JOHN 11:23-32
Jesus is ‘The’ Teacher
Prepared by Dr. John E Marshall

John 11:23-24 (Holman) AYour brother will rise again,@ Jesus told her. Martha said, AI know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.@

Christ directed Martha to look forward and dwell on certainties, for therein is our comfort. Jesus tried not to annihilate Martha=s grief, but to infuse it with another spirit. We don=t ask the bereaved to shed no tears. Even Jesus wept (v. 35). But we do believe our tears should be tears of hope, not despair.

John 11:25a Jesus said to her, AI am the resurrection and the life.@

Jesus truly was the Prince of Life. Death and Jesus could not be in the same room long. In His presence, no one ever died, and no dead body remained dead.

It is noteworthy Jesus mentioned resurrection here before life. In the spiritual realm, Arestoration from death to life precedes the state of life. The whole human race is plunged in death. Therefore, no man will possess life unless he is first risen from the dead. Hence Christ teaches He is the beginning of life. Afterwards He adds the continuity of life is also the work of His grace@ (Calvin).

AResurrection@ means Jesus brings spiritual life out of death. ALife@ indicates He sustains this life once it is given.

John 11:25b -26a AThe one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die B ever.@

Each person is a body and a spirit. God made provision for both. The body will die due to sin, but shall live again through resurrection. The spirit of any who live and believe will never die.

Once we are united with Christ, our spiritual life will never be extinguished. All who believe on Jesus will live spiritually though they die physically.

We call Earth the land of the living, but it would be more correct to call it the land of the dying. Edward the Confessor=s last words were, AWeep not, I shall not die but live, and as I leave the land of the dying I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living.@ Unbelievers may speak hopelessly of death, but Christians rejoice in life beyond the grave.

It is good that Christ, not we, keeps the keys of death. It would be too strong a temptation to be empowered to rob Heaven of the perfect merely to bring back pleasure to us, the imperfect. Except to heal our own broken hearts, none of us would want to bring back the glorified to this world of worry and pain.

Believing in resurrection should make us more careful in our use of the word Ahealing.@ What is healing? Any who live longer on Earth can at best be patched up temporarily. For the Christian, physical death heals forever and totally.
We have all prayed for believers to be healed, yet they soon died. When their last breath departed, they were healed. We said Adead@ at the very moment angels said Aalive and well.@

John 11: 26b ADo you believe this?@

Jesus did not ask if Martha understood. Understanding would be impossible. We are called on to believe more than we understand. Much we grasp by faith defies the grasp of intellect.

Jesus= challenging question reminds us His words are not philosophical statements to be debated. They are facts to be received as law.

We all need to ask ourselves the question in our text. Every word and promise of God should be viewed through the question, ADo you believe this?@

Do we truly believe the promises that apply to our particular case? Our troubles would weigh us down less if we did.

Some never question a teaching of Christ=s, yet also never apply it. They don=t expect to see it fulfilled in their life. We wrongly distance God=s promises from ourselves. To read God=s truth, but neglect it by not applying it, is the same as not believing it.

Belief can be like looking through telescopes. They are helpful only if looked through from the end that brings objects nearer. Too often we look through our spiritual telescopes at the wrong end, and see God=s word as being distant. Bring God=s promises near. Believe them. Apply them. They work.

John 11:27 AYes, Lord,@ she told Him, AI believe You are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.@

This was Martha=s creed. She believed all of Jesus= words about His being the resurrection and the life. She trusted as far as she could, but verse 39 reveals she didn=t believe enough. Martha reached as far as she could, but afterwards learned God=s promises contained more than she ever dreamed.

Faith is an echo to divine words. It hears God=s words, and resolves to flesh them out in response. Martha could not grasp all the implications of what Jesus was saying, but did accept what she could.

AMessiah@ referred to Jesus= office, ASon@ bespoke His nature. Martha believed what Jesus said because she believed what He was. She grounded her faith in Jesus= favored position. She accepted the superstructure because she trusted the foundation.

John 11:28 Having said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, saying in private, AThe Teacher is here and is calling for you.@

Blurting out her confession seemed to calm Martha. Evidently feeling there was nothing more to say, she went to tell Mary Jesus had come. She did it in private probably so Mary could have time alone with Jesus before crowds made privacy impossible.

Only Jesus is AThe@ Teacher. We learn of Him, from Him, in Him, and for Him. His are the only teachings we follow with absolute allegiance.

We honor Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and others, but their writings are not Holy Writ to us. I=m tempted to unduly elevate the teachings of Spurgeon. We honor these men and what they said, but unashamedly declare we have only one Teacher, a sentiment Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and Spurgeon would hastily and heartily AAmen.@

John 11:29-31 As soon as she heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him. Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still in the place where Martha had met Him. The Jews who were with her in the house consoling her saw that Mary got up quickly and went out. So they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to cry there.

The mourners, thinking Mary was headed to the tomb, went with her to comfort her there. This procession assured the events which soon followed would be seen by many witnesses and quickly receive wide publicity.

John 11:32 When Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and told Him, ALord if You had been here, my brother would not have died!@

This was Mary=s creed. Martha stated her creed in words (vv. 22, 24, 27). Mary stated hers in utter self-surrender. Mary was totally humble and submissive.

She collapsed at Jesus= feet. Grief swallowed her words. Mary could say no more. Her tears became her voice. She had no better rhetoric than this, for it reached the heart of Jesus. With Martha, Jesus reasoned. With Mary, Jesus wept. The two needed different treatment.

The sisters showed here the same personality differences they showed in Luke 10:38ff. Martha, eager and impetuous, loved being busy. Mary, more devoted and intense, was the contemplative one who stayed near Jesus. She had sat at Jesus= feet, and Achose the better part.@

Mary had learned and loved at Jesus= feet. Now she needed help at them, and found it. Those who place themselves at Jesus= feet in a day of peace will receive comfort and confidence there in a day of trouble.