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8. Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead (John 11:1-45)

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Main Point: Jesus has power over death.

Key Verse: Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" - John 11:25-26

Props: Strips of white cloth, spices (such as cloves), bottle of perfume


Say: What if you were at school, and another student came up and said, “Give me your math book.” Would you give him your book? Probably not. But what if he came up and said, “The teacher said I need to collect everyone’s math book.” Then you would be much more likely to give him your book. Ask: What is the difference? The teacher said... Say: In the second approach, the student was speaking with the authority of the teacher. That is very different than when your classmate speaks on his own. The Bible says that when Jesus taught, people were amazed because He taught with authority (Mark 1:22). He was speaking the mind of the Father in heaven and people knew His teaching was different than any other teaching (John 14:24).

Jesus taught about God, Himself, and the kingdom of God. He offered new life to anyone who believed in Him. If anyone had any doubt that He was God, the event we are about to study would certainly prove that Jesus is God.


Last week we heard Jesus describe Himself as the Good Shepherd. He taught these things to the Jewish people in Jerusalem. Teacher: Show Jerusalem on the map. Many of the Jews who were listening became very angry that Jesus said He was One with the Father. They were so angry that they wanted to kill Jesus, so He left them. He traveled across the Jordan River. Show Perea on the map. There, He continued to teach, and more people put their trust in Him.

The Death Of Lazarus (John 11:1-16)

Say: There was a family that was very dear to Jesus. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were brother and sisters, and they all lived together in a town called Bethany. Show Bethany on the map. Jesus liked being with them very much. This family even opened their home for Jesus and His disciples (Luke 10:38). It was a comfortable place for Jesus. It was a place where Jesus and His disciples could slip off their sandals and relax.

While Jesus was teaching across the Jordan, Lazarus became very sick. Mary and Martha loved their brother very much and wanted him to get better.

So the sisters sent a message to Jesus. "Lord," they told Him, "the one You love is sick." When Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory. God's Son will receive glory because of it."

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. But after He heard Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was for two more days. - John 11:3-6

Say: The Bible says Jesus loved Lazarus and his sisters, but when Jesus heard Lazarus was really sick, He did not go to him right away. Ask: Is getting really sick a good thing or a bad thing? A bad thing. Say: It is a bad thing, but Jesus was going to turn it into a good thing. Only our all-powerful God can turn something really bad into something really good (Genesis 50:20).

Application: Mary and Martha knew that Jesus had the power to heal Lazarus. They called on the only One who could help them. Just the same, when you are worried about something that is happening in your life, cry out to Jesus. He loves you, and He has the power to help you.

After two days, Jesus told His disciples it was time to go back toward Jerusalem. His disciples were afraid to go near Jerusalem because the Jews there wanted to kill Jesus.

Note to Teacher: Jesus answered, "Aren't there 12 hours of daylight? A person who walks during the day won't trip and fall. He can see because of this world's light. But when he walks at night, he'll trip and fall. He has no light." - John 11:9-10

Jesus was saying He would be on earth for a short time, and then He would be gone from the earth. He had work to do. As long as the disciples were with Him, the Light of the world, they would be where they were supposed to be. They would not stumble.

Jesus said, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up." (John 11:11) This was a figure of speech. Lazarus had actually died, and Jesus was going to raise him from the dead. The disciples did not understand.

So then He told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your benefit, I am glad I was not there. Now you will believe. But let us go to him." - John 11:11-15

Jesus meant that His disciples’ faith needed to grow stronger. Jesus knew that a very difficult time was coming for His disciples. They needed to come to a point where they were fully committed to Him, trusting Him and willing to follow Him no matter what.

Jesus Arrives In Bethany (John 11:17-36)

Say: Back in Jesus’ day, they didn’t have fancy funeral homes. When someone died, the person’s family would wrap his or her body in strips of cloth and nice smelling spices. Teacher: Show strips of cloth and spices. You may want to pour a few drops of perfume on the cloth. Sometimes the family would also pour perfume on the body (2 Chronicles 16:14, Luke 23:56, John 19:40). Then they would place their loved one into a tomb, which was a cave-like area carved out of stone.

When Lazarus died, his sisters lovingly prepared his body and placed him in the tomb. [Note to Teacher: This is a photo of the actual tomb in which Lazarus was buried.] Then they rolled a big stone in front of the opening of the tomb. [The opening was at the top of the stairs.] By the time Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days. Many Jews had come from Jerusalem to comfort Mary and Martha.

When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him. But Mary stayed at home.

"Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "I wish You had been here! Then my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You anything You ask for."

Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

Martha answered, "I know he will rise again. This will happen when people are raised from the dead on the last day."

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

"Yes, Lord," she told Him. "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God. I believe that you are the One who was supposed to come into the world." - John 11:20-27

Ask: Did Martha have faith in Jesus? Yes. Say: She believed He was the promised Messiah, the Son of God. Martha went to get her sister. Mary ran out to see Jesus and many people followed her.

Mary reached the place where Jesus was. When she saw Him, she fell at His feet. She said, "Lord, I wish You had been here! Then my brother would not have died."

Application: Both sisters cried out to Jesus, “If only You had been here!” This was their cry of great sadness. They loved Jesus, and they knew He loved them, but at this moment they were struggling to understand why He didn’t come right away. We have all gone through difficult times when it felt like God came to our aid a little too late. Is it okay to talk to the Lord about how you feel, just as Mary and Martha did. Is it really hard to wait on the Lord when your need feels so urgent, but as we will see, He has a plan, and His timing is ALWAYS perfect.

Jesus saw (Mary) crying. He saw that the Jews who had come along with her were crying also. His spirit became very sad, and He was troubled.

"Where have you put him?" He asked.

