THE SIGN OF MEN’S OPINION
When the Lord wanted to go into Judea, He encountered the frustration caused by man’s opinion. In other chapters of this Gospel the opposition to the Lord Jesus and the frustration came from those in the Jewish religion. But in this chapter the Lord Jesus was in Galilee, far away from Jerusalem, the religious center. In this chapter the frustration came not from the opposers in religion but from human opinion. The disciples were the first to express an opposing opinion (vv. 8, 11-16). They said to the Lord that the Jews were seeking to stone Him and therefore He should not go into Judea.
A Sign of Walking in Darkness
The Lord’s word to His disciples in verses 9 and 10 indicates that their opinion was a sign that they were walking in darkness: “Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” All opinionated persons are in darkness. Opinions are a sign of darkness because to utter an opinion is to speak nonsense. The reason a person speaks nonsense is that he is in the darkness. But the Lord Jesus is fully in the light, and He Himself is the light. Furthermore, whenever the Lord is present, there is day. In these verses the Lord Jesus seemed to be saying, “As long as I am here, you are not in darkness. I am the light. Since the light is here, it is daytime. I say that we should go into Judea. But if you say that we should not go, you are expressing a contrary opinion, and you are in darkness.”
Whenever we express an opinion that is contrary to the Lord’s will, that opinion signifies that we are not walking in the day but in the darkness. If we are following the Lord, we should say “amen” to whatever He says and not express any opinion. As long as we express an opinion of any kind, that opinion will be a sign that we are in darkness and that we do not know what we are saying. Only the Lord knows what to say. When He says, “Let us go,” that is something in the day, in the light. The Lord’s guidance always is light. If we follow His guidance, we shall be in the day, and we shall walk in the light. But if we follow our opinion, we shall be in darkness. Therefore, man’s opinion is a sign of darkness.
A Sign of the Frustration to the Lord’s Resurrection Life
Men’s opinion is also a sign of the frustration to the Lord’s resurrection life (vv. 11-40). In verses 11 through 16 we see the disciples’ opinion. When the Lord told them that He wanted to go into Judea, they should have immediately gone with Him. But instead they expressed their opinion, and this was a frustration to the Lord. In verse 11 the Lord said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going that I may awaken him out of sleep.” This word is the Lord’s revelation. But the disciples went on to expound this revelation in their own way: “The disciples then said to Him, Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover” (v. 12). This expounding of the Lord’s word made it necessary for Him to tell them plainly that Lazarus had died (v. 14). Eventually the Lord’s disciples followed Him to Judea.
In 11:17-28 we see Martha’s opinion. Martha did not give the Lord an opportunity to say a word. Immediately she complained to Him, saying, “Lord, if You were here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21). Martha seemed to be saying to the Lord, “Why didn’t You come earlier? If You had come four days ago, Lazarus would still be alive. But he is dead and buried. What is the use of Your coming?”
The Lord said to Martha, “Your brother shall rise again” (v. 23). Martha replied, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day” (v. 24). When the Lord said that Lazarus would rise again, He meant that Lazarus would be resurrected that very day. Martha, however, in her expounding of the Lord’s word, postponed this resurrection until the last day. Like Martha, sometimes we also explain away the Lord’s word. We may read something in the Scriptures and then say that this is not for our experience today, but for some time in the future. For example, some may claim that eternal life is only for eternity and not for our experience today. This is to explain away a word from the Lord that is meant for us to experience today.
After Martha had explained the Lord’s word about Lazarus’ resurrection by saying that he would rise again in the resurrection in the last day, Jesus went on to say to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me, even if he should die, shall live; and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall by no means die forever. Do you believe this?” (vv. 25-26). Here the Lord Jesus spoke in the present tense, saying, “I am the resurrection and the life.” The words “I am” indicate that He is Jehovah, the great I Am. With Him there is no time element. Because the Lord Himself is resurrection, whenever He is present, resurrection is there. The Lord seemed to be telling Martha, “There is no need for you to complain that I have come too late. I am the resurrection, and I am the life. With Me there is no element of time. Therefore, with Me there is no such thing as being too late.”
In verse 27 Martha again spoke to the Lord in an opinionated way. When she had finished speaking, “she went away and called her sister Mary, saying secretly, The Teacher is here and is calling you” (v. 28). There is no indication that the Lord had called for Mary. It is likely that this was initiated by Martha and that her word to Mary was yet another aspect of her opinion. Martha may have thought that it was not sufficient for her to talk to the Lord. She may have wanted her sister to join her in complaining about the situation.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 30, by Witness Lee)