Take time to welcome any newcomers and catch up on the past week (over drinks or snacks if possible). Then discuss the following question:
Over this term, we’re exploring eight of Jesus’ claims starting, each with the words ‘I am.’ Not only will this help us understand Jesus better, but we’ll come to understand ourselves better too.
This week’s passage is quite long. Ask for a couple of volunteers to read John 11:17-44. Then pray a short prayer asking that, however much group members have previously come to know God, they’d know him better as a result of your time together.
The life Jesus has to offer can be experienced now, but more fully in the future. There is a greater quality of life now as we know Jesus, but suffering, death and sadness remain a part of our stories. But with Jesus there is hope death does not get the last say.
Jesus promises that, through this episode, people would see the glory of God (verses 4 and 40). Now, rather than being healed of sickness, Lazarus is raised from the dead!
Martha indicates that she (and her brother Lazarus) believed in ‘the resurrection at the last day.’ What did she mean by this?
Several Old Testament passages use the language of ‘resurrection’ to describe how the nation of Israel will be ‘raised to life’ after exile (see Hosea 6, Ezekiel 37). More specifically, Isaiah 26:19 and Daniel 12:2 speak of how God’s people will awake to everlasting life and joy. The fact that Old Testament believers are so concerned about the means and place of their burial may also indicate their belief in physical resurrection.
By Martha’s day, there was a firm belief amongst many Jewish people in a day of physical resurrection. God’s righteous people would be raised to restored and rejuvenated bodies. One Jewish text, written in the second century BC, speaks of how “all humanity will rise, some to glory and some to disgrace.” Most Jews saw the day of resurrection as when God would restore the nation of Israel to glory on a transformed and recreated earth.
Jesus directs Martha’s hope for resurrection onto himself – and he claims that, instead of just being a future event, eternal life with him starts now. Death cannot rob our life with Jesus. On the day of his return, all who trust him will be raised to everlasting physical life in his world made new.
Read verses 25-27 aloud, and reflect on Jesus’ claim to be the resurrection power and resurrection life for all who believe.
If you’re able to sing in your group time, there are plenty of songs that will help you dwell on Jesus’ ability to bring life to a dying world, including: 10,000 Reasons; Living Hope and O Praise the Name (Anastasis).
It’s sometimes said if a person is too heavenly minded, they become of no earthly use.
Yet a look at human history confirms that those who make an impact in their time are often firm believers in eternal life (read more here). Because of this resolute hope, they’re willing to put themselves on the line for the sake of others.
Spend a chunk of time praying together. Pray for any people you know who are grieving or mourning. Pray for a sense of confidence that life in Jesus is more powerful than death. Pray this confidence would make a day-to-day difference as you live amongst friends.
Thank You – Thank everyone for coming, and ask someone to thank God for your time together in prayer.
Ask – Ask those who are new to reading the Bible if they’d like to explore Uncover, a set of sessions in Mark’s Gospel, allowing them to investigate one of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ life alongside one of you.
Church and CU – What does the CU have planned ahead? And what help would group members value in finding a local church?
Others – Who else could you invite to join your CU Impact Group next week? These friends don’t need to be followers of Jesus and may really appreciate being invited.
See You Soon – Tell the group where and when you’ll meet next week, and arrange who will bring snacks. (You might like to alternate healthy and less healthy weeks!). See if anyone would be up for sharing a meal or just hanging out in the meantime!
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