Lesson Info:

Lesson 11 Spring Quarter
Lesson Text:  John 11:17-27
Golden Text:  John 11:11

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You have heard me say that the foundation of our faith in the Lord is built on Christ — His birth, death, and resurrection.  As we have seen in recent weeks, we are to live by the Word of God and the birth, death, and resurrection is the good news.  So, our lesson today takes a look at believing in this truth.

Believing in Christ

Prior to the scripture within our lesson today, we see where Lazarus had grown gravely ill and died.  Jesus said to the disciples that Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death but for the glory of God (John 11:4).

Frustrations with Jesus

Martha and Mary, the two sisters, serve as our examples to learn from in our lesson today.  Both of the sisters were of faith in Christ.  As we will recall, Mary often sat at the feet of Jesus to learn when He would come to visit them, and Martha would tirelessly work to take care of the guests (Luke 10:38-41).

So, when their brother Lazarus got sick, they sent word to Jesus for Him to come, but Jesus waited two days after He had received word about Lazarus.  Our lesson tells us that when Jesus arrived to Bethany, where the sisters lived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days (v.17)!

When Jesus arrived, Martha raced out to meet him while Mary remained in the house grieving (v.18, 20).   Martha was a bit frustrated with Jesus, though parts of me feel like there would have been a bit of relief in her as well.  She said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died (v.21).”  To me, this statement from her, though she was frustrated, shows that Martha had faith in Jesus.

I honestly believe that Martha’s reaction is a reaction that most of us would have shared had we been in her shoes.  I say that because, many of us grow frustrated and upset with the Lord when it seems it is taking Him long to move on our behalf.  So, let’s take a moment to answer the question:  Why did Jesus delay going to Bethany?

God always has a plan

Again, as Jesus said, Lazarus’ sickness was not unto death but so that He and the Father could be glorified.  Lazarus’ death was part of God’s divine plan.  God’s divine plan – His divine will – is something that many of us have a very hard time dealing with.  Why?  Because the Lord moves in ways that we simply cannot understand (Is. 55:9).

There are times when we pray for something, according to our desires, and the Lord will move, as He has promised, to give us the desires of our heart according to His permissive will (John 14:13).  However, we have to understand that the Lord, while He may permit things according to His will, He has a divine will to which there is no changing.

So, there are times when God does not give us what we ask for because it does not fit according to His divine will.  You see, this often happens because what God has planned for us is far better.  Now, this may mean that we may have some struggles along the way to God’s blessing, but as Paul said, all things work together for good to those that love the Lord (Rom. 8:28).

So, I will say to you plainly:  Lazarus died to show the true power and authority of the Lord.  In scripture, there are a few cases where people were thought to have been raised from the dead.  For example, the widow’s son was thought to be dead and brought back to life by Elijah (1 Kgs. 17:17-24).  Jairus’ daughter was gravely sick and thought to be dying but Jesus made her well (Luke 8:41-42, 49-56).

With Jesus waiting a couple of days and arriving on the fourth day of Lazarus being in the tomb, there would be no questioning whether or not Lazarus was really dead.  People have always loved coming up with conspiracies for things they cannot believe.  With Jesus not being well received by many, there would be those that would have questioned the resurrection of Lazarus had he been raised the day he died.  With Lazarus being in the tomb for four days, it was clear that he was as dead as a doorknob.

The power of God

After listening to Martha’s frustration, Jesus responded to her, “Your brother will rise again (v.23).”  There was no doubt or hesitation in what Jesus had said to Martha.  This was indicative of what we already know:  Jesus had the power to raise the dead; He has authority over all things because He was God in the flesh.  So, what Jesus was trying to do in that moment was comfort Martha.

Martha responded to Jesus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day (v.24).”  Her response was an “of course” response in a manner of saying, ‘yeah, sure, that is going to happen’.  It can be very easy for many of us to believe we will see our loved ones once again in the future, right?.  After all, there are many who are not of faith in the Lord that believes they might see their passed loved ones once again.

I believe that Martha had been hearing that quite a bit from those that had come to comfort her, so, in that moment, she was just frustrated and wanted to vent.  So, to Martha’s brushed off response, Jesus makes it clear that He is not speaking to her as others had spoken to her.  Jesus said, “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 (vss.25-26)?”

So, why do you think Jesus makes the point to say that He is the resurrection and life?  I believe that Jesus wanted Martha to know exactly who it was that she was talking to.  Again, as I just said, Martha had probably been hearing what many of us repeatedly hear when we lose a loved one – ‘it will be OK, you will see them again’.  Hearing that so many times from those who had been visiting her and Mary wasn’t really bringing them comfort; Mary was still broken up inside the house!

For Jesus to say matter-of-factly that He is the resurrection and life, it was to bring assurance.  For Jesus to then speak about the future resurrection matter-of-factly, it was to bring assurance.  Jesus is our assurance, and our resurrection is hope.  So, Jesus was comforting Martha and also giving her hope as well; He was uplifting her spirit.

Faith in the Lord

This is why we see Jesus ask her, “Do you believe this?”  The hope of the believer is Jesus Christ – what He can and will do for us.  Therefore, our hope is in the power and authority of Jesus.  Seriously, if you do not have hope in the power of Jesus, then do you truly believe in Him?  Whatever it is that we are going through – good or bad – we should always have faith in the power and authority of Christ.

Martha answered Jesus, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world (v.27).”  Martha’s answer this time was one of true faith and not one of mechanical religion.  At this point, Martha’s frustration began to reside and I would even suggest that she began to truly accept Lazarus’ death.

If you notice, Martha never asks Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead, but Jesus raised him from the dead anyway (John 11:38-44).  Again, there was a divine reason to Lazarus’ death and we see it through his resurrection.  Scripture shows us that some came from Jerusalem to be with Martha and Mary during their time of grief (v.18).  Some of those that came from Jerusalem and witnessed the resurrection of Lazarus believed in the work that Christ did; they believed in Christ!

However, we are also told that after Lazarus was raised from the dead, others ran to the Pharisees to tell them what Jesus did (John 11:45-46).  The Pharisees, of course, did not believe and they plotted to kill Jesus (John 11:45-53).  What does the Lord have to do in order for some of us to believe in Him?

Many people today love to suggest that if they were there to witness the works of Christ, they would believe.  However, the truth is that there were many who witnessed the miracles that Jesus performed, and they did not believe.  Faith is not about what we can see – that would be too easy.  Again, the foundation of our faith is built on the evidence of God – the death and resurrection of His only begotten Son and the divine truth that He shared with the world.


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