THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
CHAPTER 11: 1-16
"LORD THE MAN YOU LOVE IS ILL"
"I have told you, but you do not believe. The works I
do in my Father's name are my witness; but you do not believe because you are
no sheep of mine. The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice; I know them
and they follow me. I give them eternal life."
God takes his stand in the divine assembly; surrounded
by the gods he gives judgment. 'How much longer will you give unjust judgments
and uphold the prestige of the wicked? Let the weak and the orphan have
justice, be fair to the wretched and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the
needy, save them from the clutches of the wicked. Ignorant and
uncomprehending, they wander in darkness, while the foundations of the world
are tottering. I had thought, "Are you gods, are all of you sons of the Most
High?" No! You will die as human beings do, as one man, princes, you will
fall.' Arise, God, judge the world, for all nations belong to you.
|Winter: Feast of Dedication||IV. THE OPPOSITION CONTINUES IN JERUSALEM during the Feast of Dedication (Hanukkah)||10:22-42|
|Jesus in BETHANY (near Jerusalem)|
|V. THE OPPOSITION AT BETHANY||11:1– 2:11|
|Late winter/early spring||A. SIGN #6: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead - #5: I AM the Resurrection and the Life"||11:1-44|
|B. The Pharisees plan to kill Jesus||11:45-57|
In chapter 10 Jesus declared to the religious authorities and the people that He had come in fulfillment of the "Good Shepherd prophecies" of the prophets. He has come as the promised King/Good Shepherd, "the Branch" from the house of David, as Yahweh Himself to shepherd His people, and as the One who will bring judgment on those who have failed as "shepherds" of Yahweh's Covenant people. Throughout the Good Shepherd discourse of John chapter 10, Jesus has been identifying Himself with the Old Testament prophetic passages like Jeremiah 23:1-2, 5; Ezekiel 34:2-4, 11, 17, 23-25; Zechariah 11:17; 12:10-11; 13:1, 7-9 [verse 9 quoted by Jesus in Matthew 26:31 at the end of the Last Supper] and Micah 2:12-13: I shall assemble the whole of Jacob, I shall gather the remnant of Israel, I shall gather them together like sheep in an enclosure. And like a flock within their fold, they will bleat far away from anyone, their leader will break out first, then all break out through the gate and escape, with their king leading the way and with Yahweh at their head. He is judging the "wicked shepherds" of Israel, He is judging between the "sheep" [people] of the Old Covenant, He is Himself the Good Shepherd and He will lead the "sheep" that know His voice out of the "enclosure", the Old Covenant established at Sinai, and into the New Covenant established in His blood. He will lead His flock as the Shepherd-King of the house of David.
When accused of blasphemy for declaring Himself the Son of God in John 10:33 Jesus ends His discourse in chapter 10 by quoting Psalms 82:6, a warning by Yahweh to earthly rulers and judges in the presence of the heavenly council. This passage from Psalms sums up the force of His teaching in chapter 10. As always when Jesus cites a Biblical text He knows His audience will recall the larger context of the passage: God [Elohim] takes his stand in the divine assembly, surrounded by the gods [elohim] he gives judgment. 'How much longer will you give unjust judgements and uphold the prestige of the wicked? Let the weak and the orphan have justice, be fair to the wretched and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy, save them from the clutches of the wicked. Ignorant and uncomprehending, they wander in darkness, while the foundations of the world are tottering. I had thought, "Are you gods [elohim], are all of you sons of the Most High [bene elyon]?" No! You will die as human beings do, as one man, princes, you will fall.' Arise, God, judge the world, for all nations belong to you. Psalms 82:1-8
The word elohim is the plural of the Hebrew word el, which is translated "god". In this case the first word in this passage, Elohim in the plural, is used for Yahweh just as in the opening line of the Book of Genesis chapter one. For Christians this use of Elohim in the plural for the One True God in the Old Testament is evidence of the mystery of the Trinity; for Jews the explanation is that Yahweh is greater than all other gods and therefore the plural form of "god" is often used.
The Hebrew word bene is the plural form of the wordben, which is translated "son". [For more information on the names of God in Sacred Scripture please see the document "The Many Names of God" in the Resources/Charts section of Agape Bible Study.]
To fully understand why Jesus quoted this Old Testament passage it is necessary to look at the entire psalms. Please remember, correct Biblical interpretation depends upon context: the context of a verse in relation to the passage in which it is found, the context of the passage in relation to the book and the context of the book in relation to the Bible; "a text without a context is only a pretext." When Jesus quotes a particular verse of Old Testament Scripture He expects His audience to place the verse within the context of the entire passage in order to understand His message. He does not expect any the less of us!
Please read Psalm 82:1-8: Judgment Against the
Judges of the Nations:
1 God takes his stand in the divine assembly; surrounded by the gods he gives judgment. 2 'How much longer will you give unjust judgments and uphold the prestige of the wicked? 3 Let the weak and the orphan have justice, be fair to the wretched and the destitute. 4 Rescue the weak and the needy, save them from the clutches of the wicked. 5 Ignorant and uncomprehending, they wander in darkness, while the foundations of the world are tottering. 6 I had thought, "Are you gods, are all of you sons of the Most High?" 7 No! You will die as human beings do, as one man, princes, you will fall.' 8Arise, God, judge the world, for all nations belong to you.
Psalm 82:1: God takes his stand in the
Question: What is this assembly? Can you refer to other Scripture passages that describe this heavenly council?
Answer: It is the heavenly throne room, the court of God in the Kingdom of Heaven" Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1:11; 10:21; 24:9-11; Revelation 4:1-11; 5:8-14.
surrounded by the gods...
Question: Who are these lesser beings identified as gods? Hint: see the passages noted above
Answer: divine messengers (angels), prophets and/or saints admitted into the heavenly council
Psalms 82:2-4 what is the crisis that requires Yahweh's judgment and to whom is
Yahweh's question addressed?
Answer: It is the crisis of injustice. The Psalms reflects God's response when He sees rulers and priests on earth, those who carry His authority, committing injustice by abusing the authority that He has given them.
are the powers and authority God has given earthly rulers and priests over the
people? Can you name 3?
Question: How have those powers been abused?
82:5: Ignorant and uncomprehending, they wander in darkness.
While the foundations of the world are tottering.
Question: How is this passage related to John 8:12 and 10:4-6?
Answer: The authorities who refuse to follow Jesus are the same kind of men Yahweh judges in Psalms 82. These men are the sheep who will not come at the sound of the Good Shepherd's voice. They have become powerful men who serve the wicked instead of the weak [Psalms 82:2] and the result of their injustice is their inability to see the "light "or to discern the "voice" of the Shepherd. As a result they are left in "darkness", which is symbolic of both lack of understand and being left in their sins.
about the end of the verse? How is it that the "world is tottering" and how
does that relate to the Advent of Christ?
Answer: This moment...the coming of the Messiah...is the hinge of human history. After His resurrection noting will ever be the same again. Christ will redeem man and all of creation and will welcome the "sheep" who know His voice into the New Israel, the New Covenant Church.
Psalm 82:6: I had thought, 'Are you gods,
are all of you sons of the Most High?'
In the Old Testament Yahweh's representatives: angels [heavenly messengers], prophets, priests, and kings were designated bene Elyon "sons of the Most High God" or bene Elohim "sons of God."
Question: What special status had the civil and religious leaders received as God's mediators and oracles to His people?
Answer: God has elevated these men to positions of power and authority over His people. They serve as the intermediaries between God and His Covenant people. It is because of the power and authority God has given them that the rulers and judges of God's Covenant people are counted with the "sons of the Most High God", as members of the heavenly council but who serve in the earthly council [Sanhedrin(m)]. Yahweh was believed to be present in the midst of each Sanhedrin[m] assembly, whether locally in each village or the Great Sanhedrin[m] in Jerusalem. Therefore, such assemblies were designated as "elohim" as is indicated by Psalms 82:6. In that exalted position God has committed these men to His words and to His law, and they are to execute His justice in the "image of God" as a son "images" his father. It is in this "imaging" of God that made them like "gods" but it is also what has damned them because they have failed as Shepherds. They have abused their power by perverting the Law and oppressing the weak. Jesus is inditing the present earthly authority whose responsibility it is to speak the words of God to the people of the Covenant. Jesus is bringing about the prophecy of Ezekiel 34 when God spoke to the prophet saying: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them, 'Shepherds, the Lord Yahweh says this: Disaster is in store for the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves!' In quoting this passage from the Psalms Jesus fulfills Ezekiel's prophecy.
Psalm 82:7: No! You will die as human beings do, as one man, princes, you will fall." These false shepherds will face judgment as all men and women do after death.
Psalm 82:8: Arise, God, judge the world,
for all nations belong to you.
Question: When is this prophecy fulfilled?
Answer: In one sense it was being fulfilled in Jesus earthly ministry and has continued to be fulfilled as nations and people are judged by God throughout the continuation of Salvation History. But there will also be one great eschatological judgment of the nations at the end of time. See CCC#s 677-79; 681-82; 1038-41; 1051-52. On Judgment Day at the end of the world, Christ will come in glory to achieve the definitive triumph of good over evil which, like the wheat and the tares, have grown up together in the course of history." "When he comes at the end of time to judge the living and the dead, the glorious Christ will reveal the secret disposition of hearts and will render to each man according to his works and according to his acceptance or refusal of grace. CCC#s 681-82.
Psalms passage had a direct message for the leaders of the Church in Jesus'
time. Is there also a message in these Psalms and John 10 passages for the
Church today? What are the implications of those warnings?
Answer: The implications are as serious and as dire for today's priesthood and the Church as in Jesus' time. Today the priest "images" Christ, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, and he is still responsible to Christ in how he fulfills his position of power and authority.
In John 10:36 Jesus answers the Jewish charge of blasphemy by telling them that He is not a man who makes Himself god but He is instead the Incarnate Word of God who has become man. He is the Living Word. He performs the works of God with the words of God. He has used these Sacred Scriptures in the Psalms to explain that He is not blaspheming. Instead this passage speaks of Him. He will arise to judge and all the nations will belong to Him. As for the charge that Jesus has "worked" on the Sabbath, they have missed the point that He has continued to confront them on the Sabbath precisely in order to reveal His divine nature as the Word of God!
Please read John 11:1-16: THE SISTERS OF LAZARUS SEND FOR
1There was a man named Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha, and he was ill. 2It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. 3The sisters sent this message to Jesus, 'Lord, the man you love is ill.' 4On receiving the message, Jesus said, 'This sickness will not end in death, but it is for God's glory so that through it the Son of God may be glorified.' 5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,6yet when he heard that he was sill he stayed where he was for two more days 7before saying to the disciples, 'Let us go back to Judaea.' 8The disciples said, 'Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews were trying to stone you; are you going back there again?' 9Jesus replied: 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of this world to see by; 10anyone who walks around at night stumbles, having no light as a guide.' 11He said that and then added, 'Our friend Lazarus is at rest; I am going to wake him.' 12The disciples said to him, 'Lord, if he is at rest he will be saved.' 13Jesus was speaking of the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by 'rest' he meant 'sleep'; 14so Jesus put it plainly, 'Lazarus is dead; 15and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.' 16Then Thomas, known as the Twin, said to the other disciples, 'Let us also go to die with him.'
Lazarus' name is literally La'zar, the shortened form of Eleazar which means "God helps" [Anchor Bible: The Gospel According to John, page 422]. In it interesting that the names of all 3 members of this family: Mary [Miriam], Martha [Marta], and Lazarus were found in 1973 in ossuary inscriptions near the town of Bethany on the Mount of Olives, a village which is now known by the Arabic name, El 'Azariyeh, a name derived from the name of Jesus' dear friend "Lazarus" or Eleazar [The Historical Reliability of John's Gospel', Craig Blomberg, Apollos 2001, p. 165]. These were very common names during that era but it is possible that these bone boxes, found in the same village as Jesus' friends, belong to this family who loved Jesus and believed Him to be the promised Messiah.
The Synoptic Gospels cast more light on the special relationship this family enjoyed with Jesus. This 6th Sign took place sometime between December and March of year 29/30AD. An earlier visit is recorded in Luke. Please read Luke 10:38-42. Sometime after the resurrection of Lazarus, later in March 30AD, Jesus even stopped off to visit this family the night before He entered Jerusalem on the day we call "Palm" or "Passion Sunday." The night before His entry in the Jerusalem friends in Bethany prepared a special Sabbath dinner for Him [read John 12:1-3]. He also dined in Bethany one final time during Wednesday of Passion Week at the home of His friend Simon the Leper where the family of Lazarus may have been present. Please read Matthew 26:6-12 and Mark 14:3-8.
Time-line summary of Jesus' friendship with Lazarus and his sisters:
*Note: Remember the concept of a mathematical 0 place value did not exist in the first century AD so counting any sequence began with the first item [day, or hour, etc.] of any list as #1 and the last item in the list as the last number in the sequence. This is why Scripture testifies that Jesus was in the tomb three days, from Friday to Sunday, instead of two days as we would count the days. When Mark records that it was two days before the Passover that Jesus had dinner in Bethany [Mark 14:1] we know that day is Wednesday because John tells us in John 12:1 that the day before Passion [Palm] Sunday is 6 days before Passover which is Nisan 14 and which would be a Thursday [Saturday = day #1; Sunday = day #2; Monday = day #3; Tuesday = day #4; Wednesday = day #5; Thursday = day #6. Jesus is crucified on the 7th day from entering Bethany on Friday.]
Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Simon the Leper all lived in the village of Bethany on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about two Roman miles from Jerusalem [John 11:18] or about four modern miles from the current city of Jerusalem. Scholars debate the Hebrew meaning of the name "Bethany". Some scholars maintain the name means "place" or "house of grace" [bet = place or house while heni is from the root hen, meaning "grace'. Other scholars believe the name comes from the Hebrew word anya meaning "affliction" and therefore would be "place or house of affliction" [Anchor Bible: Gospel According to John, page 422]. It can at least be agreed that when Christ was present this village was indeed a "place of grace"! The story of the raising of Lazarus is unique to John's Gospel. It is the 6th of the public "signs" of Jesus the Son of God. We do not know why the Synoptic Gospels do not recount this miracle but John presents the resurrection of Lazarus as a historically accurate event that took place in the village of Bethany on the Mount of Olives during the last year of Jesus' earthly ministry.
Bethany is a rather important site in the four Gospels:
Today the town is called El Azareyeh, a name derived from the name of Jesus' dear friend Lazarus/.
John 11:1-3: There was a man named Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister, Martha, and he was ill. It was the same Mary, the sister of the sick man Lazarus, who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair.
It is interesting that John identifies Lazarus by his sisters. The obvious reason would be that he assumes his audience is familiar with these sisters from the other Gospel accounts that mention Mary and Martha but which do not mention their brother. In any event, in verse 3 John mentions an event that will occur in the next chapter. It is unlikely that John is referring to the sinful woman who whipped her tears from Jesus' feet and then anointed them in Luke 7:37. Mary of Bethany has always been a symbol of virtue in the Church and the Church Fathers did not associate her with the sinful woman in St. Luke's Gospel.
There is a problem concerning the identity of Lazarus. There are two Lazarus stories in the Gospels. The other account of a man named Lazarus is found in Luke chapter 16 in the parable of "The Rich Man and Lazarus". Please read Luke 16:19-31. Scholars have debated whether the Lazarus mentioned in both accounts are the same man. If these accounts are about the same Lazarus it would answer the thorny question of why the resurrection of Lazarus is neglected in the Synoptic Gospels, John's Gospel tells half the story and the Luke the other. Some scholars believe that these accounts are both about Lazarus the brother of Martha and Mary and they make a good argument for this interpretation citing the similarities between the two stories:
However, I agree with those
scholars who do not believe the story of Lazarus the poor beggar in
Luke's Gospel and the story of Lazarus brother of Martha and Mary in John Gospel is about the same man:
John 11:3-4: The sisters sent this message to Jesus, 'Lord, the man
you love is ill.' On receiving the message, Jesus said, 'This sickness will
not end in death, but it is for God's glory so that through it the Son of God
may be glorified.'
Question: There is a double meaning concerning death and glorification. What is it?
Answer: Jesus will be glorified by the miracle of resurrecting Lazarus [John 11:4] but the miracle will enrage the Jewish authorities to the point that it will bring about Jesus' own death [John 11:46-54] through which He will be glorified.
Jesus' statement This sickness will not end in death seems at first glance to be ambiguous. Lazarus will indeed die and be entombed.
Question: What does Jesus mean when He says Lazarus will not
Answer: This is another example of John's play on words. Remember a "sign" always points beyond the miracle performed by Jesus. There are two "deaths": physical death and spiritual death which is an eternal death. The reason why the sickness will not end in death is because Jesus will give life, physical life, as a sign of eternal life. This sign in the raising of Lazarus will glorify Christ, not just because people will admire Him, but because it will lead to another great sign beyond Lazarus' resurrection.
Question: What is the symbolic significance of the resurrection
of Lazarus, how does it relate to the healing of the man born blind in John 9,
and what greater sign, beyond Lazarus' resurrection, does it point to?
Answer: The symbolic importance of this 6th Sign is made clear by John from the beginning. We were told in John 9:3 that the affliction of the man born blind was for the purpose of having God's works revealed in him. In John 11:4 we are told that Lazarus' illness is also for God's glory. But this glory will only be fully evident when the Son is Himself glorified in His death, burial, and resurrection.
John 11:5-8: Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, yet when he heard that he was ill he stayed where he was for two more days before saying to the disciples, 'Let us go back to Judea.' The disciples said, 'Rabbi, it is not long since the Jews were trying to stone you; are you going back there again?'
Question: Where are Jesus and His disciples when news of
Lazarus' illness reaches Him? Hint: see John 10:40
Answer: Jesus and His disciples are across the Jordan River on the eastern side in the area known as Perea [Peraea]. The Roman supported ruler of this area is Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who is the tetrarch of both the Galilee and Perea, who is also the Herod who married his own niece and condemned John the Baptist to death. John's Gospel seems to indicate that Jesus' ministry in the heavily Gentile populated Perea extended over a three month period from the end of the Feast of Dedication in December 29AD to the week preceding the Last Passover in the spring of 30AD. In the territory of Perea on the far side of the Jordan River, also known as Transjordan, John the Baptist baptized Jesus [John 1:28]. Large crowds from this area followed Jesus [Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and Transjordan. Matthew 4:25]
Question: Why had Jesus and His disciples withdrawn from Judea to the area of Perea? Hint: John 10:39 and 11:8
Answer: After Jesus' discourse at the Feast of Dedication [Chanukkah/Hanukkah] the authorities were even more determined to kill Jesus.
John 11:7: ...he was there for two more days before saying to the disciples, 'Let us go back..'
Question: Is there anything significant about the two day's
delay? When did Jesus and the disciples start out for Bethany?
Answer: They would have begun their journey on the third day after having received the message. It would have taken a day for the message to come to Jesus, then two days that Jesus remained across the Jordan before leaving, plus the day's journey to Bethany will account for the four days which will be mentioned in verse 17. That He started on the third day puts emphasis on the number 3 as the number that indicated importance and theological significance in Sacred Scripture. Please consult the document "The Significance of Numbers in Scripture" in the Resource section of Agape Bible Study.
Question: Can you think of any other examples of a miracle after
a two-day delay?
Answer: Some scholars have also suggested a connection to the second sign at Cana in John 4:40 & 43 when Jesus healed the Royal Official's son. It is also a life-giving sign and takes place after Jesus remained in Samaria for two days. Then too there is Christ's own resurrection that takes place after a "wait" of two days and occurs on the third day [see Matthew 27:57-28:1; Mark 15:42-16:2; Luke 23:50-24:1; John19:31-20:1 and 1 Corinthians 15:4].
John 11:9-10: Jesus replied: 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of this world to see by; anyone who walks around at night stumbles, having no light as a guide.'
Romans counted the hours of the day from midnight [we keep Roman time], but for the Jews the day began at sundown with the night [the beginning of the next day] divided into four watches of 12 hours and the daylight hours divided into 12 hours of time that corresponded with the daily sacrifice of the 2 lambs at the Temple in Jerusalem [please see the chart "The Tamid Sacrifice" and "Jewish Hours of Prayer" in the Charts section.
Are there not twelve hours in the day? No one who walks in the daytime stumbles, having the light of this world to see by.....
Question: Jesus is speaking of the sun and its path in the
heavens that has been divided into 12 hours of daylight but on the theological
level what is His reference? Hint: see John 8:12 and 9:4-5.
Answer: This verse is related to John 9:4-5: As long as day lasts we must carry out the work of the one who sent me; the night will soon be here when on one can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world. Jesus is the true light. So long as the disciples follow Him they will not stumble in "darkness" nor will they get lost. The "darkness" will not come until the appointed "hour of darkness" determined by God the Father for His Son's sacrificial death and resurrection. Until that time it is daytime and the 12 who were chosen by Jesus as the spiritual fathers of the New Covenant Church can walk with Him in safety.
anyone who walks around at night stumbles, having no
light as a guide.
Question: What event does this statement prefigure? Will the
disciples stumble at the "hour of darkness"? See Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33;
Answer: With the exception of John Zebedee, the Apostles will all "stumble" at the "hour of darkness" when Jesus is arrested and crucified. Of all the Apostles, only John "the beloved" will stand by Him at the cross.
John 11:11-16: He said that and then added, 'Our friend Lazarus is at rest; I am going to wake him.' The disciples said to him, 'Lord, if he is at rest he will be saved.' Jesus was speaking of the death of Lazarus, but they thought that by 'rest' he meant 'sleep'; so Jesus put it plainly, 'Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad I was not there because now you will believe. But let us go to him.' Then Thomas, known as the Twin, said to the other disciples, 'Let us also go to die with him.'
Question: Jesus uses the word "sleep" to express the death of
Lazarus. Even though in Hebrew as well as in Greek culture "to sleep" could be
a euphemism of someone's death, the disciples fail to catch Jesus' meaning. In
their culture "to sleep" forever was death but why is the expression "to fall
asleep" especially fitting for the death of a believer in Christ?
Answer: Because a Christian has the hope of eternal life. A Christian must face physical death but for the Christian it is only a "sleep" because Christ will "awaken" at the time of the resurrection when the Christian will arise bodily.
Question: Jesus tells the disciples He is glad for their sake
that Lazarus has died. What does He mean?
Answer: The significance of the death of their friend Lazarus includes the strengthening of the disciples' faith through the miracle of his resurrection. It is a strengthening of faith they will all need to recall in about two months when their faith is severely put to the test.
Then Thomas, known as the Twin, said 'Let us also go to die with him. The Greek word for "twin" is didymos and was often used as a proper name in Greek culture. The word for "twin" in Hebrew and Aramaic is teoma and although there is not much evidence that it was used as a personal name it may account for our English rendering of this disciple's name as "Thomas". The literal translation of this passage is that this man is "Thomas, called Didymus...". In all the lists of the 12 Apostles he is always called Thomas and never Didymus. John, however, who mentions Thomas more than any other Gospel writer, always identifies him as "Thomas, called Didymus" [see John 20:24, and 21:2].
Question: Unfortunately Thomas is usually remembered for what
statement that revealed his crisis of faith?
Answer: After missing Jesus' appearance to the 10 in the Upper Room after the Resurrection Thomas states Unless I can see the holes that the nails made in his hands and can put my finger into the holes they made, and unless I can put my hand into his side, I refuse to believe. John 20:25. It is unfortunate that most people associate Thomas with his crisis of faith and fail to remember his courage in his statement recorded in John 11:16.
Question: Is it probably fair to balance that statement against
the crisis in faith that all the Apostles were suffering and while remembering
what courageous statement of faith and love for Jesus?
Answer: He was to first to speak up and to give Jesus his support in his statement in John 11:16 that he is ready to die with Christ. The disciples have withdrawn with Jesus across the Jordan River because they know the Jewish authorities are seeking to kill Jesus and perhaps also His followers. We should all hope that our lives will be judges by our acts of courage and not by our failures.
Question: Is there an irony as well as a prophetic aspect to
Thomas' declaration? There are 2 answers. Hint: see Romans 6:8 and
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 for one truth of Thomas' statement and Acts 7:55-60 for the
After Jesus' Ascension Thomas preached the Gospel to the Jews of Mesopotamia, including those Jews who lived in Babylon in modern Iraq. He also preached in the cities of Asia Minor (modern day Turkey) and in Parthia (modern day Iran), later traveling to India and reaching Cranaganore on the Malabar Coast of southwest India in ca. 52AD. Later when Jews who fled Judea after the fall of Jerusalem in 70AD arrived in India, St. Thomas led many Jews into the New Covenant Church. He is considered to be the Father of the Church in India. Indian Christians still make pilgrimages to shrines that remember St. Thomas. He was martyred by the sword while praying at the altar of his church in India. The traditional burial site atop St. Thomas Mount in Madras, India has been venerated for at least 1,500 years. Of the 11 faithful Apostles, only the Apostle John would not die a violent death. See the chart on the lives of the Apostles in Charts/New Testament/Historical
Thomas' story is an inspiration for all of us: We may stumble and we may fall, but so long as we repent and acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior He will forgive us and empower us to be a conduit through the works of God can change the world!
Chapter 11 will be continued.
Resources for chapter 11
Catechism references for Psalm 82 and John chapter 11:1-17 [*indicates verse quoted in CCC reference]
Michal Hunt, Copyright © 1998 Agape Bible Study. Permissions All Rights Reserved.