The Death of Lazarus – John 11:1-45 – Summary and Meaning

1. Introductory prayer

I calm down and I feel the presence of God in me. I ask for the grace of the Holy Spirit to open the word of God, I accept it and allow it to fulfill my mission in me, in order to become more and more what I am in Holy Trinity. Then I ask God for this prayer, in my own words or with those that are here:

We come to a situation where we can only be quiet in human terms when we cannot see hope. Lord Jesus Christ, you redeemed us with your blood and brought us back to life with the Father in heaven. May your resurrection be my hope when I yearn in the Easter atmosphere and when I yearn for the day that I will see You face to face in glory.

2. Reading – Listening: John 11:1-45 – The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. 10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

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14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake, I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus[a]) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[b] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

3. Thoughts on the Gospel – The Death of Lazarus – John 11:1-45 – Summary and Meaning

If a true “friend loves all the time”, then why did Jesus procrastinate when he knew that his friend was seriously ill? Jesus certainly loved Lazarus and his two sisters and was often a visitor to their home in Bethany. To the surprise of his friends and disciples, however, Jesus did not go to Bethany immediately after the message of a serious illness of his friend. But Jesus explained that Lazarus’ illness would bring glory to God. The glory that Jesus had in mind, however, was associated with suffering and the cross. He saw the cross as the highest glory and path to glory in the Kingdom of God. For Jesus, there was no other way to glory except through the cross.

Jesus knew that during this time it was dangerous for him to travel anywhere near Jerusalem since the religious authorities in Jerusalem planned to destroy him. Nevertheless, Jesus was willing to pay that high price just so that he could help his friend. For Jesus, coming to Jerusalem during the Passover was an act of courage.

Although our time is limited, it is enough for us to accomplish what God wants. God gives each of us its role, mission. We can waste it or use it to the fullest extent of God’s glory. Jesus did not allow circumstances or pressures to dictate what He would do. He also did not allow others to dictate his decisions or when he would do anything. He acted the way he knew he was right, and at his own time. And that’s how he wants to work today, in today’s situation.

Both the Romans and the Jews divided the day from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal hours. Daytime work and travel were interrupted when there was no daylight. If someone wanted to do their job, they had to do it before it got dark. Jesus made a spiritual analogy with our relationship with God. While the light of Christ is with us, we must live and walk in the truth and grace of his light. The time has come for peace with God, and that time is now. When darkness comes, judgment follows for those who reject God and his love.

And what is the significance of Lazarus’ awakening from the dead? It is more than a miracle event. This is the “mark” of God’s promise that all who have died in Christ will be resurrected into eternal life. So Jesus asked Martha if she believed in the resurrection from the dead. The Christian faith, which is a confession of our faith in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and in God’s redemptive power, has its apex in proclaiming the resurrection of the dead on the last day and eternal life. It is our faith and our hope.

God gives us the power of His Holy Spirit so that we may live in Christ. Even now we can experience the power of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in our personal lives. The Holy Spirit is always ready to change and transform us into men and women of faith, hope, and love. He wants us to allow the resurrection of Jesus in our lives right now.

Lord Jesus Christ, you redeemed us with your blood and brought us back to life with the Father in heaven. May your resurrection be our hope as we yearn for the day we see you face to face in glory.

4. Meditation – thinking

About everything I have read and what has touched me, I am thinking now. I let my thoughts also touch my heart. Think:

  • Often we do not understand our current situation, it seems pointless to us, as it seemed to the students. God often gives us an explanation later. How can I give the Lord what is happening to me? How can I trust the Lord?
  • How much do I believe Jesus really resurrected and saved us with His resurrection?
  • Only He can save us, we cannot do it alone. What in my life do I want to give to God right now?

5. Personal Prayer

In the next moments of silence, I talk about this with Jesus. I tell him what I think, what I feel, what I want. I ask him for the grace that I need for … (make your conversation with God).

6. Contemplation – Quiet moment with God

Now I let silence be in me. I am simply present in God, as He is quietly present in me. Perhaps from this silence, I hear God’s speech, which invites me perhaps in thanksgiving and worship or to open myself and accept him in my path life and work, maybe He gives me the courage to continue searching for…

7. Action

When I walk into a personal relationship with God, he changes me, makes me more loving and encourages me to the concrete action, which is….. (write down your insights for concrete action).

8. Prayer at the end

Thank you for being with us in times when there seems to be a long way to go and there are so many injustices. Help me keep hope that Easter comes and that you have already given me the strength to face this time and the people who can support me on your behalf. Thank you, my Lord and God, for loving me.

9. Review of my prayer meditation or reflection

This is my view on what was happening in me at the time, I spent praying. In my reflection, I can help myself with the following questions:

  • How was I feeling when I started praying?
  • What happened during the prayer?
  • What feelings and thoughts could I detect in myself?
  • How did I feel with the revelations, which I had during my prayer?
  • What did I learn about myself, about God, about his attitude towards me and others and me to him and others?
  • How did I finish my prayer?
  • What did I receive for my everyday life?
  • In the end, I can write the lessons, findings, and insights. I can write also, where I had problems, they may have great value in learning about my relationship and myself with God. They can also help to find a more appropriate way of prayer for me.
  • Then I thank the Holy Trinity. If I pray with my family or in the community, friends, I can share with them what I felt in this prayer. With a prayer for one another, you can support yourself throughout the week.

Lectio Divina meditations are published and adapted with permission from the Jesuits home –

Let us remain close in the same prayer! May the Lord bless you abundantly!