John 11:1-16 Prayers Of Faith & God’s Mysterious Ways

by | May 24, 2024 | John, New Testament

I. The Setting
Vs. 1-3

A. The Relationship V. 1, 2

1. The story of Lazarus isn’t found in the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke.
2. You would think that such an amazing miracle would have been written about.
3. The raising of Lazarus from the dead eventually brought increased opposition against Jesus from the religious leaders, and it also brought a death threat against Lazarus, who would be a witness of the power of Jesus. See John 12:9-11.
4. John’s Gospel was the last one written, between 90-110 A.D.
5. It is thought that while Lazarus lived, the other Gospel writers may have tried to protect Lazarus by not writing about him being raised to life. After he died, John spoke freely.
6. Bethany- two miles east of Jerusalem, at the foot of the Mount of Olives.
7. This is probably about three months after the end of chapter 10.
8. V. 2- The event that John spoke of was probably that anointing found in John 12:3

a. Mary’s anointing of Jesus was well known, and alluded to here by anticipation.

9. Here, John refers to that event, which chronologically, had not yet happened.

B. The Prayer Of Faith V. 3

1. Lord- kurios they saw Jesus as their Lord and master.
2. The one you love- They were sure of His love for Lazarus.
3. Is sick– They simply informed Him. All people get sick, even those loved by Jesus.
4. Note- They did not tell Jesus what to do; they simply informed Him of the need.
5. They initially believed that Jesus would do the right thing, but would doubt later.
6. Philippians 4:6-7 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

II. Jesus’ Response

Vs. 4-10

A. God Hears The Prayers Of His Loved Ones Vs. 4, 5

1. A messenger delivered the message, and Jesus heard it.
2. As it turns out, they all heard it. It would be for their growth and Jesus’ glory.
3. Jesus meant that this would not be the final death for Lazarus.
4. The sisters and others probably thought He meant that no death would occur.
5. The part that was clear was that God would be glorified by whatever would follow.

B. God’s Ways Are Not Our Ways Vs. 6-8

1. John clearly states that Jesus loved this family, and yet He delayed His journey.
2. Friends usually rush to the side of a dying friend. That’s the natural response.
3. Whatever happened, His love for them should not be questioned.
4. We sometimes doubt God’s love when His response if different than what we hope.
5. It is understandable that the disciples were concerned for Jesus.
6. Common sense and natural instincts would prompt this kind of statement.
7. The will of God sometimes goes against common sense and natural instincts.
8. Isaiah 55:8-9 For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

C. God’s Thoughts Are Not Our Thoughts Vs. 9, 10

1. Jesus responded to the disciples’ concern that the Jews might try to stone Him again.
He said, “it’s day time…time for me to walk”.
2. V. 9 The day- Jesus speaks metaphorically of life and death; day =life, night= death.
3. Jesus said that while it was day, while he was still alive, he would walk: live, serve, and do the works of God. See John 9:4
4. Metaphorically, Jesus was saying, “Though the Jews are trying to bring me into night (death), they cannot until the Father’s appointed hour for me actually comes”.
5. Until the moment appointed for Him to die, Jesus could not be killed.
6. Eventually, Jesus’ night would come.
Luke 22:53 When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
7. We are to serve God while it is day, while we are alive.
8. V. 10 If we walk in the darkness of our own counsel, we stumble, and we don’t have the light of God within us.

D. Our Struggle To Understand That Which Is Most Important Vs. 11-14

1. Lazarus was physically dead, but Jesus spoke of His death as only the metaphor of sleep, because Jesus knew that He was going to resuscitate him. See v. 4.
2. V. 12 Generally speaking, sleep is a great aid for one to overcome illness. Therefore, they didn’t see the need for Jesus to endanger Himself by returning to Jerusalem where deadly opposition awaited Him. They must have also been fearful for themselves.
3. The disciples were hearing and analyzing this event through their own understanding.
4. Vs. 13, 14 Jesus finally said it bluntly and in a way they could presumably understand.
5. V. 15 The greater plan that Jesus had. This is presumably the thinking that Jesus had.

a. Lazarus is dead, and I am glad that I was not there.
b. If I had been there, in faith they would have asked me to heal him, and I would have.
c. My miraculous healing of him would have been faith building for you all, but not as faith building as if I raised him from the dead.
d. It’s a miracle to cure a sick man, a greater miracle to raise a dead man, and a greater miracle still to raise a dead man who has been in the tomb 3-4 days.

6. Jesus had said that this would end up with God being glorified.
7. The more impossible the situation, the more God gets the glory.
8. The sisters wanted life for Lazarus, but Jesus wanted greater faith in all of them.
9. APPLICATION- It is easy for us to place far more value on the solving of a problem than it is on the increasing of our faith and bringing glory to God.

a. We often feel an urgency that our problems are solved.
b. We usually feel less urgency that our faith grow, or that God be seen in His glory.

10. V. 16 Thomas seems to say different things…

a. Surely, Jesus will be killed in Jerusalem, so let us show our love and devotion to Him, and if we must, we will suffer martyrdom as well.
b. Must we also go, and expose ourselves to destruction with him?
c. Maybe he said it with resignation. “Oh well, I guess we might as well die too”.
d. Thomas was known as “Doubting Thomas”. He may have seen this whole event as something negative just to be given in to. He may have seen it as an inevitable thing to which he had to just give in.


1. What was/is your least favorite subject in school?
2. Have you ever experienced what seems like a delay only to find that it was better that there had been a delay?
3. The disciples went w/ Jesus even though they weren’t sure what was going on. Have you had an experience like this?
4. In the sermon we talked about valuing problem solving over faith building and bringing glory to God.
How can you know when it’s a time to act, and when it’s a time to wait and see what God will do?