The Resurrection and the Life
Adult 1 Sunday School Class John 11:17-27 May 20, 2012
Theme: John use of the "I am" statements of Jesus is seen again in verse 25 when Jesus assures Martha that He is "the resurrection and the life". Jesus affirms Martha's belief in Him as the Messiah.
Understanding and Interpreting the Scriptures (answers are in bold print)
Please explain the meaning or significance of the following verses:
* John 11:17, 18, and 19, "Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother." Jesus found Lazarus had been dead and buried 4 days when he arrived in Bethany. Many Jews believed that the soul remains near the body for 3 days after death in the hope that it might return to it. If this was in the minds of Martha and Mary, they may have felt that all hope was lost. Another question in their minds was why Jesus didn’t come earlier when He was so close. It was about 2 miles from Jerusalem with a fairly large Jewish population, who would later witness the miracle that Jesus was about to perform. A month long mourning period allowed Martha and Mary to be comforted in the loss of their brother.
* V. 20, "Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house." Martha went out to meet Jesus, whereas Mary stayed in the house. It was assumed that Martha was the eldest and more outgoing, whereas Mary was the more contemplative and thus stayed to greet the mourners that came by.
*V. 21 and 22, "Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." Martha now expresses in verse 21 what she probably felt in verse 17; had Jesus been present her brother would not have died. However, in verse 22, she still exhibits her faith that nothing is impossible with God. "…whatsoever thou wilt ask of God," indicates a fervent belief that God can resurrect her brother even though Lazarus' body has begun to decay.
*v.23 and 24, "Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus and Martha may be having parallel conversations when He says, "Thy brother shall rise again". Martha says that she understands that her brother shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day (Judgment day). If Martha assumes that this is Jesus' only meaning, then she might miss that Lazarus' immediate return from death to life through Jesus was possible.
*v. 25 and 26, "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?" Jews believed in a final resurrection of the dead and the coming rule of God. When Jesus says that "He is the resurrection and the life.", that means that He has sovereignty over the resurrection in the future as well as the immediate resurrection, which is life. This information was revealing to Martha. This is what all believers had hoped for. The power of Jesus to initiate eternal life and resurrection for all humankind and illustrating that death is impossible for Him. With this, it is important for Martha to understand what Jesus is saying and what He is about to do. Jesus is saying, "Those who believe in Him, though they die, will live; and the person who lives and believes in Him will never die." Jesus is asking Martha an important question in verse 26, not only for her, but for all believers: Believeth thou this? (Do you believe?) Unless you believe in Jesus and His Word, the eternal life which He offers will not be yours.
*v 27, "She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." Martha replies with total commitment by saying, “Yea (yes), I believe …" This means that she understood and believed on the Word of Christ, the Son of God. She was saying that she believed in all He had said in verse 25 and 26. Martha was totally committed. We too can show our commitment: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." (Romans 10:9) However, we should also remember James 2:17, "Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead,"
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