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Sermon Notes + 8.6.2023




He Whom You Love Is Ill
John 11:1-16
Dr. Tony Chute, Lead Pastor

Overview: During a brief interlude where Jesus has left Jerusalem, He is informed that Lazarus has become ill. John tells us that Jesus is especially close to Lazarus and his family, namely Mary and Martha. Jesus instantly knows that Lazarus will live through the ordeal, but it is not yet clear to anyone else how the events will transpire. When Jesus announces His plans to return to Judea, His disciples realize the danger He faces and attempt to convince Him otherwise. Jesus is determined to see Lazarus because His presence will glorify God by producing faith in those who witness the miracle Jesus has planned. Thomas speaks for the disciples by resigning himself to die if necessary in order to follow His Lord. John’s narration continues, but at this point, it is evident that his primary focus is on Jesus’s care and love for His own, which forms a message we can benefit from even today.


1. What do we know about Lazarus, Mary, and Martha from this text? Note that the event involving Mary which John mentions in verse 2 actually occurs in the next chapter, John 12:1-8. How do these two narratives demonstrate the close relationship Jesus shared with the family? Can you describe your walk with the Lord in similar relational tones?

2. John informs us that Jesus loved Martha and Mary (verse 5) and Lazarus is described as one whom Jesus loved (verse 3). How does the emphasis on Jesus’s love for all three persons highlight the tension with Lazarus’s illness? What did Mary and Martha do to show their love for Lazarus? Do you find yourself questioning God’s love for you when you are ill or facing difficulties in life? What remedy can you turn to in order to remember God’s love for you in times of difficulty?

3. What is Jesus’s first reaction to the news of Lazarus’s illness (verse 4). How can He diagnose the illness without being present or on-site? How does Jesus’s ability to know all things help to confirm His identity as the Son of God? When you are facing a trial or difficulty, are you convinced that God is aware and knows all things? What do you make of God’s delayed response to your prayers?

4. Why were the disciples reluctant for Jesus to return to the area near Jerusalem? What is Jesus facing when He ultimately returns to Jerusalem? Given the fact that Jesus will place Himself in danger to visit Lazarus, why does He not heal Lazarus at a distance instead? How does Jesus’s presence with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus bring glory to God (see verses 4, 15, 41-42)?

5. What does this passage teach us about our suffering and God’s love? How quickly do we forget that God is in complete control of every situation, especially when His response to our cry for help seems delayed (verse 6)? What would you say to someone whose suffering leads them to conclude that God has failed or God does not love them? How does Jesus’s death on the cross answer shed the ultimate light on God’s love, goodness, and power in suffering?

For Further Reading: John Piper and Justin Taylor, eds. Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (Crossway, 2006)