"Come and see, Lord," they replied. - John 11:32-34

Then the Bible gives us an intimate detail about Jesus. Verse 35 says, “Jesus wept.” (NIV) Have you ever thought about God crying before? God is the all-powerful Creator of the universe, and yet He cried. Jesus cried because of His great love for His friends. Jesus didn’t cry because He would miss Lazarus; He had already told his disciples that Lazarus would not remain dead. Jesus wept because He was overwhelmed with compassion for Mary and Martha (John 11:33). Compassion is feeling what other people feel. Mary and Martha were broken-hearted that their brother had died. Jesus could feel the pain that Mary and Martha felt at that moment, and He shed real tears for them. All the people watching could see the great love that Jesus felt for this family (John 11:36).

Application: Jesus IS God, but He is not distant. One of the names of Jesus is Emmanuel. Ask: Does anyone remember what that name means? It means God with us (Matthew 1:23). Say: Jesus is with you in good times and in bad times. Jesus loves you just as much as He loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. There is NO ONE who loves you more than Jesus does (John 15:13). Jesus said, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have loved you. Now remain in My love.” (John 15:9) He has great compassion; He feels what you feel (Mark 1:41). He promises to stay with those who trust in Him (Matthew 28:20).

Note to Teacher: Certainly, Jesus knew that Lazarus had to die in order for God to receive glory. He understood the necessity of this death, but still He wept. It would seem that Jesus wept because those He loved had to suffer in order for God to be glorified. This is very similar to the scene in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus bent His knee in submission to the Father’s will, but His soul was overwhelmed with anguish over the suffering He and those who loved Him would go through (Mark 14:34-36). We should take comfort in knowing that we do not have to face every trial with a stiff upper lip. It is okay to say, “Lord, I will accept Your will because it will bring You glory, but I may cry along the way.”

Jesus Raises Lazarus From The Dead (John 11:37-44)

But some of (the Jews) said, "He opened the eyes of the blind man. Couldn't He have kept this man from dying?" - John 11:37

Ask: Could Jesus have kept Lazarus from dying? Yes! Say: The Bible has many stories of Jesus healing sick people (Matthew 8:3, 9:22). So why didn’t Jesus just heal Lazarus instead of letting it go this far? I want you to pay really close attention to find out why Jesus allowed Lazarus to die.

Jesus, along with Mary, Martha, and all those who had come to mourn the death of Lazarus, went to the tomb. Imagine the curiosity of all the people. It was as if a celebrity had shown up at the funeral. They must have wondered what Jesus would do next. Can you hear the buzz of all the people whispering about what Jesus might do?

"Take away the stone," He said.

The people would have gasped at the thought of this! After a person dies, their spirit leaves their body, and their body begins to decay. A decaying body has a terrible odor.

"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad smell. Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days."

Then Jesus said, "Didn't I tell you that if you believed, you would see God's glory?"

So they took away the stone.

Then Jesus looked up. He said, "Father, I thank You for hearing Me. I know that You always hear Me. But I said this for the benefit of the people standing here. I said it so they will believe that You sent Me."

Then Jesus called in a loud voice. He said, "Lazarus, come out!"

The dead man came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of linen. A cloth was around his face.

Jesus said to them, "Take off the clothes he was buried in and let him go."

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did. So they put their faith in Him. - John 11:39-45

Ask: Now, who can tell me why Jesus allowed Lazarus to die instead of healing him when he was sick? Listen for answers. Say: Jesus allowed Lazarus to die so that He could reveal something about Himself that these people did not know. Jesus had healed many sick people, but until now, almost no one knew he could raise the dead. God had promised that the Messiah would have victory over death (Isaiah 25:8). After Jesus raised Lazarus, there could be NO QUESTION that Jesus was who He said He was - the Son of God. Even before Jesus went to Lazarus, Jesus told His disciples that this event was for God’s glory: so that God would be made known. And that is exactly what happened!

Again, Jesus used something people could see to explain something they could not see. It was an AMAZING miracle for Jesus to raise a man from the dead. Even today, with all of our medical breakthroughs and advances in science, no one can bring someone back to life after they have been dead for days. But as incredible as this physical miracle was, Jesus had the power to do something even more amazing! He could give spiritual life to everyone who was dead in their sins (Romans 5:10).

Application: The Bible says that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Your sin brings death, but God sent Jesus to conquer death. God loves you too much to leave you in your helpless sinful condition. When you choose to put your faith in Jesus, He takes away your sin, gives you new life, and you will live in heaven forever!

PPT CUE: Verse

But God loves us deeply. He is full of mercy. So He gave us new life because of what Christ has done. He gave us life even when we were dead in sin. God's grace has saved you. - Ephesians 2:4-5

And, have you noticed that almost every time the Bible tells us that Jesus performed a miracle, the Bible also tells us that people put their faith in Him? Jesus performed miracles so that those watching would believe in Him. Only our Lord has power over sin and death (Isaiah 25:7). Only our Lord has the power to give life (Acts 17:25). Each time Jesus gives new life to someone who believes in Him, that is an even more amazing miracle than healing someone’s body. If you have accepted the new life that Jesus offers, you are a miracle! Tell someone about the miracle Jesus has done in your life so they, too, can put their faith in Him!

PPT CUE: Key Verse

Key Verse: Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even if he dies. And those who live and believe in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" - John 11:25-26

PPT CUE: Main Point

Main Point: Jesus has power over death.

1 © 2010 All rights reserved worldwide. May be reproduced for personal, nonprofit, and non-commercial uses only. Unless otherwise noted the Scriptures taken from: Holy Bible, New International Reader’s Version, (NIrV®) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998 by International Bible Society / Used by permission of IBS-STL. All rights reserved worldwide.

Related Topics: Christology, Miracles, Children, Children's Curriculum

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