November 25, 2018 – John 11:1-57

Lesson Date: November 25, 2018

Focal Scripture Passage: John 11:1-57

AIM: To lead students to discover that Jesus is more powerful than death and to compare the raising of Lazarus to the new birth, and to commit themselves to telling someone this week about their new life in Christ.


Before class: Read the notes on John 11:1-57 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. If you plan to use the second option for your introductory activity, enlist a class member to share his or her personal testimony of salvation. Try to enlist someone whose life demonstrated a dramatic change as a result of salvation.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Ask: “What was the most amazing, incredible, or hard-to-believe thing you ever saw or experienced?” Allow time for several responses. Members may name events such as the birth of a baby, the majesty of the ocean or mountains, the night sky full of beautiful stars and planets, or widespread destruction caused by natural disasters, warfare, or terroristic acts. Ask: “Did you tell anyone about that amazing sight, or did you keep it to yourself?” Comment that we usually rush to tell others about things that are amazing or out of the ordinary.

– OR –

Call on the previously enlisted class member to share his or her personal testimony. Comment on the change that took place in that person’s life. Ask the person if he or she told anyone else about the drastic change Jesus had produced in his or her life.

Tell the class today’s lesson is about someone rising from the dead, but it is not about the resurrection of Jesus. Today’s lesson tells about when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Gospel of John.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 20:31.
    • Ask: “Why did John write this account of Jesus’ life?” (so his readers would believe that Jesus is the Son of God and have everlasting life by trusting in Him).
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jesus is the Good shepherd and His followers are His sheep).
    • Ask if any volunteers would recite last week’s memory verses (John 10:10 and 10:30).
  2. Lazarus Got Sick and Died.
    • Read John 11:1-5.
    • Locate Bethany on the map.
    • Explain that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were very good friends of Jesus.
    • Ask: “What was wrong with Lazarus?” (he was sick).
    • Tell the class that Lazarus’ sisters sent a messenger to tell Jesus that Lazarus was sick.
    • Ask: “What do you think Mary and Martha wanted Jesus to do?” (come and heal their brother).
    • Ask: “According to verse 4, why did Jesus say Lazarus was sick?” (to glorify God).
    • Read John 11:6-16.
    • Ask: “What did Jesus do when He heard that His close friend was sick?” (stayed where He was for two days).
    • Tell the students that according to John 10:40, Jesus and His disciples were at Bethabara, about twenty miles away (locate Bethabara on the map).
    • Tell the class that Thomas’ statement in verse 16 refers to the danger mentioned in verse 8. Thomas was willing to go with Jesus back into Judea, even if it meant his own death.
    • Ask: “According to verse 15, why did Jesus wait two days before starting His journey toward His sick friend?” (so Lazarus would die and He could strengthen His disciples’ faith through raising him from the dead).
    • Stress the fact that Jesus was willing to let Lazarus suffer without lifting a finger to help.
    • Ask: “Could Jesus have healed Lazarus from a distance?” (yes, He did just that with the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-54).
    • Tell the class this teaches us that Jesus is more interested in our ultimate good and in glorifying God than in our immediate comfort.
    • Summarize: Lazarus got sick, so his sisters sent for Jesus to come heal him. Instead, Jesus delayed coming until Lazarus was already dead. He did this to glorify God and strengthen the faith of His disciples.
  3. Jesus Went to Bethany.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 11:17-32.
    • Concerning verse 17, explain that Dr. Warren Wiersbe proposed the following timeline for the four days since Lazarus’ death: “Jesus was at Bethabara, about twenty miles from Bethany. If the man had traveled quickly, without any delay, he could have made the trip in one day. The schedule of events would look something like this, allowing one day for travel:

Day 1 – The messenger comes to Jesus (Lazarus dies).

Day 2 – The messenger returns to Bethany.

Day 3 – Jesus waits another day, then departs.

Day 4 – Jesus arrives in Bethany.”[i]

