John 11 Bible Study
Who were Mary, Martha and Lazarus?
They were siblings of one another who were quite close friends of 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?
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 amount to 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 the disciples were aware of and feared the Jews' plot against Jesus from 2 days' journey away, Mary and Martha, who lived only 2 miles from Jerusalem, may have been aware and feared it as well. In that case, they may have felt that a precise message runs 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 a bit sadistic for Jesus to have waited so that He could raise a dead
man instead of healing him before he died?
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 He left right away, He would have arrived to find Lazarus already dead for 2 days. Chances are, Lazarus was dying or already dead by the time Jesus received his sisters' message.
But still, why did Jesus delay for 2 days?
So that there would be no doubt that Lazarus was indeed dead when Jesus raises him. Given the way the days were counted back then, "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 would already have started, so there would be no doubt that Jesus raised someone who had died.
Which is the easiest verse in the Bible to memorize?
The shortest verse: "Jesus wept." (John 11:35).
What does that mean?
The translated Greek verb is dakruo, which means “to tear up in the eye” or “to shed tears”. By contrast, the Greek verb translated, "weeping" in John 11:33 for the others is klaio, which means “to wail”. So Jesus was shedding tears while the people around Him were wailing.
Are "the Jews" correct in their perception that Jesus was sad for Lazarus?
Let's think about this one. Jesus had come to raise Lazarus from the dead. Does it make any sense for Him to first mourn him, and then raise him? Imagine you're a doctor with Doctors Without Borders and you arrive at a refugee camp to find people wailing over someone whom they think is dead. You check for vital signs and know that you can resuscitate him. Would you start by weeping over the death of the person you're about to resuscitate? That doesn't make much sense.
Then was Jesus sad for Mary, Martha and the other mourners?
Same here. Why would He shed tears for people who were about to be dancing in the streets with joy?
Then what made Jesus sad?
Let's look at some of the details in the passage above.
Did Martha believe that Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead?
When Jesus said, “Take away the stone” (John 11:39), Martha actually protested, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” And that protest indicates she actually did not believe Jesus could raise her brother
But didn't she say earlier that she did believe?
Yes, but what exactly did she believe about Jesus? When He told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26), He was asking her if she believed in something specific about Him - His power over death. Her general response - “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (John 11:27) - doesn't really answer His question, while her protest in John 11:39 does. But the best source of what saddened Jesus is His own words, which He indicated were said "that they may believe" (John 11:42), which means that they didn't believe, at least not to the extent that Jesus desired.
So why did Jesus shed tears?
It was because Jesus was spiritually saddened - "groaned in the spirit" (John 11:33) - by the unbelief of "friends" whom He "loved". There He was, weeks from the cross, and His even His close friends didn't fully believe in Him or His power.
Is such unbelief something that would really drive God to tears?
Throughout Jesus' ministry, the one thing that He preached and demanded above all else is that people believe in Him - who He is, what He can do, has done and will do, and why. The lack of such faith in Him by those whom He loved was a source of profound sadness for Jesus back then.
Is it any different today?
No, and given the number of cults, sects and wayward churches today, when someone professes to "believe" in Jesus, it's prudent to ask them to explain what it is that they believe about Jesus to see if it matches what the Bible says about Him.
Is it possible that Lazarus hadn't really died but just
passed out, regained consciousness after the tomb door was closed, and had
been waiting for it to be reopened?
If that were the case, he already would have unbound the graveclothes from his hands and feet and would have walked out the moment the grave was reopened, not waited until Jesus called to him and then hopped out on "bound" (John 11:43) feet.
And when he did that, how must the crowd have reacted?
Most likely awestruck and left speechless.
Is any of their reaction reflected in the passage?
It isn't even mentioned. This account is very matter of fact and without fanfare or embellishment, just like the rest of the Bible.
What’s the logical answer to the question, "What
shall we do? For this Man works many signs" (John 11:47)?
Listen to what He says.
Do miracles guaranty belief?
Is what the chief priests and the Pharisees say in John 11:48 true?
No, the Roman had already come and taken away their nation.
Then what was their real concern?
Losing their "place" (John 11:48) atop the Jewish social, economic and religious hierarchy.
What blocked them and what blocks many people today from accepting Jesus for
who He is?
Three "P"s: their Positions, Possessions and Passions.
Does God issue prophecies only through Godly people?
He uses whoever He wants to use, including those who oppose Him, even without their knowledge, as in John 11:49-57.
Did Jesus die just for the Jewish nation?
"Not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad." (John 11:52)
John 11:53 says, "from that day on, they plotted to
put Him to death", but hadn't they tried to kill Jesus already?
Some of them had, but this was now the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of Israel - "the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council" (John 11:47) - deciding as a body to commit murder.
So what purposes, besides the obvious, did raising Lazarus
as Jesus did achieve?
1. Converted some of the people who witnessed it (John 11:42).
2. Proved Jesus’ power over death (John 11:26).
3. Provoked the Sanhedrin to plot His death (John 11:53).
Why did Jesus then avoid them and go to Ephraim?
The timing still had to be worked out.