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Bible Study – John Chapter 11 Verses 11-22


Just finishes His discussion with the religious leaders of His deity.  He hears about one of His friends by the name of Lazarus had become sick. Lazarus was the brother of Martha and Mary who lived in the town of Bethany.  Jesus hears about Lazarus’s sickness, but He tarried in order that others, as well as His own disciples, believe that He is who He says He is.  Although hearing about Lazarus’s illness, Jesus stayed two more days where He was. On the first day, the messenger travels from Bethany east across the Jordan to find Jesus. The next two days Jesus lingers His going to Judea. On the fourth day, Jesus travels west across the Jordan to Bethany.  The Bible does not mention whether or not the disciples heard the messenger announce Lazarus’s illness, but Jesus announces His death as they prepare to go to Bethany.

John 11:11 – These things said he: and after he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.  After Jesus finished giving the parable of the life of a good man who relies on the Word of God as his rule, He tells them Lazarus is asleep but He was going to awake Him from his sleep.  He first announces Lazarus as a friend; those whom Jesus is pleased to own as His friend are His disciples. Jesus does not announce Lazarus’s death as death but sickness, death itself does not break the bond of friendship between Jesus and a believer.  He calls the death of a believer sleep or sleepeth.  Notice, whenever Jesus tells His people at any time how bad the case is He lets them know in the same breath how easily and how quickly He can mend it.  Jesus telling them about the death of Lazarus could also have lessened the disciples fear of returning to Judea since they had friends there that would need their presence and comfort.

John 11:12 – Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.  The disciples didn’t know Jesus was speaking of Lazarus’s death.  They heard he slept and they concluded the worst had passed, now it was needless for them to return to Judea where they feared for Jesus’ and their well-being.

John 11:13 – Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.  Frequently death is called a sleep in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament but they weren’t thinking of that kind of sleep, but a sleep that would rest his body and give him a refreshing.  They probably never thought his sickness would also bring his death.

John 11:14 – Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.  The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, so He made it plain to them that Lazarus was dead.  If Jesus had been with Lazarus during the final moments of his sickness, He might have healed him rather than let him die, but Lazarus died so that Jesus’ power over death could be shown to His disciples and others.  Jesus’ delay was not for the purposes of showmanship or to impress people.  It was an essential display of His power and a major belief of Christian faith.  Jesus’ disciples walked with Him, they saw His miraculous powers on others, but He disciples didn’t know if He could raise the dead although He had died and was raised.  Jesus has and always work in the impossible.

John 11:15 – And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there to the intent ye may believe nevertheless let us go unto him. We can’t even imagine what Jesus felt knowing His disciple’s faith had not risen.  Jesus was not glad that Lazarus was dead, He was glad for the opportunity the disciples would soon see an amazing miracle.  The disciples had already believed but each trial offered an opportunity for their faith to grow.  Just like the disciples, the Lord doesn’t get pleasure or happy when we go through difficult times, but it’s our learning experience that places our faith in Him.   Our faith grows through the different experiences we go through.

John 11:16 – Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.  The disciples knew the danger of going with Jesus to Jerusalem, and they tried to talk Him out of it.  Thomas merely expressed what all of them felt “Let us go, that we may die with him”.  Jesus wants us to follow His leading, He doesn’t want us to die physically per say, but He wants the sin within us to die. We can’t be disciples or believers of the risen Christ and continue to live a sinful lifestyle.  When we come in contact with Jesus, He changes our attributes and appetite for the things of the world.

John 11:17 – Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.  When He arrived, He found His friend Lazarus in the grave; he been four days buried.

John 11:18 – Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.  Bethany wasn’t far from Jerusalem, the miracle was in effect in Jerusalem where they had buried him.

John 11:19 – And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother.  When He arrived He found His friends in grief.  Ordinarily, where death is there are mourners; here was Martha’s house, a house where the fear of God was, and where His blessings rested.  Grace will keep sorry from the heart from a loved one that has experienced the loss of a loved one.  It’s our Christian duty to those that are in sorrow to mourn with them and to comfort them.  The Jews comforted Mary and Martha by reminding them of the good name he had left behind but of the happy state, he was gone too.  This visit which the Jews made to Martha and Mary is an evidence that they were persons of distinction.  There was also a providence in it, that so many Jews should come together just at this time that they might be an unexceptionable witness of the miracle that was to be performed by the man that claimed Himself to be the Christ, the Son of God.

John 11:20 – Then Martha as soon as he heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.   It seems that Martha was earnestly expecting Jesus’ arrival, but Mary sat in the house, although she had heard that Jesus was coming.  She could have been so overcome by the death of Lazarus that she couldn’t move.  The characteristics of the two sisters differ; Martha’s natural temper was active and busy whereas Mary was contemplative and reserved but both loved the Lord but was different in their reactions.  That is why we should never judge a person by how they worship the Lord.  One may run and jump at church whereas another believer may not move, but in their hearts, they are worshiping the Lord.

John 11:21 – Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  This is an evidence of faith of the words she speaks to Jesus “If He had been there her brother wouldn’t have died”.  She believed in Jesus’ power in that He could have prevented her brother from dying.  She had faith, but it was a distance faith, if He had been there He could have prevented death as though He couldn’t have healed or prevented the death from wherever He was. As Christians, we must always keep in mind that God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. When we ask in the name of Jesus, He will hear the prayer.

John 11:22 – But I know that even now, whatsoever thou will ask of God, God will give it thee. She believed if He prayed there where they were, God would hear the prayer and would answer it rather than when they sent the messenger to Jesus to inform Him of Lazarus sickness to ask Him to pray to the Father where He was and the Father would give Jesus what He asked for.  God is not a God of distance but in everywhere place at all times.  There is nothing hidden from His eyes, nothing to hard for Him to perform. Faith must always be “right now”, not at a certain time or a certain place.

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