John 11:1-27 | The King of Comfort

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By Armando Yzaguirre, Jr.

Pastor, many of your people are suffering this season. Just for a moment, imagine being present at the scene in John 11:1-27. Mary and Martha’s brother, Lazarus, has died (v14). As one would expect, they were grieving. In the midst of this grief, Jesus walks into Martha believing that if Jesus had just come sooner, her brother would still be alive (v17-21). Due to Martha expressing some belief in Christ, Jesus could have raised Lazarus at that very moment. Yet, for His disciples’ and the readers’ sake, Jesus dialogued with Martha before this miracle occurred and before He proclaimed that Lazarus would rise again (v23). She responded, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (v24). 

Martha was a good theologian. However, even the most theologically sound Christians suffer. Even though believers have the correct answers and solid truth to lean into, suffering still hurts. No one is immune from the pain of death and suffering in this fallen world. Yet, Jesus teaches Martha–and us–a greater truth. In Martha’s quick response, Jesus doesn’t rebuke her or coddle her. Instead, He gives her the truth saturated in love. 

In verses 25-26, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 

Jesus reminded Martha of the object of her true hope—Himself. When people suffer, clichés and cute quotes will not heal their souls. There is no hope in coffee-mug Christianity. Our only hope in this life and the life to come is Jesus Christ. 

When Jesus was ministering to someone who was grieving, He gave her the only truth that mattered. Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in Him have a life that never ends. This life of suffering will end. The life Jesus provides will never end. He is our only comfort in life and death because He is life itself. His life offers promises that are sure and true. The miracle Jesus performed in John 11, by raising Lazarus from the dead, was a sign that His proclamation was true. Yet, the raising of Lazarus was just a glimpse or picture of the true life we have in Him. Pastors, this is what your people need. They need an unwavering faith in the one who brings eternal life amid their suffering. Jesus is the Messiah who came to save us from our most significant plight. 

We were separated from God because of our sins. Yet, Jesus came to redeem us. Our truest comfort is not the negation of suffering but the promise of eternal life in Christ. Pastors, this season, comfort your people with these words and encourage them to believe this even when it is hard for them to see amid the fog of suffering. 

This brief is part of a month-long Advent series designed for local church pastorsmade possible through a partnership between Fellowship Church of Immokalee, Fla., and the Conservative Baptist Network.