Faithlife Sermons

Crisis (JOHN 11) pt. 1

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Getting Started
From the Commentary
The raising of Lazarus from the dead was not our Lord’s last miracle before the cross, but it was certainly His greatest and the one that aroused the most response from both His friends and His enemies. John selected this miracle as the seventh in the series recorded in his book because it was really the climactic miracle of our Lord’s earthly ministry. He had raised others from the dead, but Lazarus had been in the grave four days. It was a miracle that could not be denied or avoided by the Jewish leaders.If Jesus Christ can do nothing about death, then whatever else He can do amounts to nothing. “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). Death is man’s last enemy (1 Cor. 15:26), but Jesus Christ has defeated this horrible enemy totally and permanently.
1. What are the main themes in John 11? Respond to the following statement: “If Jesus Christ can do nothing about death, then whatever else He can do amounts to nothing.” How does Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus speak to this statement?
Going Deeper
From the Commentary
God’s love for His own is not a pampering love; it is a perfecting love. The fact that He loves us and we love Him is no guarantee that we will be sheltered from the problems and pains of life. After all, the Father loves His Son, and yet the Father permitted His beloved Son to drink the cup of sorrow and experience the shame and pain of the cross. We must never think that love and suffering are incompatible. Certainly they unite in Jesus Christ.
2. As you read the story of Lazarus, what emotions do you experience? In what ways is this story an example of “perfecting love” instead of “pampering love”? How did Jesus use this incident as an opportunity to glorify God? What does this tell us about the importance of glorifying God? About the relative importance of having a comfortable life?
From the Commentary
When our Lord announced that He was returning to Judea, His disciples were alarmed, because they knew how dangerous it would be. (Bethany is only about two miles from Jerusalem.) But Jesus was willing to lay down His life for His friends (John 15:13). He knew that His return to Judea and the miracle of raising Lazarus would precipitate His own arrest and death.
3. How did Jesus calm the disciples’ fears when He told them He was returning to Judea? (See John 11:7–10.) In what ways was this another reminder of the timetable the Father had given Jesus? In what ways did the disciples misunderstand the schedule—and also the reason for Jesus’ visit to Lazarus?
From the Commentary
Perhaps the greatest transformation Jesus performed was to move the doctrine of the resurrection out of the future and into the present. Martha was looking to the future, knowing that Lazarus would rise again and that she would see him. Her friends were looking to the past and saying, “He could have prevented Lazarus from dying” (John 11:37)! But Jesus tried to center their attention on the present: Wherever He is, God’s resurrection power is available now (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 3:10).
4. In what ways did Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus help to prepare His disciples for His own death and resurrection? What other lessons did this experience teach the disciples? What can we learn from Martha’s conversation with Jesus (John 11:21–27)? From Mary’s conversation (vv. 28–34)?
From the Commentary
Our Lord’s weeping reveals the humanity of the Savior. He has entered into all of our experiences and knows how we feel. In fact, being the perfect God-man, Jesus experienced these things in a deeper way than we do. His tears also assure us of His sympathy; He is indeed “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). Today, He is our merciful and faithful High Priest, and we may come to the throne of grace and find all the gracious help that we need (Heb. 4:14–16).We see in His tears the tragedy of sin but also the glory of heaven. Perhaps Jesus was weeping for Lazarus, as well as with the sisters, because He knew He was calling His friend from heaven and back into a wicked world where he would one day have to die again. Jesus had come down from heaven; He knew what Lazarus was leaving behind.
5. What do you think was the initial reaction to Jesus’ tears? Why might the spectators have thought He was crying? What does this say about their belief in Jesus’ healing power? How is today’s church like or unlike the spectators in this story?
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