This miracle is more complex than the other miracles because it involves Jesus’ friends, and there is more detail to it. We are introduced to Lazarus and his sisters named Mary and Martha. They live in Bethany. We are told in verse 18 that Bethany is near Jerusalem by 1.875 miles. [This is an approximation.] In verse 2, John tells us who this Mary is. She is the one who anointed Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair.
Lazarus’ sisters send a messenger to Jesus concerning the fact that he is sick. They expect Jesus to come immediately and heal their brother. Jesus says the sickness is not unto death, but it is to glorify the Father and the Son. After receiving the message, Jesus tarried for two days where He was.
Jesus tells His disciples that they must travel to Judea. His disciples are concerned about going to this city because there are enemies of Jesus there. They tell Jesus that He will be among those who desire to kill Him. Jesus responds by asking them a question concerning a spiritual condition. He asks them are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walks in the day, then he will not stumble. He can see where he is going. This speaks of spiritual light. Then there are those who walk at night (spiritual darkness), and they cannot see where they are going. They are stumbling because of this.
Jesus speaks of Lazarus’ condition. He tells them that Lazarus is asleep. He is going to wake him up. The disciples do not understand what Jesus is saying. They say that Lazarus does well to be sleeping. Jesus is not talking about resting, but He is speaking of natural death. Verse 13. Jesus speaks plainly by saying that Lazarus is dead. Jesus says that He is glad that He was not there when Lazarus was sick. This was so they would believe in whom Jesus is. Jesus says they must go to him.
Thomas who is called Didymus says to his fellow disciples, let us go and die with him. This reminds me of Peter’s response on the Mount of Transfiguration. He did not how to respond to what he had seen. He said the first thing that came out of his mouth. This is how Thomas responded.
They travel to Bethany, and when Jesus arrives, He finds that Lazarus has been dead four days. I would like to bring to your attention a belief that the Jews held concerning the dead. They believed that when a person dies, their spirit would linger for three days. Because of this belief, there was a possibility that Lazarus’ spirit would return to his body. This is why Jesus shows up on the fourth day.