John 11–12

New Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2002), 123–25


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Introduction

John states that there are “many other signs” that Jesus did “which are not written in this book,” but that “these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:30–31). Much of John’s narrative is organized around seven miracles or “signs”: changing water to wine at Cana (John 2:1–11), healing a nobleman’s son (John 4:46–54), healing the lame man at Bethesda (John 5:1–9), multiplying bread and fish (John 6:1–14), walking on water (John 6:15–21), healing a man born blind (John 9:1–7), and raising Lazarus (John 11:38–44). Each of these signs relates symbolically to Jesus’ role as Savior of mankind. For example His turning water to wine prefigures the blood shed for us in the Atonement, and His healing the man at the pool of Bethesda reminds us that Christ is the source of living water (see also John 4:10–14). The raising of Lazarus shows the Lord’s power over death and prefigures His Resurrection. Just before performing this miracle, Jesus taught, “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). After the account of Lazarus, John turns to the final week of Jesus’ life, which began with Mary anointing Jesus’ feet as a token of His burial (see John 12:1–9; see also JST, John 12:7).

Prayerfully study John 11–12and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 125–26, 132, 141–42.

  • “The Last Week of the Savior’s Life,” 288 in this manual.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for John 11–12.

John 11:1–17. Jesus Christ has power over death.

(20–25 minutes)

Ask students:

  • How would you feel if you were deathly ill in a distant town, and when your parents learned about your illness they waited two days before they came?

  • Read John 11:1–6. Why didn’t Jesus go immediately to Bethany when He received word that Lazarus was ill?

  • Read John 11:4, 11, 15. According to these verses, why did Jesus permit Lazarus to die?

  • Read John 11:39–40. Why did Jesus wait so long to perform this miracle, when He knew what He was going to do all along?

For insights on this question, see the commentary for John 11:1–46in The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles (pp. 125–26). In addition, Elder Bruce R. McConkie gives two reasons:

“Why this studied buildup, this centering of attention upon one of the mightiest miracles of his ministry? 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, 1:530–31).

Ask: How would the attention on this miracle affect unbelievers? (It would leave them without excuse for rejecting Jesus as the Son of God.)

Read the following statement by Elder James E. Talmage:

“No question as to the actual death of Lazarus could be raised, for his demise had been witnessed, his body had been prepared and buried in the usual way, and he had lain in the grave four days. At the tomb, when he was called forth, there were many witnesses, some of them prominent Jews, many of whom were unfriendly to Jesus and who would have readily denied the miracle had they been able. God was glorified and the divinity of the Son of Man was vindicated in the result” (Jesus the Christ, 496).

Hold up a chicken egg and ask:

  • Which came first, the chicken or the egg? (Explain that this question has been long debated and not conclusively answered.)

  • In spiritual matters, what comes first, signs or faith?

  • Why might unbelievers who witnessed the raising of Lazarus continue to disbelieve after such a sign?

  • What signs support a belief in Jesus Christ today?

Read and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 63:9–12to help students understand that signs do not produce faith but are the result of faith. Ask: What qualities does a person need to develop to acquire faith?

Bear testimony of the signs around us that, if viewed through the eyes of faith, will build us spiritually.

John 11. The raising of Lazarus was a type of Jesus’ death and Resurrection.

(30–35 minutes)

Have students imagine that they have traveled back in time five hundred years. Ask:

  • How would you explain to a person of that time how an electric lightbulb works? (Have one or two students try.)

  • Would it be easier to demonstrate if you had taken a battery-operated flashlight along with you?

  • Would it be easier for people to understand the doctrine of the Resurrection if they saw Lazarus being brought back to life?

Point out to students that Lazarus was not resurrected but brought back to mortality. However, this miracle does show that Jesus has power over death. Have students read John 11:21–26, and ask:

  • What principle was Jesus trying to communicate to Martha? (see vv. 25–26).

  • What could Jesus do to illustrate His power over death?

  • How is the raising of Lazarus like the Resurrection of Jesus Christ?

  • How is it different? (Lazarus would suffer death again. A resurrected body does not.)

Consider reading the following statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

“By faith the dead are sometimes raised, meaning that the spirit is called back to inhabit again the mortal body. (3 Ne. 7:19; 19:4; 4 Ne. 5; 1 Kings 17:17–23; Matt. 9:18–26; Mark 5:21–43; Luke 7:11–17, 22; 8:41–56; John 11:1–46; Acts 9:36–43; 20:9–12.) Such persons pass through the natural or temporal death twice. In due course, also, all men will be raised from the dead and live in an immortal state. (Alma 11:41; 12:8.)” (Mormon Doctrine, 185–86).

Explain to students that the raising of Lazarus serves as a type of the Resurrection of Christ. (If you did not use the teaching suggestion for John 6[p. 114], you might want to review with students that “types” are symbols that occur throughout the scriptures to teach us about the Savior. Read and discuss with students Mosiah 3:15and Moses 6:63.) Give the accompanying chart to students as a handout, leaving the “Similarities” column blank. Have them read the scriptures in the other columns and fill in the blanks. When they have finished, discuss their findings.

Close by singing “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” (Hymns, no. 136).

John 12:1–11. Our highest priority should be to love God.

(20–25 minutes)

Bring to class one of the most cherished gifts that you have received. Explain the importance and meaning of this gift. Ask students:

  • What was the best gift you ever gave to someone you loved?

  • What makes this gift better than others you have given?

Explain that a gift’s value often cannot be equated with money. Ask: What makes a gift most valuable? (The thought and love that goes into the gift; the extent to which the gift honors another or helps satisfy a need.)

Have students read John 12:1–9looking for the value of Mary’s offering. Read the following statement by Elder James E. Talmage:

“To anoint the head of a guest with ordinary oil was to do him honor; to anoint his feet also was to show unusual and signal regard; but the anointing of head and feet with spikenard, and in such abundance, was an act of reverential homage rarely rendered even to kings. Mary’s act was an expression of adoration; it was the fragrant outwelling of a heart overflowing with worship and affection” (Jesus the Christ, 512).

Discuss the worth of Mary’s action.

  • Why did Judas Iscariot not value Mary’s offering as much as Mary did?

  • What do we learn about Mary from this incident?

  • What do we learn about Judas?

  • How did Jesus react to Mary’s gift?

  • In your opinion, what was the worth of Mary’s gift?

Invite students to think about their gift again. Ask:

  • How do we decide what a gift is worth?

  • How is the worth the world puts on gifts different from the worth the Lord puts on gifts?

  • What gifts that we give to the Lord might be misunderstood and underestimated by others?

  • What gifts does the Lord offer us that many in the world misunderstand?

  • Why does the Church spend so much in time, energy, and resources on building temples?

  • Why can’t the worth of the work we do in temples be expressed in money?

  • What kind of thought, sacrifice, and love go into building and worshiping in temples?

  • What is the greatest gift God offers us? (see D&C 14:7).

  • What are the most valuable gifts we can offer our Savior in return?

Encourage students to be more aware of the true value of gifts they give and receive.