John 11:1-57 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Jesus, The Resurrection and Life
Comments for Study 15

John 11:1-57
Key verse: 11:25


I. Jesus' Heart's Desire to Plant Faith in His People (1-16)

>1. (Review the 7 miraculous signs of this Gospel.)

    Jesus changes water to wine. (2:1-11)
    Jesus heals the official's Son. (4:43-54)
    Jesus heals a man paralyzed. (5:1-15)
    Jesus feeds the 5,000. (6:1-15)
    Jesus walks on water. (6:16-24)
    Jesus heals a man born blind. (9:1-12)
    Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. (11:1-16)

* The greatest sign is Jesus raising Lazarus.

* After this miracle John records other miracles.

* This event seems to foreshadow Jesus second coming.

>What problem arose in Bethany?

* "Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha." (1)

* Jesus was back accost the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. (10:40)

* This sickness was a life threatening sickness.

* Even loved ones of Jesus get sick.

>What was Jesus' relationship to Lazarus' family? (1-5; 12:3; Lk. 10:39, 40)

* "Then Mary whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord's feet and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.' Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." (2-5)

* "Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard (spikenard), and expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." (12:3)

* "As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (Lk. 10:38-40)

* "Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume." (John 12:3)

* It was a love relationship.

* It was a spiritual relationship.

* It was based on a Bible teaching atmosphere.

* They knew where Jesus' was at this time. This shows how close a relationship it was.

* He even stayed at their house.

* In Luke 7:36-50 Jesus cast demons out of a Mary. This Mary might or might not be her. It does not say.

* Mary's perfume experience is mentioned out of order in time to show the love relationship with Jesus and this family.

* The perfume experience was a famous event. All who read this knew of it.

* These were brother and sisters. Probably none of them were married. They were probably all orphans. Jesus was like a father to them. This sickness was really hard for them.

* The brother and two sisters were probably young because Mary still had her marriage perfume.

>What message did they send Jesus?

* "'Lord, the one you love is sick.'" (3)

* "the one you love" -they didn't have to give his name. Maybe because he was sick often.

* This is a prayer for prayers are communicating with Jesus.

>What was its intent?

* So that Jesus would come and heal him.

* They didn't ask him to do anything. They expected because of Jesus' love for Lazarus, that he would heal him.

* If Jesus healed others they thought he would surely help Lazarus, Jesus' close friend.

>2. How did Jesus respond to the news?

* "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.'" (4)

* "Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days." (6)

* Jesus works on God's time schedule, not ours.

>How is his love and viewpoint different than ours?

* Jesus' love lets us go through hard times so that we may learn a greater truth and grow closer to him.

* Jesus let them go through a hard time so they could see God's glory. (6)

* Spiritual love has a point and is based on faith. (6)

* Others would have went back right away to heal him. This would have been all right but Jesus intended to do more than physical healing. (6)

* Jesus had spiritual love. He didn't go right away so that their faith in him and understanding of who he is would grow. He taught to overcome the power of death. (6)

* Jesus had practical love.

* The messengers probably heard Jesus' words and reported it to the sisters. (4) Through this Jesus gave the sisters words to hold onto. This statement was based on his deep relationship that he had with them in the past. Jesus knew their spiritual maturity. He knew what they could take and what they needed. He challenged them to grow in deeper faith based upon where they were at spiritually.

>What can we learn from him?

* Nothing can end in tragedy in Jesus. (4)

* For Jesus all things glorify God. (4)

* If God is glorified, than Jesus is glorified. (4)

* Hardships are opportunities to glorify God. (4)

* Hardships are not random nor do they happen by chance.

* To experience Jesus' power and resurrection we have to die.

* We may not understand God's way of working, but we can be sure that they will bring about what they were meant to.

>3. Why didn't Jesus' disciples want to go to Judea? (7, 8)

* "Then he said to his disciples, 'Let us go back there.' 'But Rabbi,' they said, 'a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there.'" (8)

* They feared for their lives; that is the fear of death.

* They thought that the Jews controlled their life.

* Also some love for Jesus is seen here, but mostly love for self.

>What did Jesus say to them? (9,10)

* "Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours of day light? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light. It is when he walks by night that he stumbles for he has no light.'" (9-10)

>What does this mean?

* "Are there not twelve hours of day light?" -A Jewish day is different than ours. It has twelve hours of sunlight. 12:01 AM was at sunrise and 11:59 AM was night fall. The point therefore is that no one will die before living out the lifetime appointed by God. Jesus would not die yet. Jesus disciples would not die at this time either. Each person has one life (so many years) to be on this earth to do God's work; so a Christian should not fear death. He or she will not die before their time.

* "walks by day" -resurrection faith in Jesus, or a persons lifetime in Christ.

* "Stumble" -death.

* "This world's light" -Jesus, the life giver of the world. (8:12, 9:5)

* "walks by night" -in fear and doubt.

* "no light" -does not have Jesus to guide the way.

* Life and death is in the hands of God, therefore do God's work without fear.

* We will not die by accident or by chance.

* A man of mission will not die before his mission is complete. (Dr. Livingston)

>How did Jesus view death? (13)

* 1 Cor. 15:44b also says "sleep" for death.

