House group questions on John 11:1-44


Housegroup questions on John 11:1-44

As always, please just choose the questions which you think are most appropriate for your group.

Duncan pointed out that many of us have had experiences like Martha and Mary’s – we called out to God in a time of need, and there seemed to be no answer; we were aware only of God’s absence. Some members of the group may wish to talk about their experiences of this: what did God’s silence ‘feel like’; what happened in the end; what was the implications of all this for their faith.

How would you respond to someone who said ‘I don’t really see how this passage can console someone who has been bereaved. Jesus said that he is the resurrection and the life now, but dead people aren’t restored to life in Inverness today. Isn’t the story in John 11 discouraging and faith-shaking?’

Some people in the group might like to share experiences of grieving when someone close has died. To what extent did their faith make a difference in the long process of grieving?  Did the comments of some well-meaning Christian friends trouble, rather than console?  What words or actions of others sustained them best during the dark days of loss? (Again be honest, and treat anything shared with sensitivity and confidentiality.)

What does it mean, amid the practicalities and challenges of everyday life to say that ‘Jesus is the resurrection and the life?’  What difference does it make to the way we live? Be honest – if it’s something you haven’t thought much about before, just say so! If on the other hand you have found the living presence of Jesus live-transforming, just say so – tell it like it is!

How helpful is it to remember that when we weep, God weeps? Does it make any practical difference to us in the middle of dark and painful times?

What would you say to someone who protests ‘I want a powerful, almighty God who fixes things, rather than a God who seems to suspend his power and can do nothing but weep with us!’

How do you think Lazarus’s relationship with Jesus – his life as Jesus’ friend – have been different after Jesus called him back to life from what it was before?

You may like to discuss how this story ‘works’ as a metaphor of becoming a Christian, or of becoming whole – fully and truly ourselves.  There are five parts to the story: Lazarus’s life before death; his experience of death; Jesus calling him to life; the removal of the grave clothes; the new life around the table with Jesus.  Would you agree that each part represents a stage of our spiritual journeys?

Duncan particularly emphasises Jesus’ command to ‘take off the grave clothes’ (v44).   Discuss further what things in our lives these ‘grave clothes’ – damaging and restricting baggage from our past – might signify. How can we as a church help others to walk free?  Group members may wish to share stories of ‘grave clothes’ they have been freed from.  You may wish to offer individual, one-to-one prayer and counsel to anyone in the group who has become aware of things from their past from which they seek freedom.

There are many other details in John 11. Group members may wish to discuss something which struck them in reading it which hasn’t been covered by these questions.

Duncan encouraged us to consider our own mortality.  Some group members may want to talk about times when they have become aware of their own fragility. Why do we find it difficult to acknowledge that ‘One day I will die?’  To what extent do you agree with Duncan that we are blessed in realising that our days are numbered.



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