Jesus wept: John 11.28–44 (20 March 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

The Gold Bull Calf

1When the people saw that Moses had not come down from the mountain but was staying there a long time, they gathered round Aaron and said to him, “We do not know what has happened to this man Moses, who led us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.”

2Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold earrings which your wives, your sons, and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3So all the people took off their gold earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the earrings, melted them, poured the gold into a mould, and made a gold bull calf.

The people said, “Israel, this is our god, who led us out of Egypt!”

5Then Aaron built an altar in front of the gold bull calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to honour the LORD.” 6Early the next morning they brought some animals to burn as sacrifices and others to eat as fellowship offerings. The people sat down to a feast, which turned into an orgy of drinking and sex.

7The LORD said to Moses, “Go back down at once, because your people, whom you led out of Egypt, have sinned and rejected me. 8They have already left the way that I commanded them to follow; they have made a bull calf out of melted gold and have worshipped it and offered sacrifices to it. They are saying that this is their god, who led them out of Egypt. 9I know how stubborn these people are. 10Now, don't try to stop me. I am angry with them, and I am going to destroy them. Then I will make you and your descendants into a great nation.”

11But Moses pleaded with the LORD his God and said, “LORD, why should you be so angry with your people, whom you rescued from Egypt with great might and power? 12Why should the Egyptians be able to say that you led your people out of Egypt, planning to kill them in the mountains and destroy them completely? Stop being angry; change your mind and do not bring this disaster on your people. 13Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Remember the solemn promise you made to them to give them as many descendants as there are stars in the sky and to give their descendants all that land you promised would be their possession for ever.” 14So the LORD changed his mind and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

15Moses went back down the mountain, carrying the two stone tablets with the commandments written on both sides. 16God himself had made the tablets and had engraved the commandments on them.

17Joshua heard the people shouting and said to Moses, “I hear the sound of battle in the camp.”

18Moses said, “That doesn't sound like a shout of victory or a cry of defeat; it's the sound of singing.”

19When Moses came close enough to the camp to see the bull calf and to see the people dancing, he was furious. There at the foot of the mountain, he threw down the tablets he was carrying and broke them. 20He took the bull calf which they had made, melted it, ground it into fine powder, and mixed it with water. Then he made the people of Israel drink it. 21He said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you have made them commit such a terrible sin?”

22Aaron answered, “Don't be angry with me; you know how determined these people are to do evil. 23They said to me, ‘We don't know what has happened to this man Moses, who brought us out of Egypt; so make us a god to lead us.’ 24I asked them to bring me their gold ornaments, and those who had any took them off and gave them to me. I threw the ornaments into the fire and out came this bull calf!”

25Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get out of control and make fools of themselves in front of their enemies. 26So he stood at the gate of the camp and shouted, “Everyone who is on the LORD's side come over here!” So all the Levites gathered round him, 27and he said to them, “The LORD God of Israel commands every one of you to put on his sword and go through the camp from this gate to the other and kill his brothers, his friends, and his neighbours.” 28The Levites obeyed, and killed about 3,000 men that day. 29Moses said to the Levites, “Today you have consecrated yourselves as priests in the service of the LORD by killing your sons and brothers, so the LORD has given you his blessing.”

30The next day Moses said to the people, “You have committed a terrible sin. But now I will again go up the mountain to the LORD; perhaps I can obtain forgiveness for your sin.” 31Moses then returned to the LORD and said, “These people have committed a terrible sin. They have made a god out of gold and worshipped it. 32Please forgive their sin; but if you won't, then remove my name from the book in which you have written the names of your people.”

33The LORD answered, “It is those who have sinned against me whose names I will remove from my book. 34Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about. Remember that my angel will guide you, but the time is coming when I will punish these people for their sin.”

35So the LORD sent a disease on the people, because they had caused Aaron to make the gold bull calf.

The Death of Lazarus

1A man named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, was ill. Bethany was the town where Mary and her sister Martha lived. 2(This Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Lord's feet and wiped them with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was ill.) 3The sisters sent Jesus a message: “Lord, your dear friend is ill.”

4When Jesus heard it, he said, “The final result of this illness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory.”

5Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6Yet when he received the news that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was for two more days. 7Then he said to the disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8“Teacher,” the disciples answered, “just a short time ago the people there wanted to stone you; and are you planning to go back?”

9Jesus said, “A day has twelve hours, hasn't it? So whoever walks in broad daylight does not stumble, for they see the light of this world. 10But if they walk during the night they stumble, because they have no light.” 11Jesus said this and then added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up.”

12The disciples answered, “If he is asleep, Lord, he will get well.”

13Jesus meant that Lazarus had died, but they thought he meant natural sleep. 14So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15but for your sake I am glad that I was not with him, so that you will believe. Let us go to him.”

16Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow-disciples, “Let us all go with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!”

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been buried four days before. 18Bethany was less than three kilometres from Jerusalem, 19and many Judeans had come to see Martha and Mary to comfort them over their brother's death.

20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died! 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for.”

23“Your brother will rise to life,” Jesus told her.

24“I know,” she replied, “that he will rise to life on the last day.”

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; 26and all those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27“Yes, Lord!” she answered. “I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. “The Teacher is here,” she told her, “and is asking for you.” 29When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him. 30(Jesus had not yet arrived in the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.) 31The people who were in the house with Mary, comforting her, followed her when they saw her get up and hurry out. They thought that she was going to the grave to weep there.

32Mary arrived where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet. “Lord,” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

33Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people who were with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved. 34“Where have you buried him?” he asked them.

“Come and see, Lord,” they answered.

35Jesus wept. 36“See how much he loved him!” the people said.

37But some of them said, “He gave sight to the blind man, didn't he? Could he not have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Lazarus is Brought to Life

38Deeply moved once more, Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. 39“Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered.

Martha, the dead man's sister, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!”

40Jesus said to her, “Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believed?” 41They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me. 42I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.” 43After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave clothes, and with a cloth round his face. “Untie him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go.”

The Plot against Jesus

45Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him. 46But some of them returned to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47So the Pharisees and the chief priests met with the Council and said, “What shall we do? Look at all the miracles this man is performing! 48If we let him go on in this way, everyone will believe in him, and the Roman authorities will take action and destroy our Temple and our nation!”

49One of them, named Caiaphas, who was High Priest that year, said, “What fools you are! 50Don't you realize that it is better for you to let one man die for the people, instead of having the whole nation destroyed?” 51Actually, he did not say this of his own accord; rather, as he was High Priest that year, he was prophesying that Jesus was going to die for the Jewish people, 52and not only for them, but also to bring together into one body all the scattered people of God.

53From that day on the Jewish authorities made plans to kill Jesus. 54So Jesus did not travel openly in Judea, but left and went to a place near the desert, to a town named Ephraim, where he stayed with the disciples.

55The time for the Passover Festival was near, and many people went up from the country to Jerusalem to perform the ritual of purification before the festival. 56They were looking for Jesus, and as they gathered in the Temple, they asked one another, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, he must report it, so that they could arrest him.

In Praise of Wisdom

1Listen! Wisdom is calling out.

Reason is making herself heard.

2On the hilltops near the road

and at the crossroads she stands.

3At the entrance to the city,

beside the gates, she calls:

4“I appeal to all of you;

I call to everyone on earth.

5Are you immature? Learn to be mature.

Are you foolish? Learn to have sense.

6Listen to my excellent words;

all I tell you is right.

7What I say is the truth;

lies are hateful to me.

8Everything I say is true;

nothing is false or misleading.

9To those with insight, it is all clear;

to the well-informed, it is all plain.

10Choose my instruction instead of silver;

choose knowledge rather than the finest gold.

 

11“I am Wisdom, I am better than jewels;

nothing you want can compare with me.

12I am Wisdom, and I have insight;

I have knowledge and sound judgement.

13To honour the LORD is to hate evil;

I hate pride and arrogance,

evil ways and false words.

14I make plans and carry them out.

I have understanding, and I am strong.

15I help kings to govern

and rulers to make good laws.

16Every ruler on earth governs with my help,

officials and nobles alike.

17I love those who love me;

whoever looks for me can find me.

18I have riches and honour to give,

prosperity and success.

19What you get from me is better than the finest gold,

better than the purest silver.