* "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.'" (11)

* "Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep." (13)

* Jesus viewed death as sleep. Then we will be waken up in heaven.

* Unbelievers view death as the end of existence.

* There is no need to fear death for it is not the end. It is like sleep. We will awake.

* Death is also referred to sleep in Mt. 9:24, Acts 7:60, 1 Cor. 15:6 and more.

* Good physical sleep -no comprehension of time, temporary, a bridge to the new day, it is good, it is not final, a light thing, not concerned about, a time to put away the burden of the day.

* Death is a mere connection between this world and heaven.

>Why could he do so?

* He is the resurrection and the life.

* He has the peace of God.

>4. How did Jesus help his disciples? (15)

* "'and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.'" (15)

* Jesus knew they had a fear problem.

* He wanted to help them solve this problem through this event.

>What decision did Thomas make?

* "Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'" (16)

* In comparison to the rest of the chapter this is totally out of reality and context, so what was Thomas thinking?

* "Didymus" -Didymus means "twin".

>What was the attitude underlying this decision?

* He sounded like a brave soldier who decided to join a suicide squad for Jesus' sake.

* He was also being kind of sarcastic.

* He was saying it was ridiculous and foolish, but he was willing to do it anyway.

* At least he would stayed with Jesus until death. Notice that Jesus didn't rebuke him.

* Thomas had human loyalty to Jesus, with no resurrection faith.

* Human loyalty is not bad, but it will not save a person. Human loyalty is good because it could bring one to have faith; such as the case with Thomas.

>What was the problem of the disciple? (16)

* "Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'" (16)

* Fear of death

* Thomas was far from resurrection faith.

>How is this different from faith?

* It is not trusting Jesus.

* It is based on human will power.

* It was negative. He was saying death would win. He was saying death is the end.

* True faith is based on resurrection truth.

II. "I am the Resurrection" (17-37)

>5. What situation and general atmosphere did Jesus find in Bethany?

* "On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days." (17)

* "and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother." (19)

* sorrowful, sad, gloomy, dark.

* Under the power of death.

* In the Jewish society after 4 days a person was legally dead. Nothing could bring them back.

* The body starts to decompose, smell and blow up on the fourth day.

* Professional mourners were there.

* "to comfort them" -they had good intentions, but their actions were not good because they had no faith.

>What confidence did Martha have in Jesus?

* "'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you what every you ask.'" (21)

* "Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died."-no faith in Jesus' love and intent, a complaining heart.

* "But I know that even now God will give you what every you ask."-This is a contradiction to previous words. Why? She noticed that she said bad words so she corrected herself, Said almost rhetorically (mechanically), a Christian cliche, had little meaning from the heart.

* The first is from her heart. The second is from her head.

* Martha showed politeness, love and respect for Jesus when she corrected herself.

* She still accepted Jesus because she knew that Jesus was the Christ. (27) Note: She came out to him. She still loved Jesus.

>What shows her disappointment? (Compare Mary's greeting in verse 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.'" (32)

* "if" -they were disappointed in Jesus for not coming right away.

* They were indirectly blaming Jesus for the death.

* They should have held onto Jesus' teaching. (8:31-32)

* Before Jesus praised Mary because she listened to Jesus, but now Martha shows a better attitude than Mary. At one time one will show greater faith. At another time another will show greater.

* She had a complaining and negative spirit.

* A younger sheep of Jesus might not endured this far.

* We, like them, ask why does God delay in answering our prayers.

* Mary had head knowledge, but it wasn't in her heart. Only God can change a persons heart. Jesus was using this to change her heart.

* They were honest with Jesus in prayer. Think of Jesus' prayer on the Mount of Olives.

* The whole problem was them not the event. They were controlled by the event not by Jesus.

>6. What promise did Jesus give Martha? (23)

* "Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.'" (23)

* Jesus would raise him in the flesh right away.

>What did he teach her about himself? (25, 26)

* "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies" (25)

* "'and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" (26)

>What does this mean practically? (See 1 Pe. 1:3, 4)

* "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you" (1 Pe. 1:3,4)

* "I am the resurrection" -Jesus raises people. He has the power. Jesus is the resurrection, it is not a time or an event as Martha thought.

* "I am the life" -giver and sustainer, both physical and spiritual. (1:4)

* "He who believes in me" -trust's Jesus, not the event.

* "will live, even though he dies" -will be in the kingdom of God even though his body dies. This also implies to here and now.

* "whoever lives and believes in me will never die" -will not experience the second death.

* If we are in Jesus whether we are here or in the kingdom of God, life is still eternal life. We are still alive.

* Death is conquered through Jesus.

* No distinction between life and death.

* Eternal and resurrection life does not start in heaven but when we believe in Jesus.

* Death is dead.

* This teaches that Jesus is everything.

* This teaches that believing in Jesus is everything.

* How can we deeply learn this? Through all suffering in Jesus we can learn resurrection faith. Studying a lot with no suffering can only go so far in planting faith deeply.

* When the word is applied, either by us or by God or by someone else we grow in resurrection faith.

