‘A Certain Man Was Ill’ (John 11)

'A Certain Man Was Ill'

Do you believe this (Jn. 11:26)?

When Jesus asks Martha this question in John 11, He wanted to hear from her something John has been building upon all throughout the first 10 chapters of his book. With Jesus’ public ministry coming to an end, it was now or never that the “signs” He had given everyone who had eyes to see would have to cause them to come to a decision. Is Jesus God? Or is He not? Is He just crazy? Or is He something far greater than we could ever even imagine?

However one comes to the text, the reality is this: Jesus is at the crossroads, and without the slightest twinge of fear or doubt, He takes the way only He could travel. And He does so clearly when He states the following from John 11:25-26:

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.

What Jesus is about to do for Lazarus will put Him on the fast track to the Cross. He is about to show that only He has the power to breathe life into the dead, and no angry Pharisee or unbelieving Jew will stop Him from accomplishing His goal. Jesus is about to end the “Book of Signs” (John 1-11) with His most astonishing miracle yet. And predictably, by the end of this chapter we see exactly where we are headed next as we embark on Jesus’ Passion week.

From that day on they made plans to put Him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews (Jn. 11:53-54a).

What happens between John 11:1 and 11:54 is another matter. The actions Jesus takes, and the words He speaks demand our attention … and it is on us to figure out if we are willing to have the ears to hear and the eyes to see. What we will see in that process, though, is rather simple: Do you believe this?

Whether it is Jesus’ statement to His disciples after they questioned why He would return to a place where the Jews wanted to stone Him (Jn. 11:14-15). Or what He said to Martha and Mary when they first approach Him about their brother Lazarus who was sick (Jn. 11:4). Jesus purpose for what He is in Bethany to accomplish is so incredibly clear: He wanted people to believe. He wanted them to know who He was then, and who He remains today. He wanted people to see God.

Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God? (Jn. 11:40)


  1. What do you find most precarious about how Jesus goes about His journey back to Bethany to raise Lazarus?
  2. What about Mary, Martha, and the disciples’ responses to what Jesus is doing can you most identify with?
  3. What does Jesus mean by what He says in John 11:25-26?
  4. How, if at all, do you see Jesus showing Himself to be fully human AND fully God?
  5. What makes John 11:45-54 so significant in Jesus’ story up to this point?


Our study of the GOSPEL OF JOHN in review:

JOHN 19-20 – Watch message / Read: “The King’s Path to Peace

JOHN 18 – Watch message / Read: “A Portrait of a King

JOHN 16-17 – Watch message / Read: “After the Helper Comes

JOHN 15 – Watch message / Read: “Abide and Grow

JOHN 13-14 – Watch message / Read: “A Ministry Defined

JOHN 12 – Watch message / Read: “The Glory Commences

JOHN 11 – Watch message / Read: “A Certain Man Was Ill

JOHN 10 – Watch message / Read: “The Good Shepherd’s Task

JOHN 8-9 – Watch message / Read: “Life-changing Light on a Longstanding Truth

JOHN 7 – Watch message / Read: “The Festival of Truths”

JOHN 6 – Watch message / Read: “No Ordinary Type of Bread

JOHN 5 – Watch message / Read: “A Dichotomy of Belief

JOHN 3-4 – Watch message / Read: “Jesus Surprises on the Margins

JOHN 2 – Watch message / Read: “And So It Begins…”

JOHN 1:19-51 – Watch message / Read: “A Revealing Voice in the Wilderness”

JOHN 1:1-18 – Watch message / Read: “A Prologue to Deeper Beginnings”