International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday January 31, 2016
Purpose: To rekindle the hope of resurrection in times of grief
Bible Lesson: John 11:38-44
Background Scripture: John 11:1-44
Key Verse: Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (John 11:43)
John 11:38-44 (CEB)
(38) Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. (39) Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.” (40) Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” (41) So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. (42) I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me.” (43) Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (44) The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
This lesson may create more questions than answers. I will first ask the questions and then I will try and answer some of those questions.
Who were Mary, Martha and Lazarus? Why did Jesus tarry when told of Lazarus’s illness? Why did Jesus ask others to roll the stone away? Was Lazarus resurrected or resuscitated? Was Lazarus the “beloved disciple”? Why did Jesus shout, “Lazarus come forth?”
It is thought by some scholars that Mary, Martha and Lazarus were the children of Simon of Bethany who had a skin disease. If you search closely you will find this family in all four gospels. (see Luke 10:38-41, Matthew 21:17, John 11:2, and Mark 14: 3-11) It was at Simon’s home that Mary anointed Jesus. It also appears to be where Jesus stayed during his final week before the crucifixion.
Jesus answers why he tarried when speaking to the disciples, "It’s for the glory of God so that God’s Son can be glorified through it." (John 11:4)
I have often wondered why Jesus asks others to roll the stone away in front of the cave. Would that have been more spectacular than raising Lazarus? Jesus was not Superman, He was the resurrection and the life.
Was Lazarus resurrected or resuscitated? If Lazarus was dead for four days wouldn’t he already have received his glorified body? At the tomb of Jesus, the grave clothes were still in the grave, Lazarus came out with his intact.
In John 11:3 it says, So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, "Lord, the one whom you love is ill." Most of us have always assumed John was talking about himself when he uses this phrase “Whom Jesus Loved.” Jesus loved all of his disciples but there were some that were closer than others. The love of God, is not the same as our brotherly love or our eros love. God’s love is unique only to God.
Many old time preachers use to say, if Jesus had not used Lazarus’s name, then all of the tombs around would have been opened and a premature resurrection would have taken place.
Jesus demonstrates to all in attendance that he is the one with victory over death, which reminds me of that great old hymn, “Victory in Jesus.”