My four most recent publications are:
- The Practice of Evangelical Spirituality Grove booklet, looking at the seven dimensions of biblical discipleship.
- Exploring the New Testament, Volume Two: Letters and Revelation third edition, fully updated, revised and expanded.
- Revelation: Faithfulness in Testing Times, a series of six studies for individuals or groups.
- Revelation, the Tyndale New Testament Commentary from IVP. (If you order from an online store, make sure you choose mine, not the previous edition by Leon Morris!)
My other recent publications include:
- How to Interpret the Bible: four essential questions (Grove, 2017)
- Being Messy, Being Church (Bible Reading Fellowship, 2017)
- Kingdom, Hope and the End of the World (Grove, 2016)
- The Book of Revelation: currents in British research (Mohr Siebeck, WUNT, 2015)
- Evangelical Leadership: Challenges and Opportunities (Grove, 2016)
Jesus raises Lazarus in John 11
In the Sunday gospel lectionary reading for Lent 5 in Year A, we come to the last of our for explorations of Jesus’ encounters with individuals that formed a catechumate in the early church in her raising of Lazarus in John 11.1–45. Next week, on Palm Sunday, we will return to our gospel of the year, Matthew, in the lead in to Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.
This remarkable extended narrative forms a turning point in the Fourth Gospel. The gospel is commonly seen as being in two halves, the so-called ‘Book of Signs’ running from the prologue until now, and the ‘Book of Glory’ which runs from chapter 12 to the end. (In a previous scholarly generation, these were understood to reflect two different [written] sources behind the final form of the gospel; but we don’t need to have this obsessed with sources to note that there is different language, a different emphasis, even a different ‘feel’ in the first half and the second half of the gospel.) The seven signs in the gospel are most commonly understood to be:
Changing water into wine at Cana in John 2:1-11 – “the first of the signs”
Healing the royal official’s son in Capernaum in John 4:46-54
Healing the paralytic at Bethesda in John 5:1-15
Feeding the 5000 in John 6:5-14
Jesus walking on water in John 6:16-24
Healing the man blind from birth in John 9:1-7
The raising of Lazarus in John 11:1-45
There is some debate here, because they are not each explicitly identified in the narrative as a ‘sign’, so some readers see the feeding of the 5,000 and the walking on the water as one, combined, sign, making Jesus’ own resurrection the seventh. However, the signs are quite clearly depicted as partial revelations which point forward to ultimate reality, and it makes more sense to see each of these seven pointing forward to the eighth, the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, which (if ‘seven’ signifies this age, with its seven days of creation and rest) depict this as the beginning of the new age to come.
The narrative itself is vivid and compelling, full of arresting detail and emotion. Jo-Ann Brant, in her Paideia commentary, observes:
The principal action is a reversal—the dead one lives—but to the simplicity of this reversal, John adds the complexity of emotion, allusion, report, reaction, and counterreaction. Grief and censure turn to an expression of gratitude—the anointing of feet—that in turn comes to signify a funerary rite. Jesus raises Lazarus to life, and the authorities plot to take both their lives. John plays with epithets and allusions to underscore that Lazarus’ story foreshadows Jesus’ death and resurrection in a variety of ways (p 170).
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Jesus raises Lazarus in John 11 video discussion
The gospel lectionary reading for Lent 5 in Year A is the raising of Lazarus in John 11, the last of our four encounters between Jesus and individuals in the…
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Jesus heals the man born blind in John 9 video discussion
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Jesus meets the woman of Samaria by a well in John 4 video discussion
The gospel lectionary reading for Lent 3 is John 4.5-42, probably the longest reading in the lectionary! The story is well-known—but common interpretations of the story are worth examining carefully….