Morning Bible Study
We have now entered the last two weeks of Jesus life on earth.
Last week we studied how Jesus had gotten the news that his good friend
Lazarus had become ill, and in fact had already died.
We found it interesting that Jesus didn’t come immediately after getting
the news, but waited two days before coming to visit His friend in the town of
Resurrection and the Life
:17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four
:17 in the tomb
It is the Jewish
custom to bury the dead the same day that they die.
We talked last week about the sequence of events.
Jesus had been
out near the Jordan River, a day’s journey from the area of Jerusalem and
Bethany where Lazarus was.
A messenger was
sent to Jesus to tell Him about Lazarus and that would have taken a day for the
messenger to find Jesus.
respond immediately, but took two days to wait (John 11:4).
responded and came to Bethany.
In other words,
it appears that Lazarus may have died the very day that the message was sent to
:18 Now Bethany
was near Jerusalem, about two miles away.
:19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to
comfort them concerning their brother.
:19 to comfort
– paramutheomai (“alongside” + “to
tell a story”) – to speak to, address one, to calm and console
Jewish mourning customs
There were some very specific things that happened among the Jews when a
person died, concerning the process of mourning.
The process of
mourning was a four week process:
As long as the
body was in the house they were forbidden to drink wine or eat meat. No food could be eaten in the presence of the
dead, and no food could be prepared in the house.
At the burial, which took place on the day of death, those in mourning
would stand in a line, and those
coming to comfort them would file past one by one and say, “may you be
comforted from heaven”.
returned from the tomb they had a dinner prepared by friends that consisted of
bread hard boiled eggs, lentils to symbolize how life rolls on to death.
back home, for that first week, the mourners would not leave their house.
first seven days a person was not supposed to anoint his body, put on shoes or
to engage in any kind of study or business, you were not to bathe.
The first day
started three days of weeping.
In that first
week, on the first day, a Jew did not put on his phylacteries, the little boxes
that had scriptures written on them, that they tied to their heads and hands.
On the second
day, the mourner put his phylacteries on.
On the third
day, friends were allowed to stay and come into the house to offer comfort.
not allowed to speak until the mourner first spoke, but to only sit in silence
(like Job’s friends, Job 2:13)
If the mourner
nodded his head, then all the comforters were to leave the house so they wouldn’t
cause any further trouble to the mourner.
In the second
week, the mourners could leave their house, but could not stop and stay
anywhere, only returning quickly home.
The third week
they could go out of the house and visit places, but they did not speak.
The fourth week
the mourning was over, and they were just like every other person.
comfort to those in mourning was considered an act of great piety and mercy.
The Jews who were coming may not have just been coming out of respect for
Lazarus, or the sisters, but because they thought it brought them favor with
God to do so.
Note: Jesus arrives on the fourth day.
The three official
days of weeping are over.
Friends are now
beginning to stick around (since the third day).
:20 Now Martha,
as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was
sitting in the house.
Martha broke the Jewish custom of staying in the house and went to meet
:20 met – hupantao (“upon” + “against”) – to go to meet; in military
reference of a hostile meeting
Is there a hint of animosity
here? Could she be a bit upset at Jesus?
:21 Now Martha
said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
:21 If You had been
I can’t find a way to read these words without feeling just the least bit
of rebuke in them.
Mary says pretty much the same thing in verse 11:32.
It almost makes me wonder if this wasn’t something they had been talking
about over the last couple of days. “Where is Jesus? If He had been here…”
Note: If you pay attention to how Jesus responds to
these two sisters, you will find that God is big enough to handle you being mad at
Him. He understands. But it is important that you not stay mad at
Him, you’re only hurting yourself.
Sometimes we just have a hard time seeing past the difficulties we’ve got
in life. We can’t see how things could
When a young boy was five years old, he lost a foot in a lawn mower
accident. He learned to not let that
hold him back. Play
Shirley” video clip
And that’s just
what a man learned to do by looking past his own limitations. What might happen if we learn to take our
limits off of God? Do we have limits on what
we think God can do?
It seems to me that both Martha and Mary express a bit of sorrow that Jesus
didn’t do what they had hoped He would do.
Their focus was on Jesus keeping Lazarus alive.
In their mind, healing Lazarus was the limit of what Jesus
Sometimes the way we view the solutions to our own problems can be just a
bit short sighted.
We too can get upset when God doesn’t do things the way we
:22 But even now
I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
Martha isn’t just full of anger or frustration at Jesus. There is a hint of faith here as well.
Does she wonder if there is still something that Jesus could do?
I think an important part of this story is found in the one English word
that we heard Martha say, “whatever” …
Today that word is has a bit of a “valley-girl” ring to it. Play “Whatever!” video clip
You can say this word with a bit of sacrcasm (like the little girl is being
taught), or in spiritual terms, this could mean “anything”! Does God have permission to do “whatever” He
wants? Is that your prayer? (The video
also makes me wonder what we’re teaching our kids)
Even though Martha’s mind thinks Jesus has let her down, deep inside her
she knows that there is nothing that Jesus can’t do.
