These small group studies of John contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
John 10:31-11:44 Inductive Bible Study
The Jews reject Jesus (31-39)
Jesus left that area to go where John had baptized before (40-42)
Jesus gets the news that Lazarus was sick (11:1-16)
Jesus’ encounter with Martha (17-27)
Jesus’ encounter with Mary (28-37)
Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead (38-44)
Teaching Points –
What was the Jews’ argument for killing Jesus?
Was this a reasonable argument?
How did Jesus respond to their accusations of blasphemy?
Why does he discuss this verse about being called gods? What is His point?
What does it mean to you that “The Scripture cannot be broken”?
What was Jesus’ defense?
How do you think Jesus “eluded their grasp”?
John 8:59 – A previous time they attempted to stone Jesus.
John 5:18 – A previous time they tried to kill Jesus realizing He made Himself equal with God.
Leviticus 24:16 – An Old Testament law that said blasphemers should be put to death.
Psalms 82:1-6 – The Old Testament passage that reads, “I said, ‘You are gods.’”
The Jews once again tried to stone Jesus. Jesus basically asks what charge. The charge is blasphemy. This was a charge worthy of death.
Jesus then defends Himself. He uses an Old Testament verse where rulers are referred to as “gods”. If even rulers are referred to as gods then surely Jesus shouldn’t be killed for saying that He is the Son of God. Notice that Jesus never once mentions here that He is not God and not equal to God, but rather that He has not blasphemed God’s name and done nothing worthy of being killed
Jesus obviously knew the Old Testament very well. We learn from Him a very important point of Scripture. He said it cannot be broken. This means that it is inerrant. It has no errors inside of it. Wherever Scripture speaks, it is correct. Some have said that it is a religious book with religious ideas and that its history or science or facts aren’t to be trusted. However, Jesus says it cannot be broken. Some try to break it. They cannot succeed. Since it is inspired by God it is natural that Scripture is also inerrant. It also has the authority of God.
We also see that Jesus is an exegetical preacher! He takes a verse and from it forms a careful and even technical argument. Because even the details of the Bible are correct we can study it and preach it with confidence.
Jesus mentioned His works as a reason to believe. That was a major reason He did miracles, to show people He was the Messiah so that they would believe in Him. Therefore it is reasonable to look at evidences. I have heard people say that it is not spiritual to consider the evidence that God exists. Some have said we should abandon all rational thought as that will somehow lessen our faith in Him. Unbelievers also sometimes accuse Christians of this. They say that we believe in God blindly and throw out all reason for superstition. Some Christians reply proudly, “I don’t need any evidence. I believe in God.” While their faith is admirable we see here from Jesus that one doesn’t have to abandon all reason in order to believe God. In fact we are even encouraged to look at the facts, to look at the miracles, at the evidences that Jesus is true and by implication that God exists. It is not beneath Christians to understand why they believe what they do and to put up a solid argument for it. From 1 Peter 3:15 we even know that we should have a defense for faith. Jesus had done enough miracles that without even any words they should have believed just from the evidence. Don’t fall into the world’s trap thinking we have the weaker position. Actually it is much stronger. I encourage all of you to really study up on apologetics so that you can defend your faith. I believe that the more you study the stronger your faith will get. Your faith can only be helped by a strong foundation.
Several reasons for apologetics
We are commanded to defend the faith.
It helps us to know why we believe and will strengthen our faith.
Apologetics can be used of God as a tool to reach some logically minded people (although it will never be enough without God’s call in their life).
It can counter the bad image Christianity has in society as quacks.
To fight apostasy within the church.
To fight cults.
To show the educational establishment Creation, Bible, Christianity, etc. are valid.
Why would this place be a good place for Jesus to do ministry?
The people here had already heard John and so were somewhat prepared for Jesus. When they say that Jesus was exactly like John had told them many had faith and believed.
How did Lazarus’ sickness bring glory to God?
Lazarus did die so what does it mean that his sickness wasn’t to end in death?
We know that Jesus loves everyone. So what does verse 5 mean?
Can we learn anything in verse 6 about prayer or the will of God?
What reasons were there for Jesus not to go to Judea?
What does Jesus mean in verses 9-10?
What does it mean that Lazarus had “fallen asleep”? How did Jesus know that?
Wouldn’t it have been better if Jesus had been there so that Lazarus wouldn’t die? (5)
Why was it better that He wasn’t there?
What can we learn from this about trials and the will of God?
Discuss Thomas’ response in verse 16.
John 9:3-4 – Jesus says that the blind man was blind so that God’s works might be shown.
