Rev. Ronald C. Purkey claims no originality for this Bible study outline.
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DEATH OF A FRIEND
January 31, 2016
SCRIPTURE: John 11:38-44
KEY VERSES: 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-26)
BRAKGROUND: The death of their brother Lazarus was difficult for the Bethany family, but look at it in the light of God’s love (John 11:3, 5, 36).
· God’s Love Hears (John 11:1–3). The sisters sent their message to the Lord because they knew He was concerned about them. God’s love keeps His ears open to our cries (Psalm 34:12–16).
· God’s Love Waits (John 11:4–6). We think that love must act immediately, but sometimes delay brings a greater blessing: “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” Jesus gave them a promise to encourage them while they waited (John 11:4). The promise seemed to have failed, but Jesus knew what He was doing.
· God’s Love Risks (John 11:7–16). It was dangerous for Jesus to return to Judea, but He went just the same. The raising of Lazarus helped to precipitate the plans that led to His death (John 11:45–57).
· God’s Love Comforts (John 11:17–32). Jesus came to the sisters, listened to them, and assured them with His word. He cannot really help us until we move from “Lord, if . . .” (John 11:21, 32) to “Yes, Lord, I believe” (John 11:27).
· God’s Love Weeps (John 11:33–37). Jesus identifies with our sorrows (Hebrews 4:15–16). He knew He would raise Lazarus from the dead, but Jesus still wept with the sisters and their friends. Truly, no one ever cared for me like Jesus!
INTRODUCTION: The raising of Lazarus from the dead was not the last miracle of Jesus before the Cross, but it was certainly Christ’s greatest miracle!
A. This miracle aroused the most response both from the Lord’s friends and the Lord’s enemies.
John chose this miracle as the seventh in the series recorded in John’s Gospel because it was really the most important miracle of our Lord’s earthly ministry. Jesus had raised others from the dead, but Lazarus had been in the grave four days. It was a miracle that could not be denied or avoided by anyone including the Jewish leaders.
B. If the Lord Jesus can’t do anything about death, then whatever else He can do amounts to nothing.
“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Death is our last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), but the Lord Jesus has conquered this awful enemy totally and forever.
C. The emphasis in John 11 is on FAITH.
We find some form of the word believe at least eight times in John chapter eleven. Another theme is “the glory of God” (John 11:4, 40).
I. THE TOMB UNSEALED: “Take ye away the stone.” (John 11:38-40)
(John 11:38–40) Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
A. Death is an awful thing.
The subject of death is skirted by people today. The undertakers try in every way to make death seem like a pleasant episode. Let’s face it very frankly, we can’t cover up death by embalming and painting up the face, dressing the body in a good suit of clothes, and then placing it in a pretty coffin surrounded by flowers. Although this is done to help soften the shock, death is an awful thing.
B. Lazarus was dead for four days.
Martha said that he had been buried for four days already and his body would stink; it would be decaying. Someone may think that sounds crude. So is death crude. It is awful. This case is certainly going to require a miracle.
Be Ready When God Calls
A little girl had questions about her grandpa's death. In an attempt to answer them her mom explained that God had called grandpa to come home with Him and that one day he would call her as well.
The little girl ran to her room, with her mother following to seek to console her. When the mother got to the little girl's room she found her opening her dresser. Mom asked what she was doing, and the little girl told her she was packing! She wanted to be ready when God called…good advice for all of us! – Author Unknown
II. THE SAVIORS’ PRAYER: “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” (John 11:41-42)
(John 11:41–42) Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
A. Jesus prayed for the sake of others.
Notice the many times in this account that what Jesus did he did for the sake of the ones involved. Earlier he said to the disciples, "I am glad I was not there for your sake.” Jesus stayed two days where He was when the message reached Him "because He loved Mary and Martha." It was for their sake he did so.
B. Jesus showed that God was in it.
Now he prays out loud for the sake of the people there. He wants them to see that God the Father is involved with Him in this, that He is not a magic worker coming to astonish them, but that God is with Him. He calls on God to work and He has every assurance, without the slightest doubt, that He will. It is a simple prayer of gratitude, a wonderful expression, spoken aloud to prove that God is behind him.
C. Jesus gave the glory to God the Father.
Remember that this whole incident is for the glory of God. Jesus prays audibly to let the people know that what He is going to do is the will of the Father so that the Father will get the glory. He voices His prayer for the benefit of those who are present.
