< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: John 11:1-54 Lazarus

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

John 11:1-54 Lazarus

John 11:1-16 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

8 “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”

9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light.10 It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

12 His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

16 Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Mary, Martha and Lazarus were some of Jesus’ closest friends. We have more information on this family than any in Scripture other than Jesus’ own.

The two sisters were sure Jesus would come immediately when He heard, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

But Jesus said the sickness would not end in death. That it would glorify God and His Son. And they would be blessed because Jesus was giving them a lesson in steadfast faith. God promises that steadfast faith would never be put to shame. Trust in trying circumstances produces in a believer a new vision of God’s character and strong reassurance of His constant presence with them.

John 11:17-27 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Jesus was in Bethany a lot. He and His disciples stayed at Mary and Martha’s home since it was so close to Jerusalem. This is where Jesus started out His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and it was to Bethany He returned for the night during the few days before His crucifixion. AND it was near Bethany that Jesus ascended into heaven.

So, Lazarus had been in the tomb for 4 days when Jesus arrived. Jewish tradition taught that the soul of the deceased lingers close to the body for three days after death, but departs at the onset of physical decomposition. Because it was the fourth day there was no hope he could be revived.
So there would be no question about the great miracle. Also, the house and grounds were filled with crowds of people who had come to be with Mary and Martha. So lots of witnesses and people who the miracle might cause to believe in Jesus.

Martha believed in the resurrection of the dead. But Jesus was going to show her who had the power to resurrect! He told her, “I AM the resurrection and the life.”

John 11:28-37  After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Both Mary and Martha said the same thing to Jesus. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

They both believed in His ability to heal. He was about to show them something more. Even though He knew He was going to bring Lazarus back, Jesus wept. He wept as a man does because His friends were suffering. Jesus cared about everyone. Hebrews 5:7 says, “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears.”

John 11:38-44 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

So, they all walked over to the sealed tomb. Lazarus had been in there for 4 days and was wrapped in burial cloths. Israeli tombs were either natural caves or caves carved from solid rock. There would have been several chambers in there with shelves for more than one body. Jews clothed their dead in a linen garment then tied up the arms and legs with bandages and wrapped the head in a towel. The stone across the entrance was probably round and flat like a wheel, so it could be rolled to tightly cover the entrance.

Martha hesitated. To a Jew, any form of contact with a dead body meant ceremonial defilement. Martha believed everything the Lord said, but now He was calling on her to act on her faith. When she hesitated He reminded her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
When Jesus thanked God for hearing Him, He wasn’t so much asking God for help as acknowledging His complete dependence on His Father.

Can you imagine being in that crowd that day? Hearing Jesus say, “Lazarus, come out!” and then seeing him come out?

Lazarus’ gratitude. Mary and Martha’s JOY! The crowds’ shock!

John 11:45-54 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the people of Judea. Instead he withdrew to a region near the wilderness, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.

The people were divided. Hard to imagine someone seeing that great miracle and falling on their knees to worship Jesus and God!

And isn’t it interesting what Caiaphas said, “it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” Because that’s exactly what Jesus did!

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