Proverbs 3:23-26 – We don’t need to afraid of anything because the Lord is our confidence.
Proverbs 4:18-19 – A contrast between the way of the righteous and the (light) and the way of the wicked (stumble in the dark).
Proverbs 6:12,15 – The wicked on will face calamity suddenly and be broken without being healed.
1 Thessalonians 4:14-15 – Jesus will resurrect those who have fallen asleep in Him (this term is used 7 times in the New Testament).
Romans 8:28 – All things work together for good…
In this chapter we are going to look at several aspects of the will of God in different areas that the believers face as well as the confidence this a believer should have if he is in the will of God.
The setting of this chapter is seen in verses 1-3. Lazarus, a friend of Jesus, and brother of two female believers, was sick. In verse 3 the sisters send word to Jesus. It definitely seems that there is an implicit request in the verse. The sisters believed in Jesus and had seen is miracles. Later both of them state that if Jesus were there he wouldn’t have died. So this can be considered as a request for Jesus to come back and heal Lazarus. This is like many prayer requests that we might have. Have you ever prayed and asked God for healing for a relative or friend?
In verse 4 Jesus receives the message. His response shows the will of God in this trial. Lazarus’ sickness was for the same purpose that the blind man was blind. John 9:3-4. It is for the glory of God. We also learn in verse 15 He also has a purpose in it for the disciples and for others in the world. From this we can take comfort that God has a purpose in whatever sufferings or trials we face. Sometimes in the middle of the difficulty we may think it is meaningless. Or like Job, we may think it is unfair. At the very least many of us do not understand why we are facing a particular trial or trouble while we are in the middle of it. Many lose faith in God when these types of events come. Some even grow bitter towards God asking, “How could He do this to me?”
But we don’t have to despair. God does have a purpose for trials. Romans 8:28. James 1.
How will we respond when we face trials that we can’t understand? Have Faith or Fall away.
Jesus loved Lazarus and the family. Apparently he had a close and personal relationship with them and seemed to know them well.
Yet in the very next verse He amazingly doesn’t immediately respond to their cry for help! Wait a second. He loves them, but He doesn’t respond immediately to solve their problem!
They present a request to Jesus, but He didn’t answer it immediately. Back in Bethany they were likely worried and fretting and wondering where was Jesus? Why didn’t He help them?
We also pray to God with various requests. If He doesn’t answer when we expect and hope Him to we also may fear, doubt, even complain. But we need to learn the lesson that Mary and Martha were going to have. God’s answers don’t always come in our timing. God has His own perfect timing. Is it random or pointless? No, Jesus had a specific reason for delaying. If He delays, does that mean He doesn’t love us? No again. He did love them. And in fact that was part of the reason He did delay. This would be better for them long term.
So if God doesn’t answer our prayer according to our timing, how will we respond? If He doesn’t give us a job when we expect it what will we do? If He doesn’t give us a wife when we expect it, will we complain? Remember Daniel asked the first official if he could only eat vegetables and the first official said no. Did Daniel give up? Nope, he asked another one. So if God doesn’t answer our prayer according to our timing we can either have faith and persist in prayer or we can give up and do things our way.
What effect will it have on our attitudes if we do the will of God? From verses 7-16 we see that doing the will of God brings boldness to our life. If we do the will of God in a sense we are invincible, indestructible. Why? We can serve God freely and confidently knowing that whatever happens is part of His plan for us. Jesus was willing to walk right into the hornet’s nest, right where they had tried to kill Him already. He knew it was right. He was walking in the light of the Father’s will so nothing bad could happen to Him. Discuss the above verses in Proverbs. If we are serving God, we have nothing to fear. What can man do to us? If we do the will of God we can know He will protect us from all evil. We can be bold no matter we go up against.
Some may say “sure Jesus can be bold. He is God!” But it wasn’t only Jesus. “Doubting Thomas” also was bold.
How far away was Jesus when He got Mary’s message originally?
What does Jesus mean that He is the resurrection and the life?
How will someone live even if they die?
Discuss Martha and her conversation with Jesus.
Daniel 12:2 – Discusses the last day resurrection.
Matthew 16:16 – Peter made a similar confession of faith to Martha.
When Jesus arrived Lazarus had been dead 4 days. Apparently Lazarus died shortly after the message was sent. One day to Jesus. Two days waiting there. One day back. We see in verses 21-22 that Martha had a lot of faith in Jesus (at the same time was she giving Him a mild rebuke for not being there). Yet although she had a lot of faith it was still limited (Jesus had to be there, and she didn’t seem to expect He would raise Lazarus from the dead).
