Have you ever been trapped? (Stuck in a situation, in an elevator, in a ditch, on the tarmac, in a car trunk, locked yourself out of your house, got tied up…)

What was it like? What went through your mind as you realized you were stuck?

Have you ever had to do something that made you afraid? What happened?

Read John 11:1-16

Jesus hears that his good friend Lazarus is sick, but then hangs out in the wilderness for 2 more days. Why does Jesus wait so long? (v. 4)

How do the disciples react when Jesus says, “We’re going back to Judea!”?

Why are the disciples afraid of going back? (v. 8, 16)
They think they’re going to die! People from Judea tried to kill Jesus once already, and he wants to go back?!

What is Jesus planning to do when he gets there? (v. 11)

Read John 11:17-37

John is trying to paint a picture for us. Notice how he starts this new scene:
Lazarus is really dead. He’s been dead for 4 days!
John tells us the town of Bethany is only 2 miles away from Jerusalem.
Where does Jesus get crucified? (Jerusalem)
Who is there with Mary and Martha? (Jews from Jerusalem)

John wants us to understand that Jesus is taking a really big risk. He’s hanging out with the people who will get him killed very soon, and about to do something big right in front of them.

How does Jesus’ conversation with Martha go? Is she happy with Jesus? Why?

There is a word that starts with “b” that gets repeated over and over in their conversation. What is it?

What do you think Jesus wants Martha to do? (believe!) How ‘believing’ does Martha seem?

Read John 11:38-45

What happens when Jesus approaches Lazarus’ tomb? Who gets in the way?

Why doesn’t Martha want Jesus to open the tomb?
Funny fact: When Martha warns Jesus about the smell of Lazarus’ body, the King James Version says, “He stinketh.”

Didn’t Martha tell Jesus she believes in him? She’s trying to stop Jesus from doing anything. Why is she getting in the way now?

How does Jesus respond to her? (v. 40) (Notice that word starting with “b” is used again?)

Why does Jesus choose to pray in front of everybody? (v. 42)

Putting it all together

The disciples, Martha, and Lazarus all have something in common. What do you think it might be?

They’re all bound (trapped) in some way.
How are the disciples bound? What does Jesus tell them they need to do?
(believe - they’re bound by fear - they’re afraid that they’ll be killed if they go near Jerusalem)

How is Martha bound? What does Jesus tell Martha she needs to do?
(believe - Martha is bound by disbelief - she says she believes Jesus is from God, but she has a really small idea of what God can do - she thinks death defeated Jesus)

How is Lazarus bound? What does Jesus tell Lazarus to do?

And what does he tell the people to do for Lazarus?
(Lazarus is bound by cloths - he’s ‘literally’ bound - he’s wrapped up in grave clothes)

What happens right at the end of this story when Lazarus is raised back to life? (v. 45)

What seems to be Jesus’ goal in all of this?

Jesus is trying to get people to believe not just in himself as the Messiah -- he’s trying to get people to believe in the huge plan God has. God didn’t send Jesus to be a nice example. He sent him to wreck the way the world works, to turn everything on its head, and to prove that he is really in control. (Raising Jesus from the dead is pretty good proof of how powerful God is…)

Think about your life for a moment. Is there anything you feel “bound” or “trapped” by? Is there something that you need God’s help to overcome? Is there something you find really hard to deal with? Do you think God is powerful enough to give you the help you need?