Death and Resurrection
Introduction: In 1 Corinthians 15:26 we are promised that at Jesus' Second Coming "the last enemy to be destroyed is death." That is good news and it is the subject of our Bible study this week. Do you think it is significant that death is the "last" enemy destroyed? Wouldn't you rather it be the first? How many times in life have we been unhappy with God about the death of a friend or family member? What do we say to others who feel anger? If you believe, as I do, that God is in charge of the universe, how do we explain human tragedy? Should we even try? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn!
- Read John 11:1-3. Put yourself in the place of Martha and Mary. Why would you write "the one you love" is sick?
- Do you think it is true that Jesus had a special relationship with Lazarus? (We are told here that Mary poured perfume on Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair. Elsewhere we are told about these sisters opening their home to Jesus and the disciples ( Luke 10:38-39). The point would be to get Jesus to come and heal Lazarus.)
- Read John 11:4. How does Jesus view the illness of Lazarus? (He says that it will not end in death. Rather, the illness will bring glory to God.)
- Read John 11:5-6. Was the word that the sisters sent to Jesus accurate - that Jesus loved Lazarus? (Yes. This confirms what they said.)
- If the friend you love needs help, why delay two days? (Jesus knows what will happen. However, as we will see, this delay is extremely upsetting to the sisters.)
- Read John 11:7-8. The disciples understand the relationship between Lazarus, his sisters, and Jesus. Do they think going to help Lazarus is a good idea? (No. They think it is dangerous for Jesus to go.)
- Read John 11:9-10. Is this an odd response? The disciples talk about danger, and Jesus talks about walking conditions. Do they just mishear each other? (Jesus is making a very important statement about death. You have an allotted time to live. If you walk in the daylight during your life, you will not "stumble" and you will have your "twelve hours." Jesus tells His disciples that although it is dangerous, He will not die before His appointed time.)
- Read John 11:11-13. What is the relationship between the disciples and Lazarus. Jesus says that Lazarus is a friend to them all.)
- Notice how Jesus refers to death. What does Jesus say is the state of Lazarus' consciousness? (He says that death is like a sleep. This supports the idea that we are not conscious in death.)
- Why do the disciples suggest that Lazarus is improving? (They are still concerned about the danger of going there.)
- Read John 11:14-16. Are Jesus and His disciples on the same page - are they looking at things in the same way? (No. The disciples are thinking this is needlessly dangerous. They are thinking about themselves. Jesus is thinking that He is about to show the disciples and the world that He has power over death.)
- Notice how the disciples and Jesus speak about death in a different way. Earlier, in John 11:4, Jesus said "this sickness will not end in death." How do we reconcile these apparently conflicting statements? (Jesus does not view the death of those who will be resurrected as true "death." He views it like sleeping.)
- Read John 11:17-21. What message is Martha giving to Jesus? (They sent word that they needed help. Jesus loves them, He would surely come and heal Lazarus. Jesus healed all sorts of people He did not know, why would He fail to heal someone He loved? Martha is unhappy with Jesus.)
- Do you think the sisters and Lazarus discussed this issue before Lazarus' death? (No doubt they comforted Lazarus by telling him that Jesus was coming. The One who had healed so many, the Friend who loved him, would certainly come and save him from death. But, then Lazarus died.)
- What message is Mary giving to Jesus? (She refuses to even greet Jesus! My guess is that she is angry and wants Jesus to know it. He let them down and now her brother is dead.)
- Read John 11:22. What is Martha saying? (She is disappointed in Jesus, but she still has faith in Him. Mary is just angry and devastated.)
- What do you think Martha had in mind when she said God would give Jesus "whatever you ask?"
- Read John 11:23-24. What is Martha's understanding of death? (The dead are raised in the resurrection at the end of time.)
- Read John 11:25-27. Let's examine Jesus' statement. What do you think He means by stating He is "the resurrection and the life?" (Jesus says first that He has the power to resurrect. He says next that He has the power to give life to those He resurrects.)
- How do you understand Jesus' statement about never dying when He just spoke about us dying? (Look at this as a sequence. We die, Jesus resurrects us to life. Those who live and believe in Jesus will never thereafter die. The resurrected life in Jesus is life eternal. This is consistent with Jesus' prior statement that Lazarus' illness would not "end in death." John 11:4. Jesus teaches us that the first death is, in reality, a sleep. Friends and family have not died, they are asleep. If they accept Jesus as their resurrection and life, they will rise to life eternal.)
- Read John 11:28-29. Does the fact that Mary got up quickly suggest that she is not angry with Jesus for letting her brother die? (Emotions around death are often fickle. Jesus asked about her. That showed that He cared, and it might have been what was needed to change her attitude.)
- Read John 11:32. Is Mary accusing Jesus? If you were Jesus, what would you say? (Mary is blaming Jesus. She fell at His feet. He had the power. He did not come when He was notified that Lazarus needed help.)
- Read John 11:33-35. If Jesus knew what He had in mind, why would He weep? (Jesus loves us. Although He will defeat death, He is sad when we are sad. He is sad when we think that He has let us down.)
- Read John 11:36-37. One group says, seeing Jesus weep, that Jesus loved Lazarus. What is the response of the other group? (If Jesus loved Lazarus, why did He let him die? It shows Jesus did not love Lazarus.)
- Is this the debate that you see at every funeral of a person "too young" to die? (Yes! And, this story answers the question. Jesus lets people sleep even though He loves them.)
- Read John 11:38-39. Martha is the one who suggested that Jesus could do anything. What has happened to her belief?
- Read John 11:40-42. What does Jesus want the crowd to know? (That God is the power behind the miracle. That God sent Jesus. The glory is being given to God.)
- Read John 11:43-44. Now put yourself in the place of Martha and Mary. Does it matter that Jesus delayed? Does it matter that He did not answer their call when He was needed the most? (No! Everything is right now. Everything is right and this happened "for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." John 11:4.)
- Read John 11:45. How is God glorified? (Many put their faith in Jesus! Even today this gives us faith in God and helps us to understand His wisdom in the midst of tragedy.)
- Read John 11:46-48 and John 11:53. What is another consequence of Jesus raising Lazarus to life? (Jesus sealed His own fate. Put these two facts together when you experience the loss of a loved one. Instead of blaming Jesus, instead of being angry with Him, consider that His death and resurrection allow the resurrection of your loved one from "sleep." He died that you might live. He loved us enough to die for us!)
- Friend, we can see in this story that we need to trust Jesus with our own life and the lives of those we love. We have an allotted time that we are given if we walk in the light. After that, if we place our faith in Jesus, we will sleep until Jesus wakes us to everlasting life! Will you trust Jesus?
- Next week: The Second Coming of Jesus.