The Path of Our Growth in Life, by Witness Lee


If we read John 11, we can see two things. We can see that the Lord already had determined what He would do to Lazarus to manifest His resurrection life with its resurrection power. Yet we can also see that when He went to carry out this matter, the Lord encountered a problem, the problem of human opinions and views. This is a great problem in the Gospel of John. When people read John 11, many of them see the Lord’s power but not man’s opinions. In fact, there are many human opinions in the Gospel of John. In John 11 we are told that Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (v. 5). When Lazarus was sick, the two sisters sent people to Jesus. First of all, the two sisters expressed their opinion in the way that they informed the Lord. How do we know this? They sent people to Jesus to say, “He whom You love is sick” (v. 3). Such a word was full of opinion. The Lord, however, was determined to deal with these human opinions. Hence, after He heard such a word, He remained in the place where He was for two days (v. 6). They wanted Him to come quickly, yet He purposely would not come. They expected that He would come in two hours, but He did not come on the first day; neither did He come on the second day. These two sisters were really suffering a great ordeal because they were full of their own ideas and thoughts. If instead of having their own ideas and opinions they would have just allowed the Lord to come whenever He desired, they would have been freed from having any burden or experiencing any ordeal after they had prayed. However, their prayer was to ask the Lord to come quickly. They were expecting every minute and every second that the Lord would come, yet the Lord did not come on the first day, the second day, or the third day. Even after Lazarus died and began to smell, He still did not come.

Not only did these two sisters have their opinions, but the disciples also were the same. When people told the Lord, “He whom You love is sick; will You go?” He did not go. He was truly the Lord of dealings. When people said, “You should go,” He did not go. But two days later, when the disciples had decided not to go, the Lord said to them, “Let us go into Judea again.” But the disciples did not agree. The Lord Jesus told them, “Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going that I may wake him out of sleep.” The disciples replied, “If he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Then the Lord had to tell them plainly, “Lazarus has died.” Then Thomas said to the rest of the people, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (vv. 7-16). What he meant was that if the Lord was not afraid of being stoned by the Jews and was going to die, then they would go also to die with Him. These were all human opinions.

When the Lord Jesus arrived, Martha went to meet Him. Martha was the active one whereas Mary was the quiet one. When Martha saw the Lord Jesus, the very first thing she said was, “If You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). Her opinion was correct. Because the Lord came so late, Lazarus had already been buried. She seemed to ask why the Lord still bothered to come. We have to know that all opinionated people have an endless number of things to say. Martha’s opinions did not stop here; she went on to say, “Whatever You ask of God, God will give You” (v. 22). It was quite good that she could speak such a great truth. But if she really knew this, why did she still complain? Then Jesus said, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (vv. 23-24). Martha postponed the present resurrection to the last day; this was a difference of two thousand years. Then Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life” (v. 25a). What the Lord meant was, “You do not need to wait until the last day. Where I am, there is resurrection.” Then He continued, “He who believes into Me, even if he should die, shall live….Do you believe this?” (vv. 25b-26). Martha said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who comes into the world” (v. 27). Basically she did not answer the Lord’s question. The mighty resurrected Lord was standing in front of Martha, yet she did not even know Him or understand what He was saying. Why not? She did not know Him or understand what He was saying because of her opinions. After Martha had finished speaking, she went away and secretly called her sister Mary, saying, “The Teacher is here and is calling you” (v. 28). When did the Lord call Mary? Again we see that Mary was very quiet, and Martha was very active. Martha could not hear the Lord’s speaking because inwardly she was full of opinions.

Before the Lord Jesus entered into the village, Mary had also come to him and spoken the same word: “If You had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 32). Up to this point, by the time the Lord could say one sentence, the two sisters had already spoken ten sentences. Martha had opinions, and Mary also had her opinions. There was a whole pile of opinions. Faced with this kind of situation, the Bible tells us that Jesus wept (v. 35). Why did He weep? Did He weep because of the death of Lazarus? No. Did He weep because of the problem facing Martha and Mary? No. He wept because of all these human opinions. The Lord was able to raise the dead. Everyone should have been filled with praises. However, they not only did not understand Him, but they were also full of opinions. Thus, the Lord wept. Today the sufferings we have in our daily life are not real sufferings. The real suffering is that we do not know the Lord. The Lord is truly here, yet we do not know Him. The Lord’s word cannot enter into us, and because of this He weeps.

Later, the Lord, being moved with indignation, came to the tomb and charged the people, saying, “Take away the stone” (v. 39a). Even at this moment, Martha was still there expressing her opinion, saying, “By now he smells, for it is the fourth day that he is there” (v. 39b). What she meant was that since Lazarus already smelled, it would be useless to do anything, and the Lord had no need to open the tomb. On the one hand, John 11 shows us that the Lord has the resurrection power; on the other hand, the whole story is full of human opinions. Then the Lord Jesus said, “If you believe you will see the glory of God” (v. 40). Here what the Lord meant was that regardless of the condition of Lazarus or the fact that he smelled, Lazarus would rise again. This shows us that the Holy Spirit is within us for us to know that Christ is living. The biggest frustration to knowing Christ in such a way is that we have too many opinions. It is because of our opinions that the Lord’s power cannot be expressed and that we cannot know Him. Too often we judge matters only according to our own views and opinions. The reason why the Lord’s resurrection life and glory often cannot be expressed through us is that we have too many opinions. In brief, in order to know Christ and follow Christ, we must put aside all of our views and opinions.

(The Path of Our Growth in Life, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)