Into the Lesson
Read the following accounts to your class, afterwards discuss them with the aid of the questions that follow.
In the early seventeenth century, a certain Marjorie Elphinstone died and was buried. When grave robbers attempted to steal her jewelry, she shocked them by groaning. The robbers fled, and she revived. She walked home under her own power and outlived her husband by six years! Marjorie Halcrow Erskine died in 1674 and was buried. The church officer (called a sexton) who buried her returned to the grave later to steal her jewelry. While the thieving sexton was trying to cut off her finger to get her ring, Erskine awoke, she lived many more years.
1. What was the mind-set of the robbers just before their intended victims awoke?
2. If you were a family member of one of these women, what would have been on your mind just before she walked through the door?
Tell your class that today’s lesson deals with the reactions of loved ones to Lazarus’s death and to Jesus’ presence after that death.
Into the Word
Read aloud John 11:1-7, 17-27. After you have read, divide your class into groups of four. Each group will choose one of three activities described below. Provide pens and paper for their work, or direct them to the student books for the exercises.
Group Activity A: Your group is the staff of a newspaper, the Jerusalem Post, covering the events surrounding the death of Lazarus. Write an article based on imaginary interviews with at least two of the following: Jesus, one of His disciples, or Mary. Using information from today’s text, describe the state of mind each would have had before the resurrection.
Group Activity B: Your group is the reporting staff for Jerusalem television stations WWJD. Write and present to the class an on-the-scene interview with at least two of the following: Jesus, one of His disciples, or Mary. Using information from today’s text, describe the reaction each would have had before the resurrection.
Group Activity C: Your group is the editorial staff for a monthly religious magazine, Judaism Today. You’ve decided to do a story on Martha, a true believer in Jesus and the sister of Lazarus. Using information from John 11:20-27, describe Martha’s strong faith as well as her spiritual doubts during the time of her brother’s sickness and death.
Allow groups sufficient time to complete their activities. Then ask a volunteer “reporter” from each group to share that group’s project with the entire class.
Read the hypothetical situations described below. Ask your class to suggest scriptural answers, based on the principles Jesus expressed in His teaching before the raising of Lazarus. (This activity can also be found in the student book, ifyou are using that optional resource.)
1. A member of your congregation has just learned that he has inoperable cancer in an advanced stage. His doctors give him no hope of recovery. How do you help him and his family deal with this crisis?
2. A coworker has lost her teenage son in an auto accident. She and her husband are not Christians, and they are torn between seeking God and blaming Him for their son’s death. What would be an appropriate way to minister to them in their time of grief?
3. Your friend’s mother, a Christian, is approaching the end of her long life due to deteriorating health. She longs to go home to be wills the Lord and end her suffering. How can you comfort both your friend and her mother?
4. Your neighbor, a long time Christian has been stricken by a mysterious disease that has left his doctors baffled and his faith shaken. He lies in a hospital bed, uncertain of his recovery and doubtful of his eternal destination. How do you reassure his faith?