Morning Bible Study
Lazarus had become very sick. Lazarus’
sisters, Martha and Mary, had sent word to Jesus to come quickly. But Jesus didn’t come immediately. Instead He waited two days before setting out
to Bethany where the family lived. By
the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days.
Martha has already spoken to Jesus.
She rebuked Jesus for not coming and seemed to blame Him for Lazarus’
death. When Jesus told her that He was
the resurrection and life, she said she believed in Him.
:28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly
called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”
Jesus intended initially to talk to Mary privately, not in front of the people
that had gathered.
:29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him.
:30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was in the place where
Martha met Him.
:31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when
they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is
going to the tomb to weep there.”
:32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His
feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have
:32 if You had
been here – Mary says almost the exact same words that her sister Martha
did when she had met Jesus back in verse 21.
It is possible that this is something that the sisters had talked about
over the previous couple of days. They
had wondered why Jesus had not showed up.
when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned
in the spirit and was troubled.
We’re going to see several different words for crying in this passage.
– klaio – to mourn, weep, lament; to
weep audibly, cry as a child
– embrimaomai (“in” + “to snort with
anger”) – to snort in anger like a horse; to speak sternly to someone.
The word is only used three other times outside this passage, and each time
it speaks of a “stern warning”, like after the time that Jesus healed two blind
(Mt 9:30 NKJV) … And Jesus sternly warned them, saying, “See that
no one knows it.”
Here Jesus wasn’t giving a stern warning to someone else, His “groaning”
was what was going on inside of Him, in His “spirit”.
– tarasso – to agitate, to cause one
inward commotion, to disquiet
Why was Jesus upset?
Some say it was
because of the unbelief of the people there.
There will be a measure of unbelief in both the sisters as well as the
“comforters”. They are all somewhat
disappointed in Jesus showing up so late.
Some say it was
because of the reality of the destruction of sin.
Ever since Adam and Eve rebelled against God in the garden of Eden, mankind
has been paying the price of sin.
Sin leads to death.
Have you seen what sin can do to people?
Have you seen the destruction, the corruption, the death that results? Been to the hospital lately?
Maybe He was
just sympathizing with the obvious frustration that Martha and Mary felt.
Jesus is very much affected by what happens in our lives.
(Heb 4:15–16 NKJV) —15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us
therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find
grace to help in time of need.
– sumpatheo (“with” + “to suffer”) – to
be affected with the same feeling as another, to sympathize with; to have compassion on
:34 And He
said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”
:35 Jesus wept.
This is the shortest verse in the English Bible.
– dakruo – to weep, shed tears; to
It speaks of tears and quiet weeping in contrast to the loud wailing others
God and emotions
I understand that there are churches that teach that God has no emotions,
and that emotions are human and sinful.
That’s not what the Bible teaches.
God gets angry
(Dt 4:21 NKJV) Furthermore the Lord
was angry with me
for your sakes, and swore that I would not cross over the Jordan…
(Ps 103:8 NKJV) The Lord
is merciful and gracious, Slow
to anger, and abounding in mercy.
(Ps 103:13 NAS) Just as a father has compassion on his children, So
the Lord has compassion on those
who fear Him.
(Jn 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only
begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have
Some of you might say, “But isn’t that agape love, what some might call a
non-emotional love of placing a person in high esteem?”
Yes, but there’s more…
God even “likes”
(Jn 5:20 NKJV) For the Father loves
the Son, and shows Him all things …
Phileo is the
Greek word used here, a word that speaks of an emotional love, a “fondness”, a
word that is sometimes translated “kiss”.
The Father is also “fond” (phileo)
of the disciples:
(Jn 16:27 NKJV) for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me…
God knows joy
(Zep 3:17 KJV) The Lord
thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; He will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; He will rest in his
love, he will joy
over thee with singing.
My point is that emotions are neither good nor bad. It’s what you do with them that counts. It’s learning to allow God to help you with
your emotions that’s important.
Here the issue is that these two sisters have lost a loved one.
I have a hard time thinking that Jesus weeping at the tomb of Lazarus is
for anything other than compassion and grief.
Some of you have also gone through great loss.
He gets it.