III. THE LORD’S COMMAND: “Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:43-44)
(John 11:43–44) And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
A. Jesus Christ had miracle working power.
I want to mention here that I think there were multitudes raised from the dead by Jesus Christ. I think there were multitudes who were healed, hundreds of blind people who received their sight. The Gospels record only a few instances for us.
B. Jesus Christ could give life to dead bodies.
Notice that for Lazarus, life was restored to the old body. He came out still wrapped in all the graveclothes.
a. Jesus had a glorified body.
When our Lord rose from the dead, He left all the graveclothes in place just as they had been wrapped around His body, including the napkin which had been wrapped around his head. He came right out of them. Why? Because He came out in a glorified body.
b. Jesus had a spiritual body.
They didn’t need to roll away the stone for Jesus to come out. It was rolled away so the people on the outside could look in and see that the tomb was empty. His glorified body could leave the sealed grave and it could also enter a room with all the doors locked.
C. Jesus Christ gave us an important illustration.
1. There is a beautiful picture of salvation in this.
We were dead in trespasses and sins, dead to God, and are now made alive to God in Christ Jesus. But, friend, each of us is being held back by those graveclothes.
2. There is the admonition of Paul the apostle.
Paul could say, “… For what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I…. O wretched man that I am!….” (Romans 7:15 & 24). This was not an unsaved man talking; this was a believer. Jesus wants us to be free from those graveclothes. He says, “Loose him, and let him go.”
At The Cemetery
By David Egner
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. – John 11:25
A. When a loved one dies and we go to the cemetery, we may join a long processional.
1. We may sit or stand around the gravesite and listen respectfully while the minister commits the body to the earth and reads Bible verses about the resurrection.
2. Then the casket is lowered into the ground.
3. We may return later to leave some flowers and stand with heads bowed in memory and respect.
4. Our loved one is dead, and we know we can never bring him back.
B. When Jesus went to the cemetery, it was different.
1. Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died, and when He got to the tomb, He exercised His power and authority.
2. Jesus commanded: “Take away the stone” (John 11:39).
3. Jesus commanded: “Lazarus, come forth!” (Verse 43).
4. Jesus commanded: “Loose him, and let him go” (Verse 44).
C. We might wish with all our hearts that we could bring a loved one back, but IF WE WERE TO GIVE THOSE COMMANDS NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN.
1. But Jesus has that ability, for He is “the resurrection and the life” (Verse 25).
2. His power was demonstrated when Lazarus came out of the tomb -- alive!
D. One day, Jesus will again be “at the cemetery.”
1. And when He gives the command, all the dead who believed in Him will “come forth.”
(John 5:28-29) 28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
(1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
2. What a day that will be! -- Adapted from David Egner, Our Daily Bread, 2/26/03
will not last, joy will return,
For through our tears we clearly see
That while we part but for a time,
With Christ we'll spend eternity. — Dennis De Haan
A. The Lord Jesus Christ told Martha: “I am the resurrection, and the life; Jesus then said: "Believest thou this?" (John 11:25-26).
1. This is a crucial question for every person.
2. The Word of God teaches us that physical death is not our end, that eternal life begins as soon as physical death is experienced, and that heaven is a real place of great joy for the believer.
B. Martha stated that she believed even before she saw the Lord Jesus raise her brother, Lazarus, from the dead.
1. Martha knew, as other believers may know, that Jesus Christ is the King even over life and death.
2. After we physically die, it is through Jesus Christ that we believers will experience everything the Bible has promised us concerning heaven.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: “For the Christian, death is the doorway to glory.”
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REFERENCES: References used in the Bible study are the King James Bible (KJV), Dr. J. Vernon McGee © Thru the Bible Radio Network ( www.ttb.org ), the Scofield Study Bible, the Believer’s Bible Commentary, Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge Bible Outlines, Dr. Lee Roberson’s Sermons, Dr. Charles Stanley: ( http://www.intouch.org/ ), Don Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Women’s Study Bible, The Bible Reader’s Companion Ed. 3, The Nelson Study Bible: New King James Version, KJV Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the New Testament ed. 4, Dr. David Jeremiah: ( http://www.davidjeremiah.org/site/ ), Dr. Cliff Robinson’s Bible Outlines, Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines of the Old Testament, With the Word Bible Commentary, Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: Old & New Testaments, RBC Ministries ( http://rbc.org/ ), selected illustrations, and other references.
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