John 11:4—Did Jesus make a mistake when He said Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death?

Problem: Jesus at first said, “This sickness is not unto death” (John 11:4). However, later even Jesus admitted that “Lazarus is dead” (v. 14). Was Jesus mistaken when He thought Lazarus would not die?

Solution: Jesus knew all along that Lazarus would die and that He would raise him from the dead so that God would receive the glory (v. 4). He used different figures of speech to teach the disciples that Lazarus’ death was not final. He called it “sleep” (v. 11) and said it was “not unto death” (v. 4), meaning that it would not eventuate in Lazarus’ being dead, but in his being alive by Jesus’ resurrection power. That is, although Lazarus’ sickness would temporarily bring death, Jesus’ power would restore him to life.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.