decision of Jesus to accomplish his work without hesitation even to the destiny established by his Father (v. 9); and his light must instill courage into those who follow him (vv. 10-11).
- John 11:16 Twin, i.e., Didymus, is the Greek translation of the Aramaic Toma, which means “twin.”
- John 11:17 Faced with the death of a friend and the sufferings of the man’s relatives, Jesus responds with true humanity and a compassionate heart; by restoring life to Lazarus, he shows himself to be the Son of God, to whom the Father has given everything he asks for. The hope of a resurrection on the last day was shared by many believers, such as Martha; this conviction had been growing for about a century or two in fervent Jewish circles, such as that of the Pharisees (2 Mac 7:9-14, 22f; 12:43-45; Dan 12:1-3; see Wis 2:3—3:9). In the time of Jesus, however, the priestly caste in Jerusalem opposed the belief (Acts 23:6-9) and tried to ridicule it (Mt 22:23-33). Here Jesus not only confirms the hope but also reveals that he is the one who fulfills it.
- John 11:17 Four days: the Jews believed that the soul remained near the body for three days after death, giving hope for a return to the body. By the fourth day there was no hope of coming back.
- John 11:19 To console them: according to Jewish custom, there were thirty days of mourning: three days of very great mourning, four days of great mourning, and 23 days of lighter mourning.
- John 11:45 There is peril for the city and its religion unless they accept the unimaginable: that God no longer needs his temple and henceforth is present through Jesus Christ alone. Because of civic and religious considerations it is necessary to decide the fate of this man, who unsettles the certainties and confronts the institutions and the established power.
Without realizing it, Caiaphas, the high priest who had held this office since A.D. 18 and would continue to hold it until A.D. 36, makes a statement that is at the heart of the Christian Faith: Christ will die for all, so that the entire human family may have life. The temple and Jewish tradition are now transcended by a worship and a salvation that are universal.
- John 11:49 That year: i.e., at that time. The Jews believed that the high priest possessed a gift of prophecy, which was at times unknowingly carried out (see v. 51).
- John 11:53 Jesus is placed under a death sentence, which the careful reader will suspect to be illegal because of Nicodemus’ question to the authorities in Jn 7:51: “Does our Law allow us to pass judgment on someone without first giving him a hearing to ascertain what he is doing?”
- John 11:54 Ephraim: on the edge of the wilderness of Judea, 16 miles north of Jerusalem.
- John 11:55 It is the feast of Passover in Jerusalem, a time when faith and hope are reborn in the minds of the people, as they commemorate their deliverance from slavery, the formation of the people, the Covenant, the journey to the mountain of God, and the promised land. Lambs are sacrificed, reproducing the shedding of the blood that had preserved the life of Israel long ago. The feast is full of memories, which are at the same time a promise of a different future. This future is now becoming a reality.
There is now a new Passover, the once-for-all Passover that is accomplished not in a ritual but in an action: Jesus fulfills the former Covenant by bringing to pass that which it had announced and prefigured (Ex 12:1-13, 16); he is the true Lamb who gives his life and whose blood poured out delivers the people from enslavement to evil and sin and opens the way to the true promised land, to the Father, in a communion of life with him.
The last section of the Gospel of John is centered on this mystery of the Passion of Christ.
The fate awaiting Jesus from the first pages of this Gospel is fulfilled; his adversaries have decided to put him to death and are waiting to have the sentence executed. It is the reign of darkness. But the hour of Jesus’ death and defeat is another reality, that of triumph and glory; and it will be confirmed by the Resurrection of the Crucified.
The time of the Church will be inaugurated. She will receive the Spirit promised by Jesus and—as is indicated by the last signs (the miraculous catch of fish and the investiture of Peter)—will be established and sent forth to preach everywhere. She is to proclaim salvation and life so as to gather together all believers until the day when Christ will return in his glory as Son of God and Savior of the world.
- John 11:55 The time for signs has ended. The glory that the signs announced is going to appear. How? It will not be through the deceitful glory of human triumphs; it will be through the presence of God in the action of Jesus and in the transformation of the human condition. Jesus’ hour of glory is above all the hour of his death.
- John 11:55 According to the tradition followed by the fourth Gospel, the woman who pours the perfume on the feet of Jesus is Mary, the sister of Lazarus. With the prodigality of love she expresses her gratitude for the raising of her brother from the dead; but Jesus evokes his own death, and Mary’s gesture points ahead to this, anticipating by her anointing the rite of burial: it is an act of veneration.
Wasteful squandering? Only Judas, whose shadow already darkens the picture, thinks so. It is not such veneration of Christ that turns his attention to the poor; it is avarice—at the same time that Jesus is being glorified at Bethany, the plot against him is being laid for civic reasons, as we saw earlier.
- John 11:55 This is probably the Passover of the year 30, which was to be Jesus’ last. The devout Jews journeyed to Jerusalem to complete the ritual purifications necessary for Passover celebrations (see Ex 19:10-11, 15; Num 9:6-14; 2 Chr 30:1-3, 15-18). Since Jesus had been present in Jerusalem at the feasts of Tabernacles and Dedication, the populace expected him to be there again. A warrant had been issued for his arrest, and anyone who knew his whereabouts had to declare it under penalty of complicity.