Read John 11:1-44
Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory, so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” John 11:4.
This is the seventh miracle in John’s Gospel and clearly the most outstanding. Jesus is preparing the disciples for what is coming, teaching them everything they will need to know to enable them to pass on the amazing truths of the Kingdom of God after He has gone.
The threat of death does not deter Jesus from obeying His Father’s instructions, blessing His close friends Mary and Martha, and showing everyone the amazing power of the Living God.
As their brother became really sick, Mary and Martha turned to Jesus for help. Having seen previous miracles, they thought He would be the one to help them in their hour of need. Jesus really loved this family and had spent some time staying with them, but now He decided not to go to them as soon as they called Him, but to wait another two days. He declared in advance what He expected would be the outcome of this tragedy.
This whole situation looks very different when seen through each of the main characters’ eyes.
Jesus. He knew Lazarus well. They had spent many happy hours together and Lazarus probably knew that Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus must have recognised that the devil was again stealing a co-worker in the Kingdom of God, as he stole John the Baptist, yet Jesus did not respond to the problem out of emotion, but from knowing the will of the Father. Although everything in His human nature would have wanted to go to Mary and Martha to comfort them, Jesus knew that He had to obey the Father, who knew what He wanted to do in order to demonstrate Jesus as His Son in the most spectacular way so far, John 11:4. The Jews believed that the spirit left a body on the third day after death. Jesus knew that God’s timing was paramount.
When the time was right to go to Bethany, the disciples reminded Jesus of the dangers to His life, but He just reminded them that He was walking in the light, (or the knowledge of God’s will) so He would not stumble. As Jesus approached Mary and Martha’s house, Martha came out to meet Him and He reassured her that everything would be all right, so she called Mary who came immediately to worship at His feet. Jesus was truly touched at this time.
“… let us never stop trusting Him. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses since He had the same temptations we do, though He never once gave way to them and sinned. So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive His mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16.
Jesus had the compassion of the Father, as well as sadness at their unbelief, added to concern for Lazarus coming back from heaven which He had left. Jesus should have been an emotional wreck, but He was still in control of the situation. (Compare Isaiah 53:3.) Jesus prayed first. He always looked firstly to His Father before looking to people. He thanked His Father, by faith, for the miracle that was about to take place, then He used His voice to call Lazarus out of the tomb. This man came out bound and the people had to release him from the burial clothes. Even in amazing miracles, Jesus sometimes uses ordinary people for some of the action. From this time forward, Jesus’ days were numbered (John 11:54) but still totally under the control of the Father.
Remember: nobody could take Jesus’ life, He freely gave it up for us.
Mary. She had spent many long hours at Jesus’ feet. (See Luke 10:38-42.) She had taken to heart His teachings, had faith in His words and had sacrificed her most treasured possession (when pouring perfume over His body). (See Matthew 26:6-13.) She certainly had her priorities right but this was a trial of her faith. She did not run straight out to Jesus when He came, but had to be urged by her older sister. When she did speak to Him, she must have been confused about divine love and, although she made the same comment as Martha, she did not add the confession of faith that Martha did (“I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God.” John 11:27).
Martha. She rushed out of the house, which would not have been considered good behaviour at that time, but showed her impulsive, honest way of dealing with a problem. She must have been so thrilled that Jesus had come and, although she did not think that He would change anything, she now knew who He was, so she expected an explanation and comfort for them both. She had thought that He had not responded to their cry for help at their time of greatest need, but Jesus arrived at just the right moment and came in with a blessing for them, far beyond their wildest dreams. When Lazarus came out of the tomb, Martha was probably there to fuss over him, get him a drink and mother him, but Mary would have been still crying and worshipping at the feet of Jesus – this time from joy and thankfulness.
Lazarus. When Jesus called this man out of the tomb, we do not know for sure what he had seen. When he came out he was still bound and needed help to get rid of the grave clothes that enveloped him. As He saw Jesus for who He really was and as he heard all that the people had to tell him, he would have certainly known that “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed”. John 8:36.
