Lazarus Raised

The math given in the story of Jesus raising Lazarus to life is profound because it points at itself. What's behind this self-reference?

John 11:1-54

1There was a man who was sick, Lazarus of the town of Beth Any, the brother of Mariam and Martha. FA 2This is the Mariam who anointed the feet of Joshua with perfume and wiped them with her hair. The Lazarus who was sick was her brother. 3His 2 sisters sent to Joshua saying, Our master, he whom you love is sick. John 11:1-3FA 4Joshua said, This is not a sickness of death, but for the sake of the glory of god, that the son of god may be glorified on his account. 5Joshua loved Martha and Mariam and Lazarus. 6When he heard he was sick he remained 2 days in the place where he was. John 11:4-67After that he said to his disciples, Come let us go again to Judah. John 11:78His disciples said to him, Rabbi, not long ago the Jews wanted to stone you, yet you are going there again? John 11:8FA 9Joshua said to them, Are there not 12 hours in the day? If a man walks by daytime he will not stumble because he sees the light of this world, 10but if a man travels at nighttime he will stumble because there is no light in it. John 11:9-1011Joshua said these things and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus is asleep, but I am going to wake him. John 11:1112His disciples said to him, Our master, if he is sleeping he will get well, 13but Joshua spoke of his death and they thought that what he said was sleeping in bed. John 11:12-1314Then Joshua said to them FA plainly, Lazarus is dead. FA 15I am glad I was not there for your sakes so that you may believe, but let us walk there. John 11:14-1516Thomas, who is called, The Twin, said to his fellow disciples, Let us also go and die with him. John 11:1617Joshua came to Beth Any and found that Lazarus had been 4 days in the house of burial. 18Beth Any was beside Jerusalem though separated by a distance of about 15 furlongs. 19Many Jews kept coming to Martha and Mariam to comfort their hearts concerning their brother. 20When Martha heard that Joshua had come she went out to meet him, but Mariam sat in the house. John 11:17-2021Martha said to Joshua, My master, if you had been here my brother would not have died, FA 22but even now I know that whatever you ask of god he will give you. John 11:21-2223Joshua said to her, Your brother will rise up. John 11:2324Martha said to him, I know he will rise up in the resurrection in the last day. John 11:2425Joshua said to her, FA I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, even though he dies he will live. 26All who live and believe in me to eternity will not die. Do you believe this? John 11:25-2627She said to him, Yes my master. FA I do believe that you are the anointed son of god who has come to the world. John 11:2728When she had said these things she went away and called her sister Mariam secretly and said to her, Our rabbi has come and he is calling for you. 29When Mariam heard it she rose up quickly and came to him. 30Joshua had not yet come to the town, but was in the same place where Martha met him. 31Also there, were Jews who were with her in the house, who were comforting her, who saw Mariam rise up quickly and go out. They followed her, for they thought she was going to the burial to weep. John 11:28-3132When Mariam came where Joshua was and saw him she threw herself at his feet and said to him, My master, if you had been here my brother would not have died. John 11:3233When Joshua saw her weeping and the Jews weeping who had come with her he was moved in his spirit and greatly disturbed. 34He said, Where have you laid him? John 11:33-34They said to him, Our master, come and see. John 11:3435Joshua was in tears. John 11:3536The Jews said, See how much he loved him. John 11:3637Some of them said, Could he FA who opened the eyes of that blind man have not kept this one from dying? John 11:3738As Joshua was disturbed in himself because of them he came to the house of burial. That house of burial was a cave and a stone was placed at the entrance. 39Joshua said, Take away this stone. John 11:38-39 FA Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, My master, his body already stinks, for it has been 4 days. John 11:3940Joshua said to her, Did I not say to you that if you believe you will see the glory of god? John 11:4041They took away the stone and Joshua FA lifted his eyes upwards and said, Father I thank you for you have heard me, 42and I know that you always hear me, but I say these things just because of this people who stand around, so that they may believe that you have sent me. John 11:41-4243When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out. 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with cloths and his face bound with a napkin. John 11:43-44Joshua said to them, Loose him and let him go. John 11:4445Many of the Jews who had come to Mariam, when they saw what Joshua had done, believed in him. 46Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them everything Joshua had done. John 11:45-4647The high priests and the Pharisees gathered together. They said, What will we do, for this man does many signs? 48If we allow him to continue like this all men will believe in him and the Romans will come and take over both our country and our people. John 11:47-48491 of them whose name was Caiapha, who was the high priest that year, said to them, You know nothing. 50Nor do you understand that it is much better for us that 1 man should die instead of the people and not all the people perish. John 11:49-50FA 51He did not say this of himself, but because he was the high priest that year, he prophesied that Joshua had to die for the sake of the people, 52and not only for the sake of the people, but also to gather together the children of god who are scattered abroad. John 11:51-5253From that day they decided to kill him. 54Joshua did not walk openly among the Jews, but went away from there to a place which is close to the wilderness, in the province of Ephraim, and remained there with his disciples. John 11:53-54 (John 11:1-54 BRB)


2+2+12+4+15+4+1 = 40 = John


When you talk authorship of the Gospel of John with people there are two ways to think about it. The first, which is the conventional answer, is that the disciple named John is the author. There's no scripture for this assertion, but I suppose people think that's why the book carries the title of John, or maybe because the book carries the title of John they think John wrote it. See the problem? What if the book is named after John the baptist (which I would argue it is)? Does that make him the author?

The second way to think about the authorship question simply hunts for scripture that might tell us the answer. Turns out there's an authorship clue at the end of John.

FA 20Simeon Peter turned around and saw the disciple whom Joshua loved following him, the one who leaned on the chest of Joshua at the supper and said, My master, who will betray you? 21When Peter saw him he said to Joshua, My master, what about him? John 21:20-2122Joshua said to him, If I wish him to remain until I come what difference does that make to you? You follow me. 23This word then went out among the brothers that that disciple would not die. But what Joshua said was not that he would not die, but, If I wish that he should remain until I come what difference does that make to you? John 21:22-2324This is the disciple who testified about all these things and also wrote them. We know that his testimony is true. John 21:24 (John 21:20-24 BRB)

We're told that the author of John is a disciple that Jesus loved. Now, given that information, can we use any other scripture passage to determine which disciple Jesus loved? Sure. It's the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead where we're told repeatedly how much Jesus loved Lazarus (and his sisters, but that's another story). So the author of John, who bothers to say that the author is especially loved by Jesus, tells the story of a disciple who is especially loved. Pretty clear reveal. Also, the discussion with Peter that involves the author at the end of the book spins around the question of whether that disciple was going to die as Peter. What a silly question, unless that disciple had already died once and been raised back to life, like Lazarus. The clues are clear enough that I've believed Lazarus is the author of John for a very long time.

But now the numbers in Lazarus' story point to the book of John. Why? Because Lazarus relates to the book of John in some way that we are supposed to understand. Turns out we already know what that relationship is, but it's great to see the numbers agreeing with the clues previously understood.