More Beyond - Bible Study

by Eric Wright and Stephanie Thomas on

Bible Studies 1 document
John 11:1–44

  • More Beyond | The Scrolls | March 31, 2024

    Copyright Central Bible Church

The Scrolls is a weekly Bible study written by pastors and other leaders at Central Bible Church, based on that week’s sermon topic. Use The Scrolls as a personal Bible study tool, for family devotions, and for small group discussions. You can read part of it below. The downloadable PDF also includes discussion questions, more in-depth commentary, end notes, and a kids’ page designed for families to study the topic together. This lesson goes with the Easter sermon "More Beyond."

Jesus was known to do many miracles among the people he served. According to a
“broad consensus” of scholarly historians, Josephus, the first century Jewish historian,
wrote a summary of the life of Jesus as follows: “Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and many of Greek origin. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him. And the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day” (James Dunn, Jesus Remembered, 141). The Gospels record many of these “startling deeds” of Jesus. The Gospel of John claims that Jesus did so many miraculous deeds that they all could not be written down (John 20:30; 21:25). The many miracles or signs that John refers to are described in a number of passages (2:18-19, 23; 3:2; 6:2; 7:31; 9:16; 11:47; 12:37; 20:30-31).

Most students of John’s Gospel identify seven key miracles called “signs.” Some have
actually called the first half of John (chapters 1-12) the “Book of Signs.” Most scholars list the following “signs” as the seven most prominent in the Gospel of John: 1. Water to Wine (2:1-11), 2. Healing the official’s son (4:46–54), 3. Healing the lame man (5:1–15), 4. Feeding the 5000 (6:5–13), 5. Jesus walking on the water (6:16–21), 6. Healing the man born blind (9:1–7), and 7. Raising Lazarus from the dead (11:1–44). John clearly states that these “signs” were “written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah,
the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). These seven miracles all point to the power of Jesus and his divine ability to do what only God could do, thus promoting faith in him. Along with faith comes the infusion of “life” gained through faith in Jesus and his name. This life is described as “eternal life” in John 17 times. Faith in Jesus that produces life begins now and stretches beyond the grave into eternal life. Life now that transcends death is the essence of hope.

Each of the seven signs in John begins with a “hardship of life.” Whether it is a shortage, an illness, hunger, a storm or even death itself, Jesus demonstrated that he has power to address these difficulties in life. Jesus can help us overcome any difficulty with a miracle or with a means of making it through the difficulty. Jesus does not prevent difficulties in our lives. Instead he works through the difficulties to build our faith in him. Sometimes we may wonder if he will ever come through or we may think that we will never make it. But Jesus can be trusted to show himself worthy of trust and worship.

The seventh sign in the Gospel of John deals with the tragedy of death (11:1-44). This is the longest miracle story in John and is most unique in that much is said before the miracle, but very little is said after the miracle. This pattern of “much ado” before the miracle is mirrored in our lives. Like Martha and Mary and Jesus’ disciples, we spend much time focusing on our fears, emotions and “what ifs.” Jesus provided hope to those questioning him. This hope was grounded in the truth that Jesus is the source of life both now and after death. “Eternal life is conceived as a present and continuing possession ('he who is alive and had faith in me will never die'), or as a recovery of life after death of the body and the end of the world ('even if he dies will come to life'), the thing that matters is that life is the gift of Christ - and Christ's gift to men, we know, is Himself (vi.51)" (C.H. Dodd, The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel, 364). No matter the state of our life, we can have hope and can cope because of who Jesus is. We can trust in Jesus to get us through any challenge in life, even the most somber of challenges, death
itself. We can face death because we believe in Jesus who can raise people from the dead and who himself conquered death and offers to us eternal life. If we live by our faith in Jesus we can never completely “die” because we will live eternally in a resurrected body with Jesus. If and when we die physically, we will live a new life for eternity with him. This is the hope of Jesus, our resurrection and life (John 11:25-26). 

Central Message of the Text: 

Believe in Jesus as your resurrection from death and as your source of eternal life that begins now with your trust in him, full of the hope that death is defeated by the power of Jesus.

Family Talk:

Holy Week is a time of raw emotion. We go from the highest high to the lowest low and back again. We imagine the excitement and fanfare of Jesus’ grand entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Our holy anger is fired up as Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers in the temple. We shoulder the heavy load of the unfolding events of betrayal and suffering because, on this side of heaven, we know what’s coming. We sit in awe at how Jesus humbly serves and washes the disciples’ feet at the last supper. We scream at Jesus’ silence as He is tortured and tried. We’re offended as they cast lots for His clothing. Our heart breaks as He creates a new family with His mother and beloved disciple John. We’re fearful as the sky turns dark and the world seems to stop. We weep in the worst kind of grief at His death. We stand in shock as the curtain is torn. We mourn as time creeps slowly through the Sabbath. An overwhelming sense of joy is found at the discovery of His resurrection. We draw near and peer over the shoulders of the disciples as He shows Himself to Thomas and the others. And finally, we dare to hope as He ascends to sit at the right hand of the Father. Before you plan your meal,
stuff plastic eggs or go shopping for color-coordinated Easter outfits, sit with your family and read through the four Gospel accounts of Jesus’ last days, death, and resurrection. Spend time traveling along this journey with Jesus and then worship Him. Look what He did for you.