Important note: we will be switching to in-person Sunday school next week (October 4). If you won’t be joining us yet – but would still like to keep up with our Sunday school curriculum – contact the office and we will mail you a workbook (we also have teacher’s guides available for parents who are shepherding their children).
Family Sunday School Devotional for September 27
“Jesus Raised Lazarus” from John 11
Listen to- “The Life (John 14:6; 1 John 5:11-12)” by Seeds Family Worship here:
and- “(John 11:25-26) I am the Resurrection and the Life” by Esther Mui here:
Supplies Needed- For younger kids: none needed; for older kids: box of facial tissues; for further learning for all ages: blanket and table (optional: toilet paper)
Summary- Jesus has power over death.
Introduction Younger Kid Activity- Good Friends Ask family members to share what makes someone else a good friend to them. Then, ask everyone to name one thing that makes them good friends to others. Finally, ask what makes Jesus a good friend. Say, “Jesus is the best friend we could ever have. Today we will hear a story about a time when one of Jesus’ friends got sick and the friend’s sisters asked Jesus to come heal him. Jesus didn’t go right away but waited until the friend died! Do you think that something like death can stop Jesus from being a good friend? No way! We’ll learn more soon.”
Introduction Older Kid Activity- Take a Tissue Pass around a box of facial tissues, having each family member take one or more (you can cap it at 5, if you like). Then, announce that for each tissue in a person’s hand, that person should share that many facts about him/herself. Consider giving prompts: things that make you happy, things that make you sad, things that make you laugh, and so on. Say, “Tissues are useful for wiping your nose when you sneeze or wiping away tears when you cry. Did you know that Jesus cried? When He was on earth, He cried because His friend Lazarus had died. We will hear more about Lazarus in today’s Bible story.”
Big Picture Question- Say, “Our Big Picture Question asks: How does God care for His creation? The answer is: God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan. In the beginning, when God created the universe, death was not part of creation. Today we will learn about a small glimpse Jesus gave people into the way God’s kingdom will function when He returns to fully set up His rule on the earth. Death will not happen. Pain and sickness will end, and all evil will be destroyed. God’s plan for creation is perfect.”
Bible Story- Timeline Say, “While on earth, Jesus traveled all over Israel teaching people about God and His kingdom. Jesus taught that God’s growing kingdom is more valuable than anything. God’s kingdom grows as lost people put their faith in Jesus. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. But not everyone believed Jesus. Many people misunderstood Jesus’ teachings. However, Jesