The Gospel of John
(James J. Barker)

Lesson 29


(John 11:1-11)


1.    This wonderful miracle is not recorded in the Synoptic Gospels.

2.    As chapter 11 of the Gospel of John begins, our Lord is told that his good friend Lazarus is sick (11:1-3).

3.    “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick” (John 11:3; cf. 11:5, 35, 36).  If we could only get a hold of this – the love of God.  It would revolutionize our church.  It would compel us out into the streets and sidewalks of Elmont with a burning desire to win souls (cf. Rom. 5:8).

4.    We see here that our Lord waited around a couple of days before going to see Lazarus (11:4-7).

5.    Our Lord could have prevented Lazarus’ sickness or He could have healed him from a distance, but He chose not to.

6.    He allowed Lazarus to lay in the grave for four days (11:17, 39), and then He raised him from the dead (11:38-44).  This is one of the greatest miracles in the Bible, and one that could not be denied by the Jewish leaders who were determined to kill our Lord (John 11:8, 47-53).

7.    This chapter can be divided into four:

(1)   The occasion of the miracle (the background, vss. 1-16).

(2)   The approach to the miracle (the events leading up to it, vss. 17-32).

(3)   The performance of the miracle (vss. 33-44).

(4)   The consequences of the miracle (vss. 45-57).

8.    This is a good, simple outline, but I have divided my message into three parts and will try to expound the whole chapter tonight.



1.    F.B. Meyer gives several reasons why our Lord allows Christians to suffer and why He waited two days before He went to see Lazarus (11:6).

(1) Divine love permits pain. “Suffering robs us of proud self-reliance, and casts us in an agony at the feet of God.  Suffering prunes away the leaves in which we rejoiced, that the sap may find its way into fruit.  Suffering isolates the soul, shutting it away from all creature aid, and surrounding it by a wall of fire.”

(2) “How soon does pain drive us to the Saviour!” (cf. 11:3).

(3) “Pain often reveals some unrealized side of the Saviour’s character.”  Martha and Mary would not have known our Lord as the Resurrection and the Life, if Lazarus had not died. 

2.    We don’t often understand why our loved ones are taken in sickness and death.  Our hearts are often broken when we see friends and family members sick unto death. 

3.    And we sometimes cry out, “Lord, why?”  We cannot understand.

4.    And our hearts are broken with sick parents, sick children, sick husbands and wives, and sick friends. 

5.    There are some religious racketeers, who are nothing but crooks and con-artists, and they teach that it is never God’s will for us to get sick.  And they claim to have the power to heal. 

6.    The reason these charlatans get such a big following is simple: people today are not reading the Bible (cf. II Cor. 12:7-10; Gal. 4:13; Phil. 2:25-27; II Tim. 4:20).

7.    Our Lord could have healed Lazarus right away. You will recall the nobleman in John 4 who came to Jesus and said, “Sir, come down ere my child die” (John 4:49).  Our Lord said to him, “Go thy way; thy son liveth” (4:50). And the Bible says that when this nobleman got back home he found out his son was healed the very same hour that Jesus said unto him, “Thy son liveth” (4:53).

8.    Jesus could have healed Lazarus right away but He chose not to (John 11:4; cf. 11:37). God the Father used this sickness as an opportunity to glorify God the Son (11:4).

9.    This was an opportunity for people (even the disciples) to believe that Jesus was the Son of God (11:14, 15).

10. After our Lord raised Lazarus from the dead, many people were saved (John 12:1, 2, 9-11).



1.    Our Lord had already referred several times to the fact that He would soon die and be raised from the dead (John 10:17, 18).

2.    He also said that there is an appointed hour for every man to die and be raised from the dead (John 5:28, 29).

3.    Will you be part of this first resurrection, “the resurrection of life” (John 5:29), or will you be part of the second resurrection, “the resurrection of damnation” (5:29; cf. Daniel 12:2; Rev. 20:5, 6, 14, 15)?

4.    Our Lord assured Martha that her brother Lazarus would rise again (11:23). Martha understood this but not in the way Jesus meant it (11:24; cf. Dan. 12:1-3). Jesus meant – Right now, “Thy brother shall rise again” (John 11:23).

5.    Technically speaking, Lazarus was raised from the dead, but he was not resurrected.  He did not receive a brand new, glorified body.  He eventually died again and went to heaven. But his body is still in the grave waiting for the resurrection when he will be raised and will be given a new, immortal, incorruptible resurrection body (cf. I Cor. 15:42-44, 51-58).

6.    Then our Lord says one of the most beautiful statements in the Bible (11:25,26).  {This is the epitaph of George Washington.}

7.    Jesus not only gives eternal life, He is “the life” (John 11:25; cf. 14:6).

8.    The Bible says those who believe (put their trust) in Jesus Christ have everlasting life.  Jesus said to Martha, “Believest thou this?” (11:26b).

9.    Martha’s answer proves she knew the Lord.  She used three different titles for Jesus (11:27).



1.    The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” The prophet Isaiah said, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

2.    Let me say a few words about John 11:35.  Certainly this Scripture testifies of our Lord’s love for Lazarus (cf. 11:36).  And it certainly indicates that our Lord sorrowed and mourned with Lazarus’ two sisters.

3.    However, another important reason why I think Jesus wept is our Lord knows what sin has done to the human race.  Sin has brought sickness and death.  Every time we walk past a hospital or a graveyard we are reminded of the consequences of sin.

4.    This is one of the greatest miracles in the Bible.  Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth” and he that was dead came forth (11:43, 44).

5.    It has been said many, many times by many different preachers that if our Lord hadn’t said, “Lazarus, come forth,” all the graveyards for miles around would have emptied out.

6.    Jesus performed this miracle in order that people would believe He was the Messiah sent by God (11:42; cf. 11:15).

7.    But despite all the evidence, some refused to believe (11:45, 46).

8.    And so it is today.  No one who has ever examined the evidence has ever come to the conclusion that Jesus is not the Messiah, the Son of God.

9.    Over 200 years ago, two Englishmen decided to attack the Christian faith. Gilbert West set out to prove that Jesus Christ never rose from the dead.  His good friend, Lord Lyttleton, was to prove that Saul of Tarsus was never converted to Christianity.

10. Some time later they met to discuss their findings.  Both were surprised to discover that they had each come independently to similar conclusions.  And both had converted to Christianity.

11. Lyttleton had discovered that Saul of Tarsus was genuinely saved on the road to Damascus.  And Gilbert West had discovered that the evidence pointed unmistakably to the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

12. West wrote a book about his research called, Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and it was published in 1747.

13. Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).   Do you know the truth?  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

14. Notice our Lord said He is “the way, the truth, and the life…” (cf. John 11:25, 26).  “Believest thou this?”



1.    Have you received eternal life?

2.    Have you passed from death unto life? (John 5:24).

<< Back                                       Next >>