God of Miracles – Week Six – Leaders’ Guide
VIDEO: Show tonight’s video here: Week Six Group Video
ICEBREAKER: If you could meet a celebrity that passed away, who would it be? What would you want to know about them?
[Q] Briefly discuss the message from Sunday.
[Q] Name one thing that stood out to you from Sunday’s message.
[Q] Is there one question from Sunday’s message that you would like to ask or discuss?
[Q] Pastor Tim reminded us that the Cross is God saying: “I’d rather die than live without you.” The Cross is a sign of the lengths God will go to save us from our sin & brokenness. It reminds us of that FORGIVENESS comes at a great price. What is your response to hearing this?
[Q] Where do you need to declare “not my will, but Your will” in your life today?
APPLY THE BIBLE:
Read together John 11: 1-44.
The disciples, Thomas in particular, had feared that returning to Judea would lead to certain death for Jesus (11:8, 16), and they were right. Jesus’ return to bring Lazarus back to life leads directly to his own death in Jerusalem. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep (10:11, 15).
Background on John 11: 1-44
This passage is Jesus’ 7th sign, the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This comes at a difficult time in Jesus’ ministry. In chapter 10, Jesus is starting to reveal that He is actually not just a Jewish teacher or a potential military Messiah, but that He is actually God Himself! This was such a shock for Jews living in the Judean area that they picked up stones to try to kill Him. So Jesus retreats to Galilee only to hear the difficult news that His friend Lazarus is sick. For Jesus to heal Lazarus, He has to go close to Jerusalem in the same area where they tried to stone him. Jesus is starting to go back to Jerusalem where eventually He will be crucified.
[Q] What stuck out to you as you read? What seemed hard to understand?
[Q] Why do you think Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother is sick?
[Q] How do you think Jesus feel about Lazarus, Martha and Mary?
[Q] What is Jesus’ response when he hears that Lazarus is sick? How do you respond when you hear Jesus’ answer?
[Q] Read verse 4. What do you think Jesus means when he says: “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” What can we learn from Jesus’ actions?
[Q] How can Jesus’ response to Martha and Mary’s request make us reflect on the way we pray?
[Q] After two days, Jesus tells his disciples they are going back to Judea. Knowing what you do from Chapter 10, why do you think the disciples were so shocked about going back to Judea?
[Q] Imagine how Mary and Martha felt. They had sent Jesus a message, and hadn’t heard back. They didn’t even know if He was coming or not to help them. Have you ever felt that way — that you may not be sure if Jesus heard you or that he would respond to you? Share with your group.
Many Jews believed that the soul remained near the body for three days after death in the hope of returning to it. By four days, all hope would be gone, Lazarus would be irrevocably dead. Jesus knew that raising Lazarus from the dead would be perceived as a far greater miracle than healing a sick man, even from a distance, as he had already done with the official’s son (John 4:50–53).
Jesus was at work bringing God’s rule and reign to earth. He alludes to this when He says: “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.” John 11:9
C.G. Kruse says this about the following verse:
The Jewish day was reckoned from sunrise to sunset, and night from sunset to sunrise. The 24-hour period was divided roughly into 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. One who goes about in the day does not stumble, because he has light. The one who walks about in the night stumbles, because ‘he has no light’. Jesus regarded the period of his ministry as the ‘day’ (9:4), and during the day he would accomplish his Father’s purpose without stumbling, i.e. without being deflected by reminders of previous attempts by ‘the Jews’ to stone him, or because of the possibility that they would try to do so again if he returned to Judea. Despite his disciples’ fears, then, Jesus was determined to go into Judea, in his own time, to respond to the request of Mary and Martha.
[Q] Jesus must have felt some fear at the prospect of going back to Judea, but He did not let His fear keep Him from His purpose. What are some of your fears and anxieties that keep you from trusting fully in Christ’s purposes for you? How do you respond to these fears?
[Q] Why do you think Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was sleeping and that He was going to Bethany to wake him? Was He just using a euphemism, if so, why would He? Do you think Jesus was trying to elevate their viewpoint — trying to get them to think from the natural to the spiritual? What do you think?
[Q] Read vs. 17-20. Why did Martha and Mary respond the way they did when they heard Jesus was coming?
[Q] Whose response do you relate to more? Martha’s or Mary’s? Why?
[Q] Read verses 21-27. Have someone in your group summarize the conversation between Martha and Jesus. What do we learn about Martha’s faith in this conversation?
[Q] Jesus tells Martha that the one who believes in Him will live even if they die. What is He helping her to see? Do you believe this? How can you experience this Resurrection?
Read verses 32-37. In verse 35 find the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.”The Scriptures tell us that Jesus is a man that is well acquainted with grief. Scholar NT Wright puts it this way:
Jesus bursts into tears at the moment when he sees Mary, and all the Judaeans with her, in tears. ‘He has borne our griefs’, said the prophet, ‘and carried our sorrows’ (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus doesn’t sweep into the scene (as we might have supposed, and as later Christians inventing such a story would almost certainly have told us) and declare that tears are beside the point, that Lazarus is not dead, only asleep (see Mark 5:39). Even though, as his actions and words will shortly make clear, Jesus has no doubt what he will do, and what his Father will do through him, there is no sense of triumphalism, of someone coming in smugly with the secret formula that will show how clever he is. There is, rather, the man of sorrows, acquainted with our grief and pain, sharing and bearing it to the point of tears. – NT Wright John for Everyone, Part 2
[Q] Does it comfort you to know that Jesus weeps with us in our pain? Why or why not? Have you experienced His love and comfort in your grief? Would you be willing to share with the Group?
[Q] Look at verses 38-44. Jesus commands that the stone be moved, when Martha objects because of the smell Jesus asks her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Then Martha and Mary experienced the glory of God with the resurrection of their brother from the dead! How did Jesus bring glory to God in this situation?
New Testament scholar NT Wright makes an interesting point about this section of Scripture. He says:
John doesn’t have Jesus’ answer to [Martha], except with an oblique comment: if she believes, she will see God’s glory. Somehow, what he is going to do will achieve [displaying the glory of God]. But the question remains: what has happened to Lazarus’s body? Will it have started to decay?
The other unexplained bit of evidence is what Jesus says when they take the stone away. He doesn’t pray that he will now have the power to raise Lazarus. He thanks the father that he has heard him. And he adds an odd little extra sentence about wanting to show the people around that they should believe in him.
[Q] How do we put these two bits of evidence together and make sense of them?
[Q] Dr. Wright is saying that Jesus was actually praying the entire time for the Resurrection of Lazarus! Spending multiple days praying and then seeing God move as a result of those prayers. Are there places in your life where you are puzzled at what God is doing in your life? How can you set aside dedicated time to seek Jesus to ask you to show you how these pieces will come together?
[Q] In this story, we saw that Jesus’ delay in coming was not a denial of what Mary and Martha had asked for, but to demonstrate God’s goodness and glory! Think of the needs in your life. Where do you think you need to trust that God’s delay is not His denial?
[Q] What are some other scenarios that you think God is delaying His answer before He fully answers your request?
[Q] Like Martha, running to Jesus with her doubts, questions and pain, what do you need to bring to Jesus today?
Is there a Lazarus in your life? Is there a situation or a circumstance in your life that just seems dead and hopeless? Martha and Mary told Jesus to “Come and See” the tomb. What do you need Jesus to come and see? Where does He need to bring the miraculous to your life? Take some time to lift all of those situations and circumstances to God.
CHANCE TO SERVE:
Are you and your Group Members part of our Sunday Dream Team? There are many opportunities for you to get involved every week. Check out the Dream Team page on our Website and encourage one another to use your spiritual gifts to help others draw closer to Jesus Christ!
Mary and Martha were essential part of Jesus’ ministry throughout his life. Today we saw Martha’s bold faith in the face of pain and confusion, but in this section on digging deeper, we’ll take a look at her sister Mary who chose to lovingly contemplate before Jesus.
Read John 12: 1-8.
[Q] When is this dinner taking place? Why is that significant?
[Q] Where are Martha and Lazarus?
Read verse. 3. Mary gave to Jesus an extravagant worship gift. Craig Keener explains:
The “pound” (NASB) or “pint” (NIV) may have been about twelve ounces. A flask would normally contain not more than an ounce, so Mary is tremendously extravagant here.
It was customary to anoint the heads of important guests, but a host would provide only water for their feet. – Craig Keener The IVP Bible Background Commentary.
What Mary was doing was worshipping Jesus.
[Q] How did other people respond?
[Q] What did Judas fail to understand when he objected to Mary’s action?
[Q] What can we learn from Mary’s act of worship?
[Q] Both Mary and Martha gave extravagant worship to Jesus: Mary by being with and contemplating Jesus; Martha by doing and serving. How do you lean towards your worship of Jesus?
Several years ago, Liquid Church did a series called Spiritual Pathways. In it we described a few pathways that people have to best worship Jesus. Here is the list:
Naturalists — love God best outdoors. These people worship in the midst of God’s creation. They celebrate His majesty and discover spiritual truths through nature.
Sensates — love God through their senses. These people worship through sensual experiences — sights (like art), sounds (music), smells, and more.
Traditionalists — love God through religious ritual and symbols. These people worship through traditions and sacraments of the Church. They believe structure, repetition, and rigidity, like weekly liturgy, leads to a deeper understanding of God and faith.
Ascetics — love God in solitude and simplicity. These people worship through prayer and quiet time, and the absence of all outside noise and distraction.
Activists — love God through confrontation, fighting for godly principles and values. They worship through their dedication to and participation in God’s truth about social and evangelistic causes.
Caregivers — love God by serving others, and worship by giving of themselves. They may nurse the sick and disabled, “adopt” a prisoner, donate time at a shelter, etc.
Enthusiasts — love God through mystery and celebration. These people worship with outward displays of passion and enthusiasm. They love God with gusto!
Contemplatives — love God through adoration. These people worship by their attentiveness, deep love, and intimacy. They have an active prayer life.
Intellectuals — love God with their mind and their hearts are opened up to a new attentiveness when they understand something new about God. These people worship through intense study, apologetics, and intellectual pursuits of their faith.
[Q] Look over the list of different spiritual pathways. Pick one or two that resonate with you the most. Share with your group.