As a group, read the following Scriptures and answer the questions below.
o John 11:1-44 (entire chapter)
1. Why do you think Jesus waited before going to Mary and Martha?
2. Have you ever had a time in your life when you desperately prayed for God’s help but God chose not to give you what you asked for?
3. What do you think God’s purposes are in these situations?
Now, think back through the story, and put yourself in the role of Lazarus. Instead of focusing on Lazarus’ physical sickness and death, though, now focus on your spiritual sickness and death before you became a Christian.
4. How is the story about Lazarus’ resurrection like your own story of spiritual rebirth?
5. What insights does this give you about the story?
Facilitator Notes for Large Group Debrief
o Like Lazarus, we were dead, but our sickness which led to death was spiritual rather than physical.
o Jesus waited until we were aware of our deadness before He brought us into life everlasting.
o Releasing Lazarus from the grave was a visual representation of what Jesus was about to do for all of us.
o When Jesus rolled away the stone from His own grave in the garden, He rolled away the stone for all of humanity. Death could no longer hold us!
o The stone that blocked our way to new life has been rolled away.
o Jesus calls our name and invites us to come out to enjoy new life with Him.
o Unfortunately, many of us chose to stay in our tombs rather than respond to Jesus’ call for us to come out.
o As long as we stayed in our graves, we were still dead in our sin.
o But for those of us who responded when Jesus called our names, we have new life!
o But that’s not the entire story of how we got free, because even though we had been freed from the power of death, we, like Lazarus, were still bound in our grave clothes.
o Satan had wrapped us up pretty tightly.
o Many of us emerged from the grave, but we weren’t truly free yet. The sins and scars of our past still held us. We wanted to be free to enjoy the life that Jesus promised, but we didn’t know how to separate ourselves from those grave clothes.
o Some of us are still bound today. We still don’t know how to get free of our past. What we did or what was done to us prevents us from experiencing the full joy of our new freedom.
o Like the burial custom practiced in Lazarus’ time, Satan tied our hands and our feet, wrapped us in grave clothes and veiled our faces.
o He tied our hands, because it’s with our hands that we do God’s WORK.
o He tied our feet, because it’s with our feet that we WALK with the Lord.
o He veiled our faces, because it’s with our faces that we bear WITNESS to God’s glory.*
o Many of us are alive in Christ but still tied up in sin, guilt, shame, pain, or ignorance that keeps us from our WORK, our WALK and our WITNESS with and for God.
o It sometimes takes a long time to recognize our freedom, and we need the help of the Church to get free. We need our brothers and sisters in Christ to do for us what those who witnessed Lazarus raised from the dead did for Lazarus. We need our brothers and sisters to “Take off (our) grave clothes and let (us) go!”
o We can’t get free ourselves. This is part of the role of the Church.
o So, as we see other brothers and sisters emerge from the grave, we need to step forward and help them in whatever way God gives us. We need to get them free from their grave clothes.
o And if you are still bound and don’t know how to get free, don’t try to do it alone. Turn to your brothers and sisters in Christ and to Christian professionals who can help you to cut those bounds and walk free in Christ.
* There are at least three important veils in Scripture. Moses wore his veil to hide God’s glory when he came down from the mountain, because the sinful people couldn’t stand the bright holiness of God. But when Jesus died, the veil in the temple was ripped from top to bottom because all could now have access to a holy God through Christ. Satan wants to keep us veiled like Lazarus, but it’s no longer necessary to hide God’s glory.