Explore The Bible Study: I Am The Resurrection

6:25 PM

1 Thessalonians 4:13 informs believers that, “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope” While we will grieve at someone’s death, followers of Christ don’t have to “grieve like the rest, who have no hope.” The Explore the Bible Study: I Am the Resurrection reminds us of this truth as we examine John, chapter 11.

We see a group in John 11 who were grieving over the death of a loved one named Lazarus. At this point they were grieving because they had lost hope.  They felt that, if only Jesus had been there, Lazarus could have been healed. But opposition had grown against Jesus in Jerusalem, so He had left the city and traveled to an area east of the Jordan River. It was there that news came that His beloved friend, Lazarus, was sick and close to death in the town of Bethany.  Jesus deliberately delayed going to him, actually waiting until Lazarus was dead. While this sounds like someone who didn’t care, there was a greater lesson this day for those who had seen Jesus perform miracles.

The passages today bring the work of Jesus to a climax and provide clarity to other verses regarding Jesus as the one Who gives life: “Life was in Him” (John 1:4); “The Son also gives life to anyone He wants to” (John 5:21); “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35); “Anyone who follows Me . . . will have the light of life” (John 8:12);  “I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance” (John 10:10); I give them eternal life, and they will never perish – ever! (John 10:28).

It was in this setting that the “if only” statement was expressed to Jesus by a grieving sister, Mary – “If only Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not be dead.” Let’s first examine the response and how it reveals the reality of grief that comes when someone loses a loved one or close friend. This miracle gives us the full understanding of Jesus as the life-giver and the eternal hope we have through Him!

Grief is a reality – John 11:32-37

These family members and friends couldn’t understand Jesus’ delay in coming to heal Lazarus. They felt that, since Lazarus was dead, there was no longer a need for Jesus to do anything. They weren’t ready for the lesson Jesus was going to teach them because of their grief.  While Jesus can heal, there is something much greater than healing; it is what Jesus offers beyond physical healing.

Jesus was troubled over the fact that the sisters—and the Jewish mourners—did not yet fully understand who He was. – They could not get through their grief to see Jesus for who He was. They could only see the loss they had experienced. When people struggle with someone’s death today, they often ask, “Why didn’t God heal him?” or “Why did God let him/her die?” So Jesus responded to the people’s grief as the Son of God and Son of man. The Son of God had every right to be angry with an enemy that had ruined His perfect creation and hurt those He deeply loved. He also had every right to be disturbed that He, the Lord over death, stood right there in the people’s midst, and all they could do was weep and wail hopelessly.

Jesus is deeply concerned that you do not grieve hopelessly, but recognize that His presence, hope, and life are right there with you, and that He has power, even over death!

Consider how you might respond to the ETB Personal Study Guide question on page 122 – “How does Jesus’s emotional response help us approach Him with our hurts and pains?”Not only did they grieve as people without hope, but they also doubted Jesus.

Doubt is natural – John 11:38-40

Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. The tomb would have been a cave with a large, round stone sealing it. To this day there are tombs like this scattered throughout Israel.

We again see the emotion of Jesus. He was deeply moved as He approached the tomb and now Martha, the other sister to Lazarus, approaches him expressing doubt. Martha believed Jesus could have healed Lazarus, but now he was dead. 

“Her reaction, however, contradicted her earlier expression of faith in Jesus as the Son of God (John 11:27). She believed Jesus could ask the Father to intervene in the situation, but when faced with the reality of Lazarus’s tomb, Martha hesitated. Jesus gently reminded her that she would see the glory of God, as long as she believed.” – ETB Leader Guide

How is understanding that Jesus is not only one who heals but one who rules over death, help us deal with doubt when a believer dies or when we are facing death? What should this do regarding putting one’s faith in Christ, even as we face death?

When people believe Jesus is only strong enough to do something in the here and now, it will be difficult for them to understand that Jesus can do anything regarding the hereafter. This is where faith is required, and trust is given through God’s Word. Jesus reminds Martha, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” God’s Word is oftentimes the only thing that helps us overcome our doubt. It is always constant and will remind us that we can overcome doubt that comes when we do as Martha did and act on human rationale and logic.

In what ways has God’s Word and your personal relationship with Christ helped you overcome doubt?

Martha’s faith was going to be challenged to think of Jesus as one who overcomes death and not just a healer of those who are sick. What happens next is something that no one could understand at the moment. It would require trust. While we may grieve and even doubt, ultimately, we must trust Jesus.

Trust is a Must – John 11:41-46

In what ways do we discount or underestimate our Savior’s power because 2,000 years separates us from His earthly ministry?

Jesus earlier had told His disciples that Lazarus’ sickness would result in their seeing God’s glory. Indeed, the delay in Jesus coming to Bethany was for the purpose that the Son of God would be glorified through the raising of Lazarus from the dead (see 11:4). Jesus displayed His power over death and the grave. 

During His ministry, Jesus raised three people from the dead: a little girl (see Mark 5:35-42), an only son (see Luke 7:11-15), and a beloved friend (see John 11:3,44). Like the previous six miracle-signs John featured, this raising of Lazarus from the dead was designed to reveal who Jesus is. He is the resurrection and the life.

Jesus’ miracles were not intended just to alleviate temporary pain but to convince people to trust Him for hope, joy, and eternal life.  We can be certain Jesus loves us and works for our good and God’s glory even in death. We can deal confidently with death by having a relationship with Him.

Just like today, when God demonstrates His power to save, there will be those who respond by believing in Jesus and there will those who will become more cynical . . . until their death. Then someone might say, “they are in a better place,” indicating that their doubt about eternity was never resolved. Trust is a must!

Living Your Life In Light Of Jesus' Resurrection

As we conclude a study of this passage, let’s consider the life of Lazarus after his resurrection. We know that Lazarus was raised from the dead only to die physically again one day. 

How would you finish Lazarus’ story after his resurrection? How would he have lived? What would have been his legacy of faith? How do you suppose he faced death when it was his time to die again?

Imagine Lazarus living a life of faith because of the new life he was given through Christ. Imagine how he faced his death the second time. What a powerful message of hope and faith he might have portrayed to a lost world who had no hope without Christ.  What a powerful message this communicates to believers today. Jesus, through Lazarus, gives us the complete gospel message.

  1. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1 tells us that you were “dead in your trespasses and sins.” We were just like Lazarus spiritually. We were dead and in the tomb, destined for decay. But now . . .
  2. Jesus gives us new life as described in Ephesian 2:4-5: “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us,  made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses.
  3. We are expected to do something with our new life in Christ as Paul reminds us in Colossians 3:1-5 – “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Therefore, put to death what belongs to your earthly nature . . .

Before Billy Graham died he expressed his trust in Christ for the here and now and the hereafter in a Newsweek article, August 14, 2006: “I do not fear death. I may fear a little bit about the process, but not death itself, because I think the moment that my spirit leaves this body, I will be in the presence of the Lord.”

Can you be as confident as Billy Graham?

How can you express your confidence about life and death with people who are desperate for hope?

Make a list of people you know who are grieving, but are struggling with trusting Christ, and begin praying for them.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version

Download Word Version

LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Latest From Twitter