To love and obey Jesus as Lord and help our neighbours to do this together
Read: John 11:1-6
In this passage, we meet a family from Bethany called Mary, Martha and Lazarus who are mentioned to be dearly loved by Jesus. Mary is the woman who is recorded as having anointed Jesus’ feet with perfumed oil and dried them with her hair. This family obviously have a special relationship with Jesus, and it seems interesting the way the sisters inform Jesus that their brother is sick. “Lord, look the one that you love is sick.” They don’t ask Jesus here to heal Lazarus, which is something Jesus could have done if he had chosen to. Instead of Jesus responding immediately to this message by traveling to Bethany, He decides to delay his journey another 2 days. By this time Lazarus has died.
- Why did Jesus allow those he loved to suffer? When we look at these scriptures we can think that Jesus didn’t really love and care for Mary, Martha and Lazarus, yet we find that he actually loved them greatly and in fact He loved them so much he chose to stay two more days before going to them.
- Unfortunately, some false teachers say that it is God’s will to be healthy and wealthy and if one is not, they suggest that it is due to a lack of faith or because someone has done something wrong. As we read further, into this account of Lazarus, we find Jesus had a purpose for delaying his response and it wasn’t due to this family’s lack of faith. What other biblical stories illustrate this?
- None of us are exempt from pain and suffering. James tells us that we will face trials. Often, when we are going through trials, we ask the question, Why? Why is this happening to me? There is a different question that we can ask ourselves; What can I/we learn through and from this trial? How does God want to use this trial? We may not always know the answer to our questions, but we can think about how we will respond. God promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us. The challenge is to ask ourselves; How can God be glorified?
With Lazarus, Mary and Martha, Jesus loved them and he wanted to display God’s glory. John 11:4 ‘ This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it.
Share a tragic story that was turned around and used to glorify God.
Read: John 11:17-37
- What stood out to you in this passage?
- It is interesting that before resurrecting Lazarus, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, wept.
Reflect on these three thoughts:
- a) When babies are born, doctors, nurses and parents wait anxiously for the first cry, signifying this is a sign of life, the baby is alive as air enters their lungs.
- b) When people cry after a painful situation, some have said tears are the first step towards healing.
- The word “care” comes from the gothic word “kara” and “kara” means “to cry out with”.
- How do you feel and think about crying being a sign of life, first step of healing and a way to care?
- What words/emotions/thoughts come to mind after his friend Lazarus died? We hear our Lord weeping?
- Share a story of a time when you sat with your neighbour(s) in a painful situation and wept.
- What can we learn from these stories about weeping with neighbours? And what ways can our neighbours encounter a powerful God who weeps for mankind?
- Pray for your neighbours who are in painful situations and if appropriate consider the challenge to sit and weep with or for them during prayer.
- Communion – Tony Campolo has a saying ‘It’s Friday, but Sunday is coming.’ Jesus; life, resurrection, new life is coming, let communion remind you of this in the midst of everyday pain.
- Take a minute to ‘present’ yourselves.
- Read John 11:38-44
- Share any immediate thoughts or observations about the passage
- Who ‘freed’ Lazarus?
Our passage definitely climaxes with what Jesus can only do – give life to the dead. But sandwiching this before and after are two communal responsibilities – the removal of the stone and the unwrapping of Lazarus. In both, Jesus asks family and those nearby to act and participate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer teaching refered to the ‘Ultimate’ and ‘Penultimates’. Ultimate being the personal salvation/forgiveness of sin/atonement of an individual – the domain and work of God alone. Penultimates are all that is humanly possible to be done to build and lead to the Ultimate AND all the happenings from this Ultimate – the participatory responsibility and domain of humans.
- a) Any thoughts on the above?
- b) Think of a neighbour and their life/ freedom journey. Where are they in relation to God/ Ultimate? What are some ‘Penultimate’ challenges in their lives?
- Pray for your neighbours
- Take one minute to centre yourselves and focus
- Now read John 11:45-57 BUT IMMERSE YOURSELF into the story. If you were a fly on the wall in this passage – What would you see, hear, and smell?
- Read John 11:45-57 again BUT THIS TIME put yourself into one of the characters.
Which person were you? Do you have any more observations? What questions would you have/ or do have as that ‘character/ person’?
Historically Israel has many times rebelled against Rome; many ‘Messiah’ figures have come through and were dealt with harshly! Most know the siege of Massad and the Maccabees rebellion. Both led to slaughter and loss of governance for Israel.
It is sad that Jesus’ miraculous giving of life is not seen as a ‘sign of hope’ but rather a ‘sign of loss and destruction to come’, by the Pharisees. A massive misinterpretation of Jesus and their own prophecies; which was an expected role for those that were ‘supposedly’ close to God eg. High Priest
- Share communion and pray