He’s lost a
loved one (John 11:35)
Jesus loved Lazarus
hungry (Mat. 4:2)
Fasting for forty days.
betrayed. (John 13:21)
Judas was a close friend.
through divorce. (Jer. 3:8)
God speaks of His broken relationship with Israel in terms
of a divorce.
abandoned (Mark 15:34)
On the cross, crying, “Why have You forsaken Me?”
He knows pain
Scourged. The cross.
Do you think that no one understands you?
:36 Then the
Jews said, “See how He loved him!”
:37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the
blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
They were aware of what Jesus
had done six months earlier, opening the eyes of the man who had been born
blind (John 9).
Just like Martha and Mary, these folks wonder why Jesus hadn’t helped
:38 Then Jesus,
again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay
:39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was
dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead
:39 there is a
stench – ozo – to give out
an odor (either good or bad), to smell, emit a smell; KJV:
(keep in mind, the family that is mourning customarily didn’t bath or wear
perfume for a whole week, they might have been a little stinky too)
:40 Jesus said
to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory
believe… would see
The grammar might be better translated, “Did I not say to you that if you would perhaps
believe, that you WILL see the glory of God?”
John didn’t record Jesus saying these exact words to Martha, but that
doesn’t mean He didn’t say them. The
implication is that He DID say these things to her.
Faith leads to glory
What will you do when things don’t seem to be turning out the way you
expected them to?
What happens when Jesus shows up too late?
How does it make you feel that Jesus heals the man born blind, but your
brother ends up dead?
Will you become bitter? Will you
Or will you still trust God? Faith
leads to glory.
Note the size
of their faith.
and their friends were a bit caught
up in what Jesus didn’t do. Martha was
concerned about the stinking tomb. But
Jesus will still work.
It doesn’t take a huge amount of faith to see God work.
Some people have tried to take this verse and say that it
must have been because of Martha and Mary’s “great faith” that Jesus would
raise Lazarus from the dead.
I don’t see a huge amount of faith.
It only takes a little bit of faith to see God take a tragedy and make it
the prophet who told us that if we want true “life”, it comes through faith,
through putting our trust in God. He
(Hab 2:4 NKJV) “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live
by his faith.
Real life comes when you learn to trust in God. Paul quotes Habakkuk several times to teach
us that salvation, true life, comes when we put our trust in Christ.
What kind of times did Habakkuk live in?
What was life like when he wrote?
He wrote during
the time just before the fall of the nation of Judah to the Babylonians. He wrote during a time of corruption and
evil. He didn’t write during an easy
time, but during a difficult one.
One of Habakkuk’s greatest examples of what faith is like comes at the end
of his book:
(Hab 3:17–19 NKJV) —17 Though the fig tree
may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may
fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the
fold, And there be no herd in the stalls— 18 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my
salvation. 19 The Lord God is my
strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my
Faith isn’t pretending that you don’t have any problems.
Faith is trusting God
when you don’t see the answer to your problems.
It’s this kind of faith that leads us to see the glory of God.
Sometimes the glory of God involves the incredibly
miraculous and Lazarus is raised from the dead.
Sometimes the glory of God is what you have when you hold
on to God while the crops are failing.
:41 Then they
took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus
lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.
:42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are
standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”
Jesus wants the people who are standing there to see what is about to
:43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come forth!”
– kraugazo – to cry out, cry aloud,
to shout, to cry out to one
– megas – great; used of intensity
Augustine: If Jesus had not called Lazarus by
name, all the dead would have come out of their graves. (I like that!)
:44 And he who
had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was
wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”
:44 bound …
Lazarus had been all wrapped up in linen cloth. Perhaps he came hopping out of the tomb. He might
have looked something like “The Mummy”.
:44 Loose him
Lose the graveclothes
God is going to use Lazarus in a big way.
In John 12, just
a few days from now, there will be a dinner for Jesus at Lazarus’ house. The guest of honor is Jesus, but all eyes are on
Lazarus, the man who had been dead and who was now alive.
The next day
would be Palm Sunday. John that tells us
that the reason the crowds were so big and turned out to shout “Hosanna” to
Jesus on Palm Sunday was because of what had happened to Lazarus:
(Jn 12:9 NKJV) Now a great many of the
Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also
see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead.
But before God uses Lazarus, he’s got to lose those graveclothes.
He is not going to be used as “the Mummy”, but as the “Resurrected Guy”, the guy
with the new life.
