Lesson 71: John 11

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother Lazarus was sick. Jesus delayed His journey and arrived 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 chosen Messiah and had power over death. After learning of this miracle, the chief priests and Pharisees plotted to kill Jesus and Lazarus.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 11:1–46

Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead

Provide each student with a small piece of paper. Invite students to write on the paper a trial that they or someone they know has experienced. As students write, inform them that what they write will be shared anonymously with the class, so they should not write their names on their papers. Gather the papers, and read aloud some of the trials. (To avoid the possibility of students being identified with certain trials, if you have only a few students, ask students to list several trials that they have seen others experience.)

  • What are some ways people’s faith in Jesus Christ may be affected as they experience trials?

Invite students to look for truths as they study John 11 that can help us increase our faith in Jesus Christ as we experience trials.

Invite a student to read John 11:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a trial some friends of Jesus experienced.

  • According to verse 1, what trial did Lazarus experience? How might this have also been a trial for Mary and Martha?

  • What did Mary and Martha do because of Lazarus’s sickness? What does this response indicate about them?

Point out that Jesus was in Bethabara of Perea (see John 1:28; 10:40), which was approximately a day’s journey 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.

Invite a student to read John 11:4–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the way Jesus responded after hearing of Lazarus’s sickness.

  • Knowing that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, what might the disciples have expected Jesus to do once He heard of Lazarus’s sickness? (Immediately travel to Bethany and heal Lazarus; or perhaps speak and heal him from a distance, as Jesus had done for a nobleman’s son [see John 4:46–53].)

  • What did Jesus do instead?

  • According to verse 4, what did Jesus say would be accomplished through Lazarus’s sickness?

Remind students that Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem in the land of Judea (see John 11:18). Summarize John 11:8–10 by explaining that some of the disciples advised Jesus not to return to Judea because the Jewish leaders in that region sought to kill Him (see John 10:31–39 and Joseph Smith Translation, John 11:16 [in John 11:16, footnote a]). Jesus responded by indicating that He would use the time remaining in His life to do His work without faltering.

Invite a student to read John 11:11–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus said about Lazarus’s condition.

  • What did the disciples mistakenly believe Jesus said about Lazarus’s condition?

  • According to verse 15, why was Jesus glad He was not there to heal Lazarus of his sickness? (Invite students to consider marking the statement “to the intent ye may believe” in their scriptures.)

Point out that the Savior indicated that what He would do in Bethany would help His disciples increase their faith in Him.

Summarize John 11:16 by explaining that the Apostle Thomas encouraged his fellow disciples to join him in going with Jesus to Judea even if it meant dying with Him.

Invite students to read John 11:17 silently, looking for how long Lazarus had been dead by the time Jesus came to Bethany. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the significance of Lazarus having been dead for four days.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“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, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:533).

  • To the Jews, what was the significance of a person being dead for four days?

  • 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?

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 11:18–27. Ask the class to look for what Martha said to Jesus regarding this trial.

video iconInstead of asking students to read, you could show them the depiction of this conversation between the Savior and Martha in the video “Lazarus Is Raised from the Dead” from The Life of Jesus Christ Bible Videos [time code 2:02–3:35]. This video is available on LDS.org.

Downloads
Downloads: Small Medium Large
  • Which statements in verses 21–27 indicate that Martha chose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during this trial? (If you showed the video, you may want to give students one minute to review these verses.)

  • Which of Martha’s statements impresses you most? Why?

  • What can we learn from Martha’s example about what we can do during trials we experience? (Students may identify a principle such as the following: We can choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during our trials.)

Direct students’ attention to John 11:25–26. Explain that the phrase “never die” (John 11:26) refers to the second or spiritual death, or separation from the presence and kingdom of God.

  • What truths do we learn from the Savior’s statement to Martha? (Students may identify truths such as the following: Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life. If we believe in Jesus Christ, we can obtain eternal life.)

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 11:28–36. Ask the class to look for what Mary said to Jesus and how He responded. You may need to explain that “groan” in these verses means to grieve or be distressed.

video iconInstead of having students read, you could show the depiction of these verses in the video “Lazarus Is Raised from the Dead” [time code 3:36–4:50].

Downloads
Downloads: Small Medium Large
  • How does Mary’s statement in verse 32 reflect her faith in the Savior?

  • How did Jesus respond when He saw the weeping of Mary and of those with her?

  • Why do you think Jesus wept?

Invite students to read John 11:37 silently, looking for what some people wondered regarding what Jesus could have done for Lazarus. Ask students to report what they find.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from John 11:38–46. Ask the class to look for what the Savior did next.

video iconInstead of having students read, you could show the depiction of these verses in the video “Lazarus Is Raised from the Dead” [time code 4:51–7:51].

Downloads
Downloads: Small Medium Large
  • In verse 40, what did Jesus remind Martha of after she questioned removing the stone covering Lazarus’s grave?

  • How was this promise fulfilled? (You may need to explain that Lazarus was not resurrected from the dead and was not immortal; his spirit body was brought back to his physical body, but his physical body was still mortal.)

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. Ask the class to listen for an important purpose the Savior accomplished through raising Lazarus from the dead.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie

“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, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:531).

  • How did this miracle foreshadow the Savior’s Resurrection?

  • How did this miracle manifest His power to provide immortality and eternal life?

