John 11:1-24 Bible Study
Who were Mary, Martha and Lazarus?
They were siblings of one another and quite close to Jesus: "Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." (John 11:5)
Where did they live?
In Bethany, a village "near Jerusalem, about two miles away."(John 11:18)
Where was Jesus when He received Mary and Martha's
Most likely in Bethabara on the other side of the Jordan river, where He had gone at the end of John chapter 10 when the Jews tried to kill Him.
What was He doing there?
No doubt continuing to teach and to heal, but also waiting for the Passover feast at which He would die, which wasn't far away now.
What was the disciples' reaction when Jesus said to them,
“Let us go to Judea again” (John 11:7)?
They warned against it: “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:8), and Thomas even expressed that doing so would be a suicide mission: “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.” (John 11:16)
What did the sisters' message to Jesus say?
“Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” (John 11:3)
Why be so cryptic instead of precisely
saying, "Lord, Lazarus is sick"?
If Jesus' disciples were aware of and feared the Jews' plot against Jesus while two days' journey away from Jerusalem, Mary and Martha, who lived only "two miles" (John 11:18) from Jerusalem, may have been aware of and feared it as well. If so, Mary and Martha may have felt that a precise message ran a higher risk of leaking Jesus' destination to the Jews, who could arrest Jesus en route.
Why did Jesus wait instead of departing for Bethany right away?
"That I may wake him up" (John 11:11) - i.e., raise him from the dead - so "that you may believe." (John 11:15)
Isn't it sadistic to wait so that He can raise a dead
man instead of healing him before he dies?
How long had Lazarus been dead when Jesus arrived?
"He had already been in the tomb four days." (John 11:17)
How many days did Jesus wait before leaving for Bethany?
"Two" (John 11:6).
What does this mean?
Had Jesus left for Bethany right away, He would have arrived to find Lazarus already dead for two days; chances are, Lazarus was dying or already dead by the time Jesus received his sisters' message.
But still, why did Jesus delay for two days?
So that there would be no doubt that Lazarus was indeed dead when Jesus resurrects him. Back then, any part of a day was counted as a day, so "two days" could have meant the morning after his death, and people could have said he was never dead. “Four days” meant at least 3 nights, during which decomposition already would have started, so there would be no doubt that Jesus raised someone who had died.
Is it true that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would
not have died?
Probably but not necessarily. Jesus has the power to heal anyone and did heal multitudes of sick people. But whether to use that power to heal a particular person still remains His prerogative.
How is that different today?
Does Martha recognize Jesus' deity?
Not yet. At this point, she sees Him as just a "Teacher" (John 11:28 below) close to God: "I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you." (John 11:22)
When will her brother "rise again"?
Let's read on.