The Gospel of John – Lesson 30 – John 11:17-44

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 Many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the Last Day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. 26 And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish. Do you believe this?” 27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” 28 After she said this, Martha went back to call her sister Mary. She whispered, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet gone into the village, but was still where Martha met him. 31 The Jews who were with Mary in the house consoling her saw that she got up quickly and left. So they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came to 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 came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and troubled. 34 He asked, “Where have you laid him?” They told him, “Lord, come and see.” 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?” 38 Jesus was deeply moved again as he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said. Martha, the dead man’s sister, told him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, because it has been four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 After he said this, he shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had died came out with his feet and his hands bound with strips of linen and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus told them, “Loose him and let him go.”

Why did Jesus wait until Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days before he finally arrived on the scene? Couldn’t he have come sooner and spared Mary and Martha the grief they were now feeling? Couldn’t he have spared Lazarus from the suffering he must have endured in his final days? Jesus could have done any of those things. But our Lord had an important lesson to teach his followers. It was necessary for Lazarus to die that our Lord could teach us more about himself and the salvation he brings. Let’s learn from the Son of God as he brings comfort and deliverance to those who mourned over the death of Lazarus.

Mary and Martha both knew who Jesus is. Martha confessed that he is the Son of God. She also confessed that Jesus is the Christ. The title Christ means “The Anointed One.” He is the one chosen by God to fulfill the promise of a Savior. Mary and Martha both knew Jesus has amazing power. Both confessed that if Jesus had arrived sooner he could have prevented the death of their brother. But in their grief the sisters seem to have forgotten the full extent of Jesus’s power. Jesus made clear to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.” Now Jesus was about to back up those words with power.

Before we see the power of God in action, we need to look at another important truth Jesus revealed about himself. Sometimes people believe God is far away from us. He has no time to care about our day to day problems. Jesus proved that isn’t true. Notice how he responded to the grief of Mary and Martha. He was filled with compassion when he saw Mary weeping. When he arrived at the grave of Lazarus he shared their grief as he also wept. Our Lord is concerned for us in our times of trouble. He personally joins us in our grief. He wants to help us through those difficult times.

Jesus did more than share in their grief. He completely took it away. He called on his heavenly Father with full confidence that his Father would hear him and do what he asked. Then Jesus called to Lazarus to come out of the grave. Death had no choice but to obey. It immediately released its’ victim. Lazarus came out of the grave. God had preserved his body from decay. He came forward, fully restored and ready to continue his life.

What does Jesus teach us in all of this? Our Lord doesn’t promise that he will bring back our loved ones from the dead so they can rejoin us on earth. Such a resurrection would only be temporary. Lazarus had to die again eventually, as did Mary and Martha and all the others who witnessed Jesus’ miracle. Jesus promises something much better. He is the resurrection and the life. He has full control over death. He will raise us up on the Last Day and give eternal life in heaven to all who trust in him. When he raises us up, all traces of sin will be removed from us forever. Death won’t be able to claim us again. As he promised, “Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.”

Discussion Questions

1 – We often think of Martha as the woman who urged Jesus to tell her sister Mary to help serve the guests rather than listen to Jesus teach. (See Luke 10:38-42) What do we learn about Martha in our Scripture reading?
Martha had clearly spent time learning from Jesus as well. She confessed he is the Christ, the true Son of God. She also believed in the resurrection to life everlasting through Jesus.

2 – Where do we find comfort as we see Jesus weeping at Lazarus’ tomb?
Our Lord is a personal God. He desires to have a close relationship with us. He shares our grief. He cares about us in our times of trouble and he will deliver us.

3 – What was the main reason for Jesus’ prayer?
He did this for our benefit so that we would believe that Jesus was sent to us by his heavenly Father. We believe and we have life in his name.

4 – What does Jesus teach us by raising Lazarus from the dead?
He is the resurrection and the life. He has full authority over life and death. He does not promise to raise our loved ones from the dead in the same way he raised Lazarus. But he does promise that he will raise us up from the dead on the Last Day. He promises to give eternal life to all who trust in him as their Savior.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to