20I walk the way of righteousness;

I follow the paths of justice,

21giving wealth to those who love me,

filling their houses with treasures.

 

22“The LORD created me first of all,

the first of his works, long ago.

23I was made in the very beginning,

at the first, before the world began.

24I was born before the oceans,

when there were no springs of water.

25I was born before the mountains,

before the hills were set in place,

26before God made the earth and its fields

or even the first handful of soil.

27I was there when he set the sky in place,

when he stretched the horizon across the ocean,

28when he placed the clouds in the sky,

when he opened the springs of the ocean

29and ordered the waters of the sea

to rise no further than he said.

I was there when he laid the earth's foundations.

30I was beside him like an architect,

I was his daily source of joy,

always happy in his presence —

31happy with the world

and pleased with the human race.

 

32“Now, young people, listen to me.

Do as I say, and you will be happy.

33Listen to what you are taught.

Be wise; do not neglect it.

34Those who listen to me will be happy —

those who stay at my door every day,

waiting at the entrance to my home.

35Those who find me find life,

and the LORD will be pleased with them.

36Those who do not find me hurt themselves;

anyone who hates me loves death.”

1From Paul, who by God's will is an apostle of Christ Jesus —

To God's people in Ephesus, who are faithful in their life in union with Christ Jesus:

2May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

3Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! For in our union with Christ he has blessed us by giving us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly world. 4Even before the world was made, God had already chosen us to be his through our union with Christ, so that we would be holy and without fault before him.

Because of his love 5God had already decided that through Jesus Christ he would make us his sons and daughters — this was his pleasure and purpose. 6Let us praise God for his glorious grace, for the free gift he gave us in his dear Son! 7For by the blood of Christ we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven. How great is the grace of God, 8which he gave to us in such large measure!

In all his wisdom and insight 9God did what he had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan he had already decided to complete by means of Christ. 10This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head.

11All things are done according to God's plan and decision; and God chose us to be his own people in union with Christ because of his own purpose, based on what he had decided from the very beginning. 12Let us, then, who were the first to hope in Christ, praise God's glory!

13And you also became God's people when you heard the true message, the Good News that brought you salvation. You believed in Christ, and God put his stamp of ownership on you by giving you the Holy Spirit he had promised. 14The Spirit is the guarantee that we shall receive what God has promised his people, and this assures us that God will give complete freedom to those who are his. Let us praise his glory!

Paul's Prayer

15For this reason, ever since I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, 16I have not stopped giving thanks to God for you. I remember you in my prayers 17and ask the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, to give you the Spirit, who will make you wise and reveal God to you, so that you will know him. 18I ask that your minds may be opened to see his light, so that you will know what is the hope to which he has called you, how rich are the wonderful blessings he promises his people, 19and how very great is his power at work in us who believe. This power working in us is the same as the mighty strength 20which he used when he raised Christ from death and seated him at his right side in the heavenly world. 21Christ rules there above all heavenly rulers, authorities, powers, and lords; he has a title superior to all titles of authority in this world and in the next. 22God put all things under Christ's feet and gave him to the church as supreme Lord over all things. 23The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere.

Reflect

Daily Reflection: John 11

This is an extraordinarily moving story, because it shows so clearly the reality of grief. A loved brother has died, and his sisters are prostrated with sadness – and they're confused and resentful, because they believe Jesus could have saved him (verse 21, 32). The words 'Jesus wept' are so striking that they're given a verse to themselves – the shortest in the Bible. It's sometimes asked why he would have wept when he knew he would raise Lazarus, but this is to miss the point: he is caught up in the same deep human emotion that affects everyone else there. This is true of sickness and death today: Christians believe in a glorious life after death, but still experience the bitterness of parting and loss. Death is 'the last enemy' (1 Corinthians 15.26).

The raising of Lazarus, though, is a sign that the last enemy will be defeated as well as all the rest. We might take it, too, as a sign of resurrection in other ways. All sorts of things die: friendships, marriages, careers, hopes and dreams. Sometimes it's right that some things die. But the raising of Lazarus tells us that God can raise the dead.

Pray

Pray

God, thank you for your resurrection power. Forgive me if I haven't trusted you as I should to work miracles in my life, and help me to live in the light of your goodness and grace to me.

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