The graveclothes are almost a picture of that “old life”; they are the
kinds of things our life used to be about before we met Christ.
In a way, Lazarus is almost a picture of what happens to us when Jesus is
in our lives. Paul wrote,
(Eph 2:1–8 NLT) —1 Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many
sins.2 You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the
devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work
in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.3 All of us used to live that way, following the
passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we
were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. 4 But God is so rich in
mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us
life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you
have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated
us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us
in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and
kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with
Christ Jesus. 8 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take
credit for this; it is a gift from God.
Sometimes this is a hard concept for me to grasp. Spiritually, without Jesus, I was as good as
dead because of my sin. It’s kind of
like the mafia boss saying to the man who betrayed him, “You’re dead to
me”. When we came to trust in Christ,
God gave us the same resurrection life that rose Jesus from the dead.
took the old clothes of our deadness and gave us new clothes of life.
The Beggar’s Rags
A beggar lived
near the king’s palace. One day he saw a proclamation posted outside the palace
gate. The king was giving a great dinner. Anyone dressed in royal garments was
invited to the party. The beggar went on his way. He looked at the rags he was
wearing and sighed. Surely only kings and their families wore royal robes, he
thought. Slowly an idea crept into his mind. The audacity of it made him
tremble. Would he dare? He made his way back to the palace. He approached the guard
at the gate. “Please, sire, I would like to speak to the king.” “Wait here,”
the guard replied. In a few minutes, he was back. “His majesty will see you,”
he said, and led the beggar in. “You wish to see me?” asked the king. “Yes, your majesty. I want
so much to attend the banquet, but I have no royal robes to wear. Please, sir,
if I may be so bold, may I have one of your old garments so that I, too, may
come to the banquet?” The beggar shook so hard that he could not see the faint
smile that was on the king’s face. “You have been wise in coming to me,” the
king said. He called to his son, the young prince. “Take this man to your room
and array him in some of your clothes.” The prince did as he was told and soon the beggar was
standing before a mirror, clothed in garments that he had never dared hope for.
“You are now eligible to attend the king’s banquet tomorrow night,” said the
prince. “But even more important, you will never need any other clothes. These
garments will last forever.” The beggar dropped to his knees. “Oh, thank you,”
he cried. But as he started to leave, he looked back at his pile of dirty rags on the
floor. He hesitated. What if the prince was wrong? What if he would need his
old clothes again? Quickly he gathered them up. The banquet was far greater
than he had ever imagined, but he could not enjoy himself as he should. He had
made a small bundle of his old rags and it kept falling off his lap. The food
was passed quickly and the beggar missed some of the greatest delicacies. Time
proved that the prince was right. The clothes lasted forever. Still the poor
beggar grew fonder and fonder of his old rags. As time passed people seemed to
forget the royal robes he was wearing. They saw only the little bundle of filthy rags that he
clung to wherever he went. They even spoke of him as the old man with the rags.
One day as he lay dying, the king
visited him. The beggar saw the sad look on the king’s face when he looked at
the small bundle of rags by the bed. Suddenly the beggar remembered the
prince’s words and he realized that his bundle of rags had cost him a lifetime
of true royalty. He wept bitterly at his folly. And the king wept with him.
Edited from More
Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth
Those rags are
a picture of the “old life”, the things we used to get caught up in that aren’t
so good for us. At some point you have
to get rid of the rags.
When I was in eighth grade, I began my personal collection of Playboy
magazines. A fine stack of treasure for any young boy in
puberty. But as I began to grow as a
Christian, I got sick of that siren’s call coming from the stack of magazines
in my closet. It was a horrible and
wonderful day when I took that stack of magazines and threw them in the trash. Part of me was screaming inside, “But they
have such important articles in them!” Throwing
them away didn’t completely end my tendency to lust, but it sure took me a few
steps further down the road with Jesus.
I find it
interesting that Jesus doesn’t tell Lazarus to take his own graveclothes off,
but He tells the people around Lazarus to get him out of the graveclothes.
You see a picture of what “fellowship” is all about.
We can help each other out of our graveclothes.
That means that you can’t do this Christian life all on
your own. You need godly people in your
life, people who know how to untie knots.
You might find people frustrating and hard to get along
with, but some of those people are the very ones who can reach that knot tied
behind your back.