On the resurrection and the life:
From Romans 6:23 we know that the wages of sin is death. This death doesn’t only refer to physical death, but it also refers to spiritual death. Spiritual death is separation from God and is punished by an eternity in hell. This is terrible news for humans. By our own efforts we cannot escape this fate.
But Jesus promises hope! We don’t have to be doomed to separation from God and punishment! We don’t have to go through life as a slave of sin! By believing in Jesus we can have a new life, here in this earth and after we die. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold new things have come.” Jesus promises a resurrection in our spiritual lives. He will wash away our sins and give us a new, joyful life in Him. But that’s not all! Even though our body will die, that is not the end for us. It is the beginning of a new and wonderful life in the very presence of Jesus.
These are some amazing promises. But once again Jesus proved they are true. Shortly after he said “I am the resurrection and the life” he raised a man from the dead. Even more incredible, He himself raised from the dead, proving He has the power over death and the power to give us this life.
Remember John is not only a book telling us about Jesus’ miracles. The main point is to use these miracles and Jesus’ teachings to show us who Jesus is so that we will believe in Him. This miracle that was about to do proved that Jesus was the resurrection and the life. He will resurrect our physical bodies and make them new and perfect. He will give us eternal life. But these promises aren’t for only after our death; they are for now. He will resurrect our spiritual life, making us alive in Christ, transforming us. He will give us abundant life.
Once again Jesus doesn’t just put the fact out there, but it comes with a response for us. He asks Martha if she believes Him. I ask all of you, do you believe this? If you believe it, show it by action! Allow Him the control to transform your life.
Martha responded well, like Peter had in Matthew 16:16.
V. What do these verses reveal about community life at that time?
Why was Jesus moved so much?
Why did He weep? What does this show us about Jesus’ character? Is crying a weakness?
James 5:11- The Lord is full of compassion and merciful (even in the midst of trials)!
Luke 19:41 – Jesus wept over Jerusalem.
1 Thessalonians 4:13 – Do not grieve like those who have no hope.
Mary then came out and met Jesus. She greeted Him with the same response as Martha. If He had been there Lazarus wouldn’t have died. The word for “weeping” in verse 33 is like wailing. Very loud. The word used for Jesus’ weeping means He did it quietly. 1 Thess 4:13
They might have been tempted to think that Jesus didn’t care. That He didn’t love them. Yet Jesus here shows He has a heart of compassion. Even in the midst of the trial Jesus had compassion on them and did love them. It wasn’t that He callously refused to help. It hurt Him to see them suffering and sad. Yet His timing was still for the best. It’s tough for a parent to see their child suffering, but it doesn’t always mean the parent will come to the child’s rescue immediately. Maybe the child needs to learn something. Here is a similar situation. Read and discuss verses.
Discuss the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, and what it shows about Jesus’ nature as well as the will of God.
The will of God in answering prayer. Jesus not only had a specific time He was going to answer their request/prayer. He also had a specific way. The way He did it was much more miraculous. Think about it. If He had simply gone their and healed Lazarus people could have explained it away. They could have said it was coincidence and that Lazarus healed naturally. Doing it this way in front of a crowd showed His power to everyone. It showed to everyone strong evidence that He was the Messiah. It should have made everyone have strong faith in Him, the disciples, Mary and Martha, as well as the other spectators. Mary and Martha wouldn’t have dreamed that Jesus would have answered their prayer in this way, but God often doesn’t answer prayers as we expect He will. We need to have faith and keep looking for how and when He will answer it and what He wants us to learn in the meantime.
Jesus prays out loud here so that everyone will hear and no by what power He does it. What an amazing miracle and an amazing sight to see a man who had been dead four days come out!
Key verses, 25-26, 40. Faith. This is the response we need to get from this chapter.
Evidence is a reasonable reason to believe in God. Apologetics are important and we should all strive to learn more to have a better foundation to defend the faith.
The will of God in trials is for our good and for His glory. He loves us in the midst of trials.
God’s will doesn’t always come according to our timing. We need to be willing to wait patiently and persist in faith and serving Him even if His answers take longer than we expect.
Doing God’s will makes us bold.
Jesus I the resurrection and the life. He will raise up our bodies again one day. He will transform our lives here on earth and give us abundant and full spiritual life.
Jesus is full of compassion and pours this out on us even in the middle of our trials. He is not like a cold, calculating chess master using us as pieces.
The answer God gives to our prayer may be very different than what we expect. Keep praying and keep our eyes open!