Jesus is dwelling in Betharba, away from the people who are seeking to kill Him. He is about to enter the last week of His earthly life and ministry.
This chapter refers to the miraculous event of raising Lazarus from tended. Jesus knows the circumstances, but even more importantly He knows the will of His Father. This is about God’s plan of redemption far more than about the miracle itself (read what the apostle Paul says in Acts 26:8). Jesus knows the suffering that lies ahead, but He is determined to finish His course.
There is no clear dating of this event in John 11 (probably a good thing since we might be tempted to make it a holiday). For a time Jesus goes to Ephraim with the disciples, but the time frame is not mentioned. However, for John’s purpose of writing the time frame is not necessary.
John 11, 12 form one longer section, both containing a great deal about “believing”. There two chapters bring to a close the first section of John. Chapter 13 begins the final days of Jesus, especially the last supper and crucifixion.
II. Key words, phrases, concepts
Believe: This is an especially important word and concept to John. This word basically means “to be persuaded, to commit, to intrust”. In the New Testament, it is used 241 times. In the writings of John, it is used nearly half of those times, or 108. The Gospel of John uses it about 100 times. Again, this is in keeping with the purpose of his writing, as stated in John 20:31.
III. John 11:1-44
1. Glorifying the Son of God
a. The Father’s purpose
b. Read Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9
2. Circumstances designed by God
a. 1 Peter 1:3-9; 4:12-19
b. Jesus waits according to His Father’s plan, does not act on His own. This has been seen in earlier studies, that Jesus did not come to do His own will.
Are we willing to study to discover God’s will? Are we willing to wait if necessary? Do we truly want to know and do His will, or do we rather want Him to conform to our plans?
3. Disciples are learning a valuable lesson
a. Obeying God is THE standard;
b. Stumbling is from ignoring God’s Word, making up our own standard, not following His clearly defined purpose and Word.
So often we have fallen into the trap of making God’s Word say what we with it to say, and making some kind of “personal application” the standard for the truth. This is a grave error, and is from Satan himself. This is exactly what Satan did to Adam and Eve in the Garden, changing God’s Word from what God meant it to be. This is why studying in context is so important.
B. Mary and Martha
1. Both question Jesus
2. How are their attitudes different? Read Luke 10:38-42.
What does this reveal about how our own attitudes affect our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ?
C. Jesus Christ: The Resurrection and the Life
Here is the purpose of this event, the plan of God to glorify Himself and the Lord jesus Christ. This is not meant to glorify Lazarus or the miracle of raising him from the dead!
1. God answers Jesus – Martha knows this, trusts in the truth, but misunderstands.
2. Live again – a resurrection for the true believer.
a. Read John 5:19-29
b. Jesus’ resurrection secures our own.
Knowing that there is a resurrection for the true believer, how might this affect our daily living and our fear of death?
3. “I AM the Resurrection and the Life”
a. One of the 10 (or ore) “I AM” statements in John. This is intentional by John, to include the statements of Jesus referring to Himself as “I AM”, which is the name for God in Exodus 3:14. Again, this is why the religious leaders hated Jesus so.
b. Not only eternalize later, but here and now.
Notice how Martha gives her clear testimony of being a true believer in verse 27, as an answer to Jesus from verses 23-26.
4. “Jesus wept” – Why?
a. Because of the people’s sorrow? – possibly
b. Because Lazarus died – no, because He knew that He was going to bring Lazarus back to life.
c. Because so many acted hope;less – most likely, their unbelief brought a lack of real hop – see verse 40.
5. Jesus does His Father’s Will
a. He does not act alone.
b. The prayer of Jesus is to teach the people something. Jesus died not need to pray out loud, but He did it for the sake of the people listening.
God has already promised to accomplish His will, He is fully committed to Himself. He does not need us to convince Him with our words or “sincerity”. It does not matter how many people are asking Him for the same thing. true praying shows an understanding of His will – read 1 John 3:22; 5:13-15.
How should this affect the way we pray? Alone? In church?
Whose will are we seeking to accomplish (most of the time) with our prayers?
IV. John 11:45-57
A. Plot of the Pharisees
1. Believe in Jesus
a. Afraid all will believe
b. Caiaphas has his own plan – is God surprised or concerned by this?
2. Plans created to kill Jesus
3. No one can stop people from coming to Jesus, believing in Him.
B. Jesus retreats to Ephraim
1. Time getting close, but not yet
2. People look for Him to be in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration
What does it seem like the leaders really fear losing?
V. Truths Presented
A. Believing in the Lord Jesus to eternal life is the only plan of God
1. Miracles are for glorifying Jesus
2. Believers need to be transformed
B. The Resurrection and the Life
1. Future for every true believer
2. Presently the true believer can live a resurrection life
1. God’s will, not ours
2. Obedience is the standard, rewards are the result.
D. Government cannot stop the Gospel
1. Influence can be a powerful temptation
2. Only believers can stop the Gospel, by disobedience.
Read the book, “The Crucified Life” by A.W. Tozer