As Jesus is the same today as He was then, we need to expect and be looking for these miracles to happen in our midst. Apply the following plan to your problem and see a miracle.
ABC of Miracles
“A” Agree with the Word of God.
“B” Believe the Word of God.
“C” Confess the Word of God.
“A” Faith is not a formula. It is a command. Without it, we cannot please God, Hebrews 11:6; Romans 14:23. Do not worry about having faith, as everyone has been given a measure of faith. That is how we come to believe that Jesus is the Son of God in the first place. (See Ephesians 2:8-9.) So, just believe what the Bible says about your situation. (That is what is meant by “walking by faith”.) Then, however you feel does not make any difference, as God has said how things will be. As you agree with that, rather than with your feelings, you will see everything come into line with what God has said. Like Jesus, you will come to the place of giving thanks in the situation before you see the outcome and you will keep exercising your “faith muscles”.
“B” This just means behaving as if the Word of God is true. Imagine Jesus standing in front of us in person and telling us how our situation is going to work out. Having completed step “A“, now is the time to praise God for who He is; how great and powerful He is; how honest and faithful He is. He has not let us down and He will come and work a miracle for us at the right time. Plan as if your prayers had been answered and start to see yourself in the place you have imagined in your prayers. Participate in doing things you couldn’t do before. If yours is a financial problem, take part in the offering. Even if it is just a penny, give something. If it is a physical need and you cannot do much, start doing a little bit of what you think you cannot do. We are not hearers of the Word only but doers!
“C” This means acknowledging a fact as truth and speaking it out. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” Proverbs 18:21. Having found out what God says about our situation and agreeing that what He says is truth, then believing that it will happen just as He has said (Mark 11:23) and rejoicing in Him, we now need to speak out the answer and stop worrying about the problem.
Learn to feed your faith and starve your doubts. Starve your unbelief by focusing ALL your attention on God and His Word.
Home challenges for Power Up! – No.18: Need a miracle?
1. Repeat the memory verse, John 11:4.
2. Read the notes, “Need a miracle?” Which person do you find most easy to understand?
3. a) Can you accept that Jesus delayed going to Bethany out of love? In which situation in your life do you wish that Jesus had turned up sooner?
b) Does this story encourage you to hold on and see God’s Word fulfilled?
4. Learn the “ABC of Miracles” so that you can apply it to any situation in your life and expect to see miracles every time.
Read John 12:1-11
5. Why do you think that Mary chose to pour perfume on Jesus’ feet at this time?
6. Who objected to this and what were his motives? John 12:4
7. How do you think that Jesus felt, knowing that He was now on His way to the Cross?
8. a) What were the motives of the large crowd? (John 12:9)
b) What were the chief priests’ plans for Lazarus?
Read John 12:12-36
9. How is the crowd treating Jesus at this time? John 12:13-14
10. Who is beginning to panic? John 12:19
11. What example does Jesus give in order to show what is going to happen to Him? John 12:24-25
12. If Jesus had to die, how do you think these verses (John 12:12-36) apply to your life? Give an example from your own life.
13. a) How does Jesus feel at this time?
b) What is the temptation and of what does He remind Himself? John 12:27
14. a) What does Jesus ask the Father to do? What does God do?
b) Can you remember a previous time when God did this? Write it down here.
15. Read John 12:31.
a) Who is “the prince of this world”?
b) What does Jesus say is about to happen that is going to “drive him out”? (John 12:32)
c) Is there a situation in your life now where he must be driven out? Keep him under your feet.
16. What is the crowd’s question?
17. Give Jesus’ answer, in your own words from John 12:35-36.
18. a) Memorise “Whoever serves Me must follow Me; and where I am, My servant also will be, My Father will honour the one who serves Me.” John 12:26
b) Try and sum up what you have learnt in one short sentence.