  • How can we be blessed by understanding the Savior’s power to provide immortality and eternal life?

Remind the class that Martha and Mary initially demonstrated faith in Jesus Christ by sending for Him when Lazarus was sick and continued to believe and trust in Him even after Lazarus died. Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during our trials, then …

  • How would you complete this principle based on what we have learned from John 11? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so that it reads as follows: If we choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during our trials, then our faith in Him will be confirmed and deepened.)

Remind students that some people wondered if Jesus could have prevented Lazarus from dying (see verse 37), yet Jesus waited to arrive in Bethany until Lazarus had been dead for four days (see verse 17).

  • How might bringing Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for four days have confirmed and deepened Jesus’s disciples’ and Martha’s and Mary’s faith in the Savior? (In raising Lazarus from the dead after four days, Jesus showed that He has power over death in a way that Jews could not deny or misinterpret.)

  • When have you chosen to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during a trial and had your faith in Him confirmed or deepened as a result?

Invite students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do to help them choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ during trials they are experiencing or may experience.

John 11:47–57

The chief priests and Pharisees counsel together to kill Jesus

Invite a student to read John 11:47–48 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the way the chief priests and Pharisees responded to reports of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Ask students to report what they find.

Summarize John 11:49–57 by explaining that Caiaphas, the high priest, advocated that Jesus should be killed to prevent their nation’s destruction by the Romans. He also unwittingly prophesied of the effects the death of Jesus would have on God’s children. The Jewish leaders determined to put Jesus to death and commanded that those knowing of His whereabouts should notify them so He could be taken.

Conclude by testifying of the truths discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

John 11:11. “Lazarus sleepeth”

The Savior referred to Lazarus’s death as a sleep. Sleep is a fitting metaphor for death because all mortals must sleep, sleep is a temporary condition from which we wake, and after sleeping the body is renewed. Similarly, all mortals must die, death is a temporary condition that ends when we are resurrected, and in the Resurrection our bodies are made new.

It is likely that Lazarus had already died by the time Jesus was informed that Lazarus was sick. It was approximately one day’s journey from Bethany to where Jesus was in Perea (see John 10:40). By choosing to wait two days before departing and then traveling for one day, Jesus arrived in Bethany after Lazarus had been dead for four days.

John 11:43–44. Important purposes accomplished in raising Lazarus from the dead

“The raising of Lazarus from the dead was one of the most remarkable miracles in history. Before this miracle occurred, the Savior had brought two individuals back to life: the daughter of Jairus (see Luke 8:41–42, 49–56) and the son of the widow of Nain (see Luke 7:11–17). However, the raising of Lazarus was different from these miracles and had important purposes, as explained by Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:

“‘With “our friend Lazarus” it was different. … Two reasons in particular stand out. (1) As our Lord neared the climax of his mortal ministry, he was again bearing testimony, in a way that could not be refuted, of his Messiahship, of his divine Sonship, of the fact that he was in very deed the literal Son of God; and (2) 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, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:530–31)” (New Testament Student Manual [Church Educational System manual, 2014], 236).

The raising of Lazarus from the dead was evidence that Jesus was literally the Son of God, a title Jews associated with the Messiah (see Psalm 2:7; John 11:41–42).

John 11:25. “I am the resurrection, and the life”

When the Savior stated, “I am the resurrection, and the life,” He made a declaration about His divine identity and power. By this statement, Jesus taught that resurrection and eternal life are represented in His person. He is the source of resurrection and eternal life and the reason that these are possible for Heavenly Father’s children. As President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained, “the keys of the Resurrection repose securely with our Lord and Master” (“Life after Life,” Ensign, May 1987, 10).

President Ezra Taft Benson explained why the power of resurrection resided in the Savior:

“He is the Resurrection and the Life. (See John 11:25.)

“This power to revive His own life was possible because Jesus Christ was God—even the Son of God. Because He had the power to overcome death, all mankind will be resurrected. ‘Because I live, ye shall live also’ (John 14:19.)” (“Jesus Christ: Our Savior and Redeemer,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 7).

Jesus Christ provides life by enabling spiritual rebirth (see John 3:3–5) and by empowering others to live His way of life, which is the way to eternal life (see John 14:6). Those who are spiritually reborn and faithfully follow the Savior receive forgiveness of their sins, and their hearts are gradually sanctified from sin. If they continue faithful to the end of their lives, they will come forth in the “resurrection of life” (John 5:29), meaning they will have eternal life. All of this is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Supplemental Teaching Idea

John 11. Jesus Christ is the source of resurrection and eternal life

Consider replacing the teaching idea used to begin the lesson with the following:

Bring to class some batteries and a cup of water. Before class, draw a picture of the sun on the board. Direct students’ attention to the picture of the sun and the items you brought to class.

  • What is each of these items a source of?

Display a picture of Jesus Christ. Ask students to ponder what He is a source of in their lives. Ask students as they study John 11 to look for what Jesus taught He is the source of for all of God’s children.

Later in the lesson, after students identify the truths such as Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life and if we believe in Jesus Christ, we can obtain eternal life, remind them of the items displayed earlier in the lesson. Point out that similar to how we rely on each of these items to provide some sort of life and power in our lives, we rely on the Savior as the source of immortality and eternal life.