The Perfect Husband
Several men are
in the locker room of a golf club. A
cell phone on a bench rings and a man engages the hands-free speaker function and begins to talk.
Everyone else in the room stops to listen.
it’s me. Are you at the club?’
WOMAN: ‘I am at the shops now and found this beautiful leather coat. It’s only $2,000. Is it OK if I buy it?’
MAN: ‘Sure, go ahead if you like it that much.’
WOMAN: ‘I also stopped by the Lexus dealership and saw the new Models. I saw one I really liked.’
MAN: ‘How much?’
MAN: ‘OK, but for that price I want it with all the options.’
WOMAN: ‘Great! Oh, and one more thing...the house I wanted last year is back on the
market. They’re asking $2,980,000’
MAN: ‘Well, then go ahead and give them an offer of $2,900,000. They will probably take it. If not, we can go the extra 80 thousand if it’s
really a good deal.’
WOMAN: ‘OK. I’ll see you later! I
love you so much!’
MAN: ‘Bye! I
love you, too.’
The man hangs up. The other men in
the locker room are staring at him in astonishment, mouths wide open. He turns
and asks: ‘Anyone know who this phone
For some of us,
the “good stuff” is just too good to be true.
It must be somebody else’ husband talking to you on the phone.
What if Jesus could do “whatever”?
Will you let Him do “whatever” He wants to do? Keep in mind, “whatever” doesn’t always mean
a “Lexus”, though for Mary and Martha it meant raising their brother from the
When Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was in jail awaiting trial before
Caesar. Paul knew that it was possible
that he would be put to death. He wrote
to the Philippians about the importance of their prayers for him:
(Php 1:19–24 NKJV) 19 For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance
through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, 20 according to my
earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all
boldness, as always, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether
by life or by death. 21
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in
the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot
tell. 23 For I am
hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ,
which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for
Paul saw two possible scenarios ahead of him. He might be delivered from death and continue
to live – and he saw that as a good thing because he could continue to serve
the Lord on this earth. But he also saw
death as a good thing, that he would die and be in God’s presence.
“Whatever” is about putting your life into God’s hands.
Letting Him do what He wants.
:23 Jesus said
to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha is going to think that Jesus is talking about the future
resurrection from the dead.
Jesus is talking about Lazarus coming back to life in a few minutes.
:24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection
at the last day.”
resurrection at the last day
Martha has her Old Testament doctrine correct.
Some people have argued that the resurrection from the dead is an invention
of the New Testament. Not so.
The Old Testament teaches that there will be a time when the dead are
Job is most
likely the earliest written book of the Bible:
19:26 NKJV) And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I
shall see God,
David hinted at
resurrection in the Psalms:
(Ps 16:10 NKJV) For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow
Your Holy One to see corruption.
This is a passage that is quoted by the apostles several
times in the book of Acts as they preached on the resurrection.
Daniel had it
(Da 12:2 NKJV) —2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth
shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Martha was saying, “Well at least I know that you will raise Him up in that
:25 Jesus said
to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he
may die, he shall live.
:26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe
:25 I am
– ego eimi – the name of God,
“Yahweh” (Ex. 3:14)
We’ve talked about how these two Greek words remind us of the name of God
“Yahweh”, because these are the two words in the Greek translation of the Old
Testament that describe who Yahweh is, the “I AM” (Ex. 3:14)
We’ve seen the various times that Jesus has claimed to be “I AM”
We’ve seen how Jesus has defined what “I AM” means by linking it to various
“I AM the bread
of life” (John 6:35)
He is the one that satisfies our deepest needs, our deepest hunger.
“I AM the light
of the world” (John 8:12)
He is the one that gives us light, that gives us direction, and that
teaches us what “good” is all about.
“I AM the good
shepherd” (John 10:11)
He is the one who wants to direct, lead, and protect us.
Now He says,
“I AM the
resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)
He is the one who gives us eternal life.
There are the
things that happen when you let Yahweh, the “I AM” into your life.
resurrection and the life
Just as in the other “I AM” statements, if you want life after death, you
just cheap words Jesus is saying. He’s
We will see Jesus’ power to raise the dead demonstrated in Lazarus.
We see it in
Jesus’ own resurrection from the dead.
:25 though he may
As a pastor, I do my share of funerals. This verse
brings MUCH comfort.
When Jesus says He is the “resurrection and life”, He isn’t saying that
you’re never going to experience physical death.
He promises that you will experience life AFTER death.
For those of
you who have lost loved ones who were believers … you WILL see them again.
:27 She said to
Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to
come into the world.”
:27 I believe
– pisteuo – to think to be true, to
be persuaded of, place confidence in
The verb is a “perfect” tense, meaning that she has come to believe it in
the past, and continues to believe it into the present.
:27 the Christ,
the Son of God
These are the things that Jesus has claimed all along.
These are the claims that He has almost been killed over several times.
Do you believe?
The answer is
either “yes” or “no”.
Some people seem to have to go through a great difficulty or tragedy to
realize their need for God.
The truth is, we all need God in our lives.
We all need Jesus.