* "Do you believe this?" -Jesus said this not because he didn't know but because she needed to examine herself and make a conclusion and say that conclusion verbally.

>7. How did Martha respond?

* "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." -John 11:27

>What was the difference between her head knowledge of Jesus and her practical life? (21, 22, 24, 27, 39)

* She said that she believed Jesus' words, but when Jesus said, 'take away the stone.' Martha's replied, "'But Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there for four days.'"

* It was all head knowledge.

* It was all correct, not superficial theology, but she wasn't getting the point of what Jesus was saying.

* We may do and say everything right but be totally wrong.

* Head knowledge is good but it has limitations.

* She though Jesus was talking about theology.

* Experience is the best teacher.

* Experience often hearts.

* Difference between theoretical understanding and practical resurrection faith is applying it to our life and digesting Jesus' words.

* We need working faith.

* 2 Cor. 4:13-14.

>8. What did Mary say and do when she came to Jesus? (32b)

* "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." (32)

* Same as Martha.

>Who was with her?

* The Jews. (33)

* Again, they had good intentions but was all wrong ("comfort" 19).

>What reveals that she was under the power of death?

* All she could do was think about death.

* She questioned Jesus' love.

* She did not realize that Jesus had power over this dark event.

>How did they encourage her grief and unbelief? (31, 36, 37)

* "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." (31)

* Spiritual struggle here.

* "the Jews said, 'See how he loved him!'" (36) Note: this is past tense.

* "But some of them said, 'Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying.'" (37)

* The Jews reinforced Martha's and Mary's conclusion that Jesus' delay in coming meant that his love for them was weak and he was selfish. They planted doubt in the sister's hearts.

* When God is working to build our faith, Satan sends people and things to make us doubt God and his love.

* They also planted a sense of loss.

* In general they had negative words and attitudes.

>9. Read verse 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." (33)

>How did Jesus feel?

* "troubled"-angry, upset, sad, compassionate

* At this point Jesus didn't rebuke them.

* "Jesus wept"-in anger and love

* The word here also means angry.

* Tears of a shepherd.

* Remember Jesus fully intended to raise Lazarus from the dead.

>Why was he so troubled in spirit?

* Because Martha, Mary, and the Jews all were sorrowful. They were sorrowful because of lack of faith. They thought Lazarus was out of reach of Jesus' power.

* They were controlled by the power of death.

* They doubted God's and Jesus' love and power.

* Jesus was often misunderstood.

* By the power of Satan with chief weapon of death.

>Why did he weep?

* Their lack of faith and hardened hearts over power by the power of death.

III. "You Would See the Glory of God" (38-44)

>10. What happened at Lazarus' tomb?

* "Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid accost the entrance. 'Take away the stone, he said...So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, 'Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know 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. When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out.'" (38-39a, 41-43)

* He used others to help in the miracle.

* Jesus could have woke all the dead here if he didn't specify Lazarus.

>Why did Jesus rebuke Martha? (39b-40)

* Because she had said that she believed earlier.

>How could they and we see the glory of God? (4, 40)

* Be in Jesus.

* Believe him from the heart.

* Don't give up

* Obey Jesus.

* Don't give up before trying.

* Faith, hope and love.

* "When he heard this, 'This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.'" (4)

* "Then Jesus said, 'Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?'" (40)

* Lazarus was raised from the dead. God conquered death through Jesus, his Son.

>How and why did Jesus pray?

* Out of love.

* To teach us the importance of prayer.

* So that others might believe that he was sent from God. (42)

* So that others might believe that God listens to him in everything.

* To magnify God, his Father.

* To show it is God's work.

>What happened?

* "The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face." (44)

>What was Jesus teaching his disciples and us?

* "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" (25-26)

* Resurrection faith.

* He wanted to teach the general principal that he is the resurrection and the life. Not that everyone will be raised as he had raised Lazarus. Our friends and family members will die, but we can not quote this verse and say that they will raise. Their physical bodies will be buried.

* Jesus most important prayer topic is for others to grow in faith.`

Advanced Study:

The Beautiful Work of Faith (45-57)

>1. What were the antithetical results of this miraculous sign?

* "Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin." (45-47a)

>Did the Sanhedrin acknowledge the facts about Jesus' work?

* No.

>What excuse did they give for opposing him?

* "'What are we accomplishing?' they asked, 'Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.'" (47b-48)

>What can we learn?

* That no matter what God does, there will be some who reject.

>2. What pronouncement did the high priest make?

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

>What was his evil intention?

* To have Jesus put to death.

>How did God use his words?

* "He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God to bring them together and make them one." (51-52)

>What can we learn here?

* That God works in mysterious ways.

>What principle concerning God's work can we discern here?

* He is in total control, in spite of what men do.

* He works through those he anoints even when they don't know it.

>3. After this, where did Jesus and his disciples go?

* "Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with is disciples." (54)

>What was the time?

* "When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover." (55)

>Why were people waiting him in Jerusalem?

* "They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, 'What do you think": Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?'" (56)

>Look at verse 45.

* "Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him." (45)

>What can we learn about the work of faith?

* When it looks like God's work will but put to death there is a remnant that believe.