    • Explain that according to verse 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem. Jesus returned to the very doorstep of Jerusalem, despite the Jews’ intention to kill Him.
    • Tell the class that because of the nearness, many Jews came from Jerusalem to comfort Mary and Martha (verse 19). Jesus would perform His most spectacular miracle with a great crowd of witnesses.
    • Ask: “What did Martha say to Jesus in verse 21?” (If you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus tell her in verse 23?” (Your brother will rise again).
    • Ask: “What did Jesus say about Himself in verse 25?” (I AM the resurrection, and the life).
    • Ask: “What did Martha say about Jesus in verse 27?” (that she believed He was the Christ, the Son of God).
    • Ask: “What did Mary say to Jesus in verse 32?” (If you had been here my brother wouldn’t have died).
    • Read John 11:33-37.
    • Ask: “How much did Jesus love Lazarus and his sisters? How do you know this?” (very much, as evidenced by His deep grief).
    • Tell the students Romans 12:15 tells us to show our love and compassion for others in the same way.
    • Summarize: Jesus and His disciples went to Bethany. Both of Lazarus’ sisters asked Jesus why He had not come sooner. Jesus empathized with the grief of the sisters.
  1. Jesus Raised Lazarus from the Dead.
    • Ask a volunteer to read John 11:38-45.
    • Ask: “Why did Martha protest the removal of the stone?” (Lazarus had been dead for four days so she knew his decaying body would have a foul smell).
    • Tell the class Martha had not applied what Jesus said in verses 23 and 25 to her personal situation; she didn’t realize He was going to raise her brother from the dead.
    • Ask: “According to verse 42, why did Jesus pray publicly?” (to help the observers believe that He was God’s Son, doing God’s will).
    • Ask: “Why did Jesus call Lazarus by name?” (so all the other corpses in the cemetery wouldn’t rise along with Lazarus).
    • Ask: “What happened when Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth?” (he arose and came out of the tomb).
    • Ask: “What was the response of those who saw this great miracle?” (many of the Jews believed in Jesus).
    • Tell the students this is last of the seven sign miracles John described in his gospel. The reason he included those seven miracles was so his readers would believe in Jesus.
    • Read John 11:46-57.
    • Ask: “What was the response of the Jewish religious leaders to this incredible miracle?” (they began planning to kill Jesus).
    • Tell the class from that day on the chief priests and Pharisees began planning Jesus’ death.
    • Summarize: Jesus miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead, proving that He is more powerful than death. Many people believed in Him after seeing or hearing about this miracle, but the Jewish religious leaders began plotting to kill Jesus.
  2. The Raising of Lazarus and the New Birth.
    • Draw a vertical line down the center of the marker board or chalkboard, creating two columns.
    • Write “Lazarus Raised” and “The New Birth” as headings for the two columns.
    • Tell the students there are many similarities between the raising of Lazarus and the new birth (our experience of salvation).
    • Ask if they saw anything in this miracle that is similar to what happens when a person is saved.
    • After some responses, write the following under the “Lazarus Raised” column:
      • Lazarus was dead.
      • Lazarus was incapable of action.
      • Lazarus was decayed or corrupt.
      • Jesus cared about the dead man and those who loved him.
      • Jesus called the dead man by name.
      • Jesus gave life to
      • Lazarus was loosed from the grave and the trappings of death.
      • Those who saw the miracle quickly told others about it.
      • After receiving new life, Lazarus fellowshipped with Jesus (John 12:1-2).
      • Later, Lazarus was persecuted because Jesus had given him new life (John 12:10).
    • Tell the students that each of these elements is also true of the new birth. Explain the following points as you write each one under “The New Birth” column:
      • Before Jesus saved us we were spiritually dead.
      • We were incapable of action toward God.
      • We were corrupt.
      • Jesus cared about us.
      • Jesus called
      • Jesus gave life to
      • After receiving new life, we must be loosed from the sinful trappings of the world.
      • After we are saved we want to tell others about our salvation.
      • After we are saved we have fellowship with Jesus.
      • Finally, if we faithfully follow Jesus we will face persecution (2 Tim. 3:12).
    • Summarize: There are many similarities between the raising of Lazarus from the dead and our salvation.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the class’ attention to the lists on the board. Tell them one thing that is often lacking in our Christian lives is telling others about what Jesus has done for us. Remind them of the incredible, amazing, or hard-to-believe things they named in the introductory activity. When they saw or experienced those things they told others.

Tell the class those who have been saved have experienced an even greater miracle than the raising of Lazarus from the dead. We need to tell others about what Jesus has done for us. Ask them to make a commitment to the Lord to tell others about Jesus. Urge them to try to do that this week. Ask everyone to bow their head and close their eyes. Tell them to pray silently and make their personal commitments to God. Voice a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Be sure everyone present has a Sunday School Member Quarterly for the new quarter. Tell them we will continue our study of the Gospel of John during the months of December, January, and February.


[i] Be Alive, Be Transformed, Warren Wiersbe’s “Be” Series: NT, Volumes 1 & 2, © 1989 by SP Productions, Inc. Electronic version © 1995, 1996, 1997 by Parsons Technology, Inc.

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