“Unit 15, Day 1: John 11,” New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2016)
“Unit 15, Day 1,” New Testament Study Guide
Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. Jesus delayed His coming, arriving four days after Lazarus had died. With love and compassion, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. This dramatic display of divine power emphasized that Jesus was the Messiah and had power over death. After learning of this miracle, the chief priests and Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus.
- Think of a trial or challenge that you (or someone you know) have gone through or are currently going through. Then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are some ways people’s faith in God may be affected as they experience trials and challenges in their lives?
Why do some people choose to give up their belief in God because of the trials or challenges they face?
As you study John 11, look for truths that can help you increase your faith in God as you experience trials and challenges in your life.
Read John 11:1–3, looking for a trial some friends of Jesus were experiencing.
Why do you think Lazarus’s sisters sent word of his sickness to Jesus?
Jesus was in Bethabara, in Perea (see John 1:28; 10:40), which was approximately a day’s journey east from Bethany. Therefore, it would have taken at least one day for a person to bring this message to Jesus and another day for Jesus to travel to Bethany.
Read John 11:4–7, looking for the way Jesus responded after hearing of Lazarus’s sickness.
Knowing that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, the disciples might have expected Jesus to immediately travel to Bethany and heal Lazarus. Or perhaps Jesus would speak and heal Lazarus from a distance, as He had done for a nobleman’s son (see John 4:46–53). However, Jesus stayed in Perea for two more days.
According to John 11:4, what did Jesus say would be accomplished through Lazarus’s sickness?
In John 11:8–10 we learn that some of the disciples advised Jesus not to return to Judea, where Bethany was located, because the Jewish leaders in that region sought to kill Him.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave the following explanation about the Savior’s response recorded in John 11:9–10: “Certainly Jesus would go to Judea in spite of the threats of death that faced him there. [In these verses Jesus taught:] ‘Though it be the eleventh hour of my life, yet there are twelve hours in the day, and during that designated period, I shall do the work appointed me without stumbling or faltering. This is the time given me to do my work. I cannot wait for the night when perchance the opposition will die down. He that shirks his responsibilities and puts off his labors until the night shall stumble in the darkness and fail in his work’” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:531).
Read John 11:11–15, looking for what Jesus said about Lazarus’s condition.
Consider marking the Savior’s statement regarding why He was glad He was not there to heal Lazarus of his sickness—“to the intent ye may believe” (John 11:15). He indicated that what He would do in Bethany would help His disciples increase their faith in Him.
In John 11:16, the Apostle Thomas encouraged his fellow disciples to join him in going with Jesus to Judea even if it meant dying with Him.
Read John 11:17, looking for how long Lazarus had been dead by the time Jesus came to Bethany.
Elder McConkie explained the significance of Lazarus having been dead for four days: “Decomposition was well under way; death had long since been established as an absolute certainty. … To the Jews the term of four days had special significance; it was the popular belief among them that by the fourth day the spirit had finally and irrevocably departed from the vicinity of the corpse” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:533).
If you were Martha or Mary, what might you have been thinking or feeling when Jesus didn’t arrive until Lazarus had been dead for four days?
Read John 11:18–27 to discover how Martha responded during this trial. Consider marking statements that show Martha’s choice to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during this trial. Think about each of the statements you identified and what impresses you most about them.
From Martha’s example we learn that we can choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during our trials.
In the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, look for what is required of us as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ:
“The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith means trust—trust in God’s will, trust in His way of doing things, and trust in His timetable. We should not try to impose our timetable on His. …
“Indeed, we cannot have true faith in the Lord without also having complete trust in the Lord’s will and in the Lord’s timing” (“Timing,” Ensign, Oct. 2003, 12).
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why do you think it is important for us to exercise faith in the Lord’s will and in His timing as we experience trials?
How are you choosing to exercise faith in your current trials? (Or how will you choose to exercise faith when trials come in your life?)
Review John 11:25–26, looking for truths we can learn from what the Savior taught Martha. It may help to know that the phrase “never die” in verse 26 refers to never experiencing the second death, or being banished from the kingdom and presence of God.
The following are two truths we learn from the Savior’s words: Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. If we believe in Jesus Christ, we can obtain eternal life.
How does Mary’s statement in verse 32 reflect her faith in the Savior?
Ponder John 11:35. Why do you think Jesus wept?
Read John 11:38–46, looking for what the Savior did after He wept with Mary and Martha.
Note that Lazarus was not resurrected from the dead into an immortal state. His spirit body was brought back to his physical body, but his physical body was still mortal and subject to death again.
Elder McConkie taught about an important purpose the Savior accomplished through raising Lazarus from the dead: “He was setting the stage, so as to dramatize for all time, one of his greatest teachings: That he was the resurrection and the life, that immortality and eternal life came by him, and that those who believed and obeyed his words should never die spiritually” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:531).
How did this miracle foreshadow the Savior’s Resurrection and show His power over death? How can we be blessed by understanding the Savior’s power to provide immortality and eternal life?
Notice in John 11:40 that Jesus reminded Martha that if she would believe, she would see the glory of God. Think about how Martha and Mary demonstrated their faith in Jesus Christ during this trial. Recall that they initially demonstrated faith in Jesus Christ by sending for Him when Lazarus was sick, and they continued to believe and trust in Him even after Lazarus died.
From John 11 we learn that if we choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during our trials, then our faith in Him will be confirmed and deepened. It is important to remember that, as in the experience of Martha and Mary, such confirmation of our faith comes according to the Lord’s wisdom and timing.
How might bringing Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four days have confirmed and strengthened not only Martha’s and Mary’s faith in the Savior but also His disciples’ faith?
- Answer one or both of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you chosen to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during a trial and had your faith in Him confirmed or strengthened as a result?
What will you do to help you choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during trials you are experiencing or that you may experience?
Raising Lazarus from the dead was evidence that Jesus had power over death. Read John 11:47–48, looking for how the chief priests and Pharisees responded to reports of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
As recorded in John 11:49–57, Caiaphas, the high priest, supported having Jesus killed in order to keep the Romans from taking away their “place and nation” (John 11:48). “Because of priestcrafts and iniquities” (2 Nephi 10:5), the Jewish leaders did not want to lose their positions of influence within their nation. They determined to put Jesus to death, and they commanded that those knowing of His whereabouts should notify them so He could be taken.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied John 11 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: