Call to worship: Romans 5:12-17
Text: John 11:1-27
Situated at the center of the Gospel and, thus, central to true faith in Christ, John gives an account of Jesus' claim to be the Resurrection and the Life. We're told of an ill man named Lazarus, brother to Martha and Mary. They are a model family of love and faith to Jesus. And Jesus loves them; but what if His love to us and His actions toward us don't seem to match? Are hard things an indictment of God's love for us? Or are they part of Him loving us divinely? The most loving thing God can do for sinners is reveal Himself. This text reminds us that He does that supremely in His Son, Jesus Christ. Though the path is riddled with opposition, Jesus, driven by His love for us, will risk all danger to glorify God and enhance our faith in Him. To that end, He goes to Bethany, instructing His disciples along the way. He's greeted by Martha, who gives an incredible expression of her great faith in Him---which Jesus intends to expand still more. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Lazarus has died and been buried, but Jesus will raise him up. Before He does this, He asks Martha, 'Do you believe this?' As a true believer, her faith expands to do so. It will be challenged in application, but her heart really does trust Jesus for Who He is. How would we be changed, our 'walk' altered, in truly believing Jesus to be the Resurrection and the Life? Do 'we' believe 'this'?
- True faith and the purposing love of Jesus. (11:1-6)
- True faith and the steadying hand of Jesus. (11:7-16)
- True faith and the consoling word of Jesus. (11:17-27)
- Read John 11:1-27. Read it deliberately. What seems the big picture message?
- In John 11:1-6, who is Lazarus? What's the problem in the text? Why might John link him to the spirituality of Mary and Martha? Are people even of great faith exempt from bitter providence? Are hard circumstances always indicative of God's displeasure? Why or why not according to these first verses? What does Jesus mean that the illness doesn't lead to death? Is there a purpose in our pain? If so, what (per the passage)? Why might John find it necessary to reemphasize Jesus' love for this family?
- What does the love of Jesus for them most immediately look like? Do His initial actions seem loving to you? If we have the ability to stop something ill but don't, can that be loving? Is it possible that divine love and our notions of love (how He should love us) are not exactly the same? What is the most loving thing God can do for us?
- In 11:7-16, why does He then want to depart to Judea? What do His disciples think of it? Why might they be hesitant? How does Jesus answer their hesitancy? What seems to be the message in 11:9-10? How is it that Jesus can speak of death the way He does? What comfort should that give His people? Is their optimism from His words rightly placed? How is it that Jesus can rejoice in the midst of His beloved friend's death? What do you make of Thomas' ambition? What's good in it? What's, well, doubtful?
- In 11:17-27, how long is Lazarus said to have been in the tomb? What do you make of the Jews' consolations? How do we get a glimpse of Martha's faith in Jesus? What's exemplary in it? How does Jesus respond to it? Why should it be so earth-shattering to hear that the resurrection is not just an event, but a Person; an event, that any event, depends upon this one and only Person? What does His being the resurrection and the life imply about Him? How does it assume His saving work? Think on Romans 5:12-17. What are the two assertions in this revelation of Christ? He asks Martha whether she believes this? What is her answer? What would you answer be? How ought this to expand our faith in confession---and in practice?