[The following scripture passages and questions are here to guide you in your thinking. The questions are not answered. If you are truly seeking, you will sense God guiding you. You will see and understand those things which are most needful for you. And, most importantly, you will know that God cares for you.]
Read John 11 to see the context of this study.
What Jesus did in this passage of scripture demonstrated in a most powerful way that he was the Son of God, the Messiah. The miracles of Jesus were a thorn in the side of his enemies. This miracle would drive them to the awful decision to put him to death as soon as possible and at all costs. Their reaction is recorded in John 11:45-53.
Chapter eleven begins with the news of Lazarus’ illness sent to Jesus by the sisters of his friend, Mary and Martha. They asked that he come to heal their brother. But Jesus waited.
But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
(John 11:4-6 ESV)
Question: Lazarus and his sisters were loved by Jesus. These three had faith but they suffered greatly and Lazarus died. True or false: This passage shows that a believer’s suffering and hardship does not indicate a lack of faith or being separated from the love of God.
Question: Jesus said that Lazarus’ illness would not lead to death. Yet, Lazarus died. How do you explain the apparent contradiction?
Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
(John 11:14-15 ESV)
Question: Verse 6 and this passage indicate the purpose of Lazarus’ death. What was that purpose?
Question: Do you think it is right for Jesus to allow his followers to experience such sorrow as Lazarus and his sisters suffered in order to accomplish that purpose? Would it be okay for him to use you in the same way?
Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.
(John 11:17 ESV)
Question: What is the significance of the fact that Lazarus had been dead for four days?
There were many Jews there to comfort Martha and Mary. When Martha heard that Jesus was come, she went and met him.
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”
(John 11:21-22 ESV)
Question: Is there anything about the words of Martha that indicate bitterness towards Jesus and a lack of faith?
Question: Is it proper for a Christian to become angry with God because of deep disappointment?
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:23-27 ESV)
Question: Martha had knowledge of the Bible and believed that God would resurrect the dead on the last day. Jesus claimed to have that power and authority when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Whom did he declare himself to be equal to?
Question: In this passage, Jesus claims that those who believe him shall not stop living even though they die. And he says that those living who believe in him shall never die. That was 2000 years ago. How do you explain his statement?
In the rest of the chapter we read about how Jesus reacted to the sorrow of those around him, how he called Lazarus from the tomb, how the witnesses reacted, and, finally, how his enemies reacted. You will witness great passion, great joy, great faith, and, surprisingly, great hate. The enemies of Jesus refused to believe.
He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
(Luke 16:31 ESV)
The proof of the existence of the living Christ who rose from the dead is the Church, made up of those who believe in him and claim him as their Savior and Lord. They have had a life changing experience. They experience him daily in their lives. They have tested the promises of the Bible and found them to be wholly true. They live by faith in him who loves them. They learn not to fear physical death because their spirits have been made alive in him. To them death is gain, merely a doorway to a far better thing.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
(Philippians 1:21-23 ESV)
As Jesus asked Martha verse 28 of John 11 —
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:25-26 ESV)
— I ask you. Do you believe? If you do, then praise God! If you want to receive him now as your Savior and Lord, pray to him, confessing your sinfulness and ask him to come into your life as your Savior and Lord. If you made such a prayer, will you contact me so that I can pray for you and maybe answer questions you may have? Go to Contact Bruce. I am looking forward to hearing from you.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.