Going Deeper… (John 11:17-27)

Here are some questions based on last Sunday’s sermon text (John 11:17-27), in case they’re helpful to you for personal growth or group discussion…

  • [21-22] As she tries to cope with her grief, it seems Martha gets a little passive-aggressive, probably seeking to emotionally manipulate Jesus into giving her what she wants most. Her preoccupation with Lazarus is interrupting and distorting her relationship with Jesus. What are some good things in your life, that you’re even praying about, that might be getting in the way of your relationship with Jesus? What are some ways in which you might be seeking to manipulate God into giving you what you want? Why do we get so attached to such things that they interrupt/distort our relationship with Jesus? What is the Gospel solution to this problem?
  • [23] This not a standard platitude as heard at many funerals, like, “You’ll see your loved one again someday.” Jesus is about to restore Martha’s brother to life, that very day—even though Lazarus has become something of an idol for her. Is he just giving in to her emotional manipulation and giving her what she wants most? Might she interpret these events that way? When God gives you good things that have become idols for you, does that mean you can assume that he must be okay with your idolatry? What other explanations might there be?
  • [24] Martha has misunderstood Jesus, but does recite some good theology about the future resurrection as a comfort to herself in the wake of her brother’s death. How can such recitation be a good thing to do? How can this be a bad thing to do?
  • [25-26] Jesus doesn’t just say that he grants resurrection and life, but that he is the resurrection and the life. He himself is the resurrection and the life of believers, because of his relationship with the Father on our behalf. By saying this, he is correcting Martha’s theology, redirecting her attention (and ours) to himself as central, as the one from whom the benefits of salvation cannot be abstracted. Is it a struggle for you to keep Jesus this central to your spiritual thoughts? Are there aspects of your Christian hopes/expectations that you can talk about without much reference to Jesus? When you share the Gospel with others, do you talk about Jesus himself most of all?