Sunday March 5, 2023 Sunday School AUDIO ONLY
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Delivered By
Dennis Travis
Delivered On
March 5, 2023 at 11:30 AM
Central Passage
John 11:32-46
Session 13, I am the Resurrection

I Am the Resurrection
Jesus is sovereign over all creation.
JOHN 11:32-46
Some funerals are different than others. Services for deceased who were not believers seem to have a sense of finality. In contrast, while Christian families grieve, they know they will see their loved ones again. Faith in the resurrected Christ and His promise of eternal life comforts them. The funeral of a believer is not a final goodbye but a temporary farewell until they meet again, where sadness will melt into joy.
What is the most memorable funeral service you have ever attended? Explain.
JOHN 11:1-57
Having received word that His friend, Lazarus, was sick, Jesus deliberately delayed going to him. He waited until Lazarus was dead for several days so Lazarus’s family and the people around Bethany might witness His resurrection power and glorify the Father. At first, Jesus’s disciples tried to dissuade Him from going so close to Jerusalem since the Jews there had tried to kill Him. Thomas courageously urged his companions to go along even if it meant dying with Jesus.
Once they arrived in Bethany, Jesus was met by Lazarus’s sisters. Each sister expressed regret that Jesus delayed coming to see Lazarus. They knew if He had been present, their brother would not have died. Jesus timed His delay, in part, to challenge them to greater faith. He spoke specifically to Martha twice—once to encourage her faith in Him as the resurrection and the life, then later at Lazarus’s tomb to remind her to believe so she might see God’s power.
The Jewish leaders were becoming more determined to destroy Jesus. Jesus’s bringing Lazarus back from the dead fueled their determination. The miracle caused many people to believe in Jesus. Consequently, the chief priests and leaders of the Sanhedrin were determined to destroy Lazarus as well as Jesus.
During the Sanhedrin’s conference about what to do, Caiaphas defended their plans for Jesus’s death. He declared it was better for one man to die than for the entire nation to perish. He was speaking in political terms. Caiaphas did not comprehend that the Holy Spirit spoke through him to prophesy the meaning behind Jesus’s death. As Messiah, Jesus would indeed die to atone for the sins of the world.
Read John 11:32-46 in you Bible. How does this story serve as a bookend to how Jesus was introduced in John 1 (in Him was life [1:4]; the darkness did not overcome the light [1:5]; His own people did not receive him [1:11]; and we observed His glory [1:14])?
WEPT (JOHN 11:32-37)
32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
VERSES 32-37
As Jesus neared Bethany, Martha came to meet Him, “but Mary sat still in the house” (v. 20). Jewish tradition dictated mourners remain seated for a week after a loved one died. As a show of support, others would console and serve them. After talking to Jesus, Martha spoke with Mary, who then came running to Jesus.
Seeing Jesus, Mary fell down at his feet. When Jesus earlier visited Mary and Martha, Martha busied herself with food preparation; Mary sat at His feet, listening to Jesus teach (Luke 10:38-42). John’s Gospel later records that while Jesus was at a dinner given in His honor, Mary anointed His feet with perfume and wiped them with her hair (12:1-8). Her actions displayed honor, humility, and worship.
Mary echoed what Martha had said: Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died (see v. 21). The word translated weeping suggests wailing or sobbing loudly. Mary was visibly shaken.
How should we respond to people who are hurting? Should our response vary from person to person? Explain.
Jesus responded differently to Mary than He had to Martha. Rather than give facts as He had with Martha (see vv. 25-26), Jesus responded emotionally. He groaned in the spirit. The Greek phrase translated groaned can describe a horse’s snorting. The action expressed displeasure, annoyance, and even anger and indignation. His being troubled indicated an intense reaction.
Scripture does not say why Jesus was angry. He may have been upset at death itself and the way it hurts those who grieve. He may have been angry with those accompanying Mary; standing before the “resurrection and the life,” they were responding like nonbelievers who had no hope (v. 25; 1 Thess. 4:13).
In this scene bathed in intense emotion, Jesus wept. The Greek word used here is different from the loud sobbing Mary had done. Jesus was crying silently. He wasn’t upset about Lazarus dying; He was about to raise Lazarus back to life. Jesus wept because he loved Lazarus. Some have suggested that Jesus wept because He was about to bring Lazarus back into a world of sin, sickness, suffering, sadness, and separation; thus His heart was broken.
BIBLE SKILL: Compare similar events in Scripture.
Compare Jesus’s reaction when He raised two other persons from the dead: Mark 5:21-43; Luke 7:11-17. Why was His response different in the case of Lazarus’s death? Read Luke 19: 41-44. In what ways was Jesus’s lamentation over Jerusalem different from His weeping at the tomb of Lazarus?
Rather than recognize the Lord’s love and compassion in the moment, some began to criticize. Knowing Jesus had recently healed the blind man, they mocked. Could not this man . . . have caused that even this man should not have died? Why didn’t Jesus do something when He could?
Jesus not only comprehends our pain but goes further and does something about it. Sometimes He heals and restores. Even when His purpose does not eliminate the source of pain, He grants grace and strength during suffering. Through it all, His love and presence are constant and dependable.
How does Jesus’s emotional response help us approach Him with our hurts and pains?
BELIEVE (JOHN 11:38-40)
38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
VERSES 38-40
The text refers to the grave of Lazarus as a cave. Some cave tombs had a vertical entrance shaft and others, a horizontal entrance. Inside the tomb were carved shelves or niches on which a body was placed. Poorer families buried multiple bodies in one tomb; a private tomb indicated wealth. A stone was placed at the mouth of the cave. This kept the body from being robbed or scavenged by animals; the sealed tomb also helped contain decomposition odors.
Visitors to Bethany today can visit what is believed to have been Lazarus’s tomb. Stepping over the threshold at street level, one descends twenty-four stone steps before entering a small vestibule. In the vestibule floor are three more stone steps that lead down to an inner chamber that measures about seven-by-eight feet. It contains three burial niches. Jesus was likely standing in the vestibule when He said, “Take ye away the stone” (John 11:39).
For the second time, the account states Lazarus had been dead four days (see v. 17). This occurred because Jesus had waited two days before going to Bethany. First-century Jews believed a person’s soul lingered for three days after death. At the end of the three days, the body would begin decomposition, and the soul would leave. The odor itself would give evidence that Lazarus had not merely swooned but was indeed dead.
How do our past experiences get in the way of demonstrating faith in Jesus?
Jesus assured Martha that she was about to witness the glory of God. This echoed what Jesus had said earlier to His disciples: “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (v. 4). Lazarus’s sickness had led to death, but that was not the final chapter. God’s glory was about to be revealed in a powerful way. This glory would be evident to Martha if she believed, which she earlier stated she did (v. 27).
If we have only the Word of God to carry us through the day, that is enough.
Those standing at the tomb had no idea what Jesus was about to do. Anything they imagined would pale in comparison to what they were about to see. Martha’s faith should have rested solely on Jesus’s word: said I not unto thee . . . . If we have only the Word of God to carry us through the day, that is enough. Martha was acting on the basis of human rationale rather than trusting the word and power of Jesus.
In what ways has God’s Word helped you follow His will even when you didn’t understand it?
RETURNED (JOHN 11:41-46)
41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
VERSES 41-42
Before acting, Jesus prayed twice; only the second prayer is recorded. This audible prayer was an expression of thanksgiving, not a request or petition. Jesus was grateful because He knew the Father had heard His prayer, as He always did. This expression of thanksgiving by Jesus was like the psalmist’s declaration of gratitude to God: “I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me . . .” (Ps. 118:21). The reason Jesus prayed aloud was so those standing with Him at the tomb might believe God had sent Him. The prayer Jesus uttered serves a reminder that we too should express gratitude for answered prayer.
How do we know that God hears us when we pray?
VERSES 43-44
Using a loud voice was not for Lazarus’s benefit; Jesus wanted to make sure no one could misinterpret what He said: Lazarus, come forth. Then in a remarkable display of the Lord’s power over life and death, Lazarus stepped out of the tomb.
John’s description confirms Jewish burial practices of the first century. A Jewish burial typically took place on the day a person died. Prior to placing the body in the tomb, the body was washed (Acts 9:37), anointed (John 12:3-7), and wrapped in strips of linen cloth. The face and head were wrapped in a separate piece of cloth. When Jesus was buried, His body was similarly treated (John 20:5-7).
In His third command, Jesus told them to loose Lazarus’s body so that he could move freely. The first and third commands (vv. 39,44) involved those with Jesus: move the stone and unwrap Lazarus. The second command (v. 43) involved the Lord’s friend and humanity’s final enemy: Lazarus and death (John 11:11; 1 Cor. 15:26).
VERSES 45-46
When Jesus performed miracles or taught, some would believe while others would ridicule, accuse Him of being evil, or even become hostile. We see this most recently after He healed the man born blind (John 9:16) and taught about being the good shepherd (10:19-21). Verses 45-46 highlight that same mixed response.
John reported that many . . . had seen the things which Jesus did and believed on him. But some rushed to tell the Pharisees . . . what things Jesus had done. At best, they wanted the people who had threatened Jesus to know about His power to raise the dead. At worst, these persons were concerned with maintaining favor with their religious leaders. Subsequent verses emphasize the result of their actions as the Pharisees and others increased their efforts to kill not only Jesus, but also Lazarus who was a living testimony to Jesus’s power.
Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior. (See Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 1:17.)
•    Jesus understands the hurts of humanity.
•    Believers demonstrate their faith through obedience.
•    Believers can approach God knowing He hears them.
Rate the prayer life of your Bible study group. How does the prayer of the group demonstrate belief that Jesus is sovereign over all creation? Discuss with your Bible study group what can improve. Take actions to implement steps to address the areas identified as needing improvement.
Take a personal inventory. Are there areas in which you say, “I believe” but are still reluctant to act? Is there something the Lord has been instructing or leading you to do but, for whatever reason, you have not yet taken that step? What can be done to move you towards full obedience?