The Key to Life and Death

"Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?"

Investigative Bible Discussions by Mark Ashton


  • Have you ever had a time when you needed a friend and they did not come through? How did you feel?
  • Read John 11:1-44.

Discussion Questions

  • What can you gather about Jesus' relationship with Mary, Martha & Lazarus from this passage? (v. 3, 6, 21-2, 35)
  • How do you think they felt when Jesus waited two days to see Lazarus?
  • What are the disciples reactions to going back to Judea? (v. 8, 16)
  • Why is Jesus not as concerned?
    Note: In verse 9, "The connection of thought here is that the hours of the day are not affected by external circumstances. They are there to be used. The implication is that Jesus' hour has not come (i.e. the 12th hour) and until God wills that it should come, the only course to adopt is to go about one's mission." Donald Gutherie, The New Bible Commentary: Revised, John, Eerdmans, 1970, p. 953.
  • What do Martha and Mary's reactions to Jesus in v. 21-2 and 32 show about their knowledge of his power?
  • After Jesus tells Martha that her brother will rise, he makes a startling claim. (v. 25-6) What is the double meaning of this claim?
  • Jesus cries when he sees Mary and her friends, but he didn't when he first got news of Lazarus – Why do you think that is? If the group has trouble with this question, point them to v. 4, 15, 23, 33 & 42.
  • What does the fact that Jesus wept say about him?
  • Describe the situation as Jesus prays in v.41. i.e. what are the sights, sounds, smells? What is the mood of the people?
  • How do imagine the mood would change as Lazarus came out of the tomb?

Review Question

  • Read v. 25-26a.
  • Jesus claim and promise here are not just for Martha, but for all people at all times. Comparing your spiritual life to the story of Lazarus, where are you right now – Still in the grave? Watching the stone being rolled away? Alive but still in the grave clothes? Alive and unwrapped?