Lazarus Sleeps

John 11:5-16 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that said he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goes thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumble not, because he sees the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he said unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 

‘Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus’ – this statement proofs that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus and that He was not neglecting His love, but awaiting the time to demonstrate greater love and power to them. Thus Jesus waited two more days after He was told of Lazarus and thereafter said to His disciples that they must go into Judaea again.

The disciples were worried because the Jews wanted to stone Jesus but Jesus explained that if any man walks in the day, he will not stumble because he sees the light of this world; but if he walks in the night, he stumbles, because there is no light in him.

Jewish days are as follows: sunrise to sunset: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., or 12 equal parts, but they varied in length according to the season of the year (Matt. 20:3-12). The night was also divided into 12 equal parts or 4 watches of 3 equal parts or 3 hours each. The longest summer day would be about 14 hours and 12 minutes and the shortest 9 hours and 48 minutes.

Jesus then said to them that their friend Lazarus sleeps; and that He must go to wake Him from His sleep (referring here to death). The disciples took Lazarus’ sleep for rest and stated that he would get better if he rests. Jesus then said to them plainly that Lazarus was dead, indicating he died the day the messenger was sent. Jesus knew it by revelation.

Jesus was glad for their sakes that He was with Lazarus so that the disciples and others can believe in God. This miracle, like all others, was to confirm further His claims to His disciples that He was in reality the Messiah.

Introducing Thomas, called Didymus, or twin – it was customary for Jews to take a Greek or Latin name similar to their own when going to a foreign land or having much interaction with Greeks or Romans. He was one of the 12 apostles (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13-14). Thomas said that they must risk their lives, and if need be, dies with Jesus. Jesus, through love of His friends in Bethany, exposed Himself to death by His implacable enemies in Jerusalem. Thomas thought it certain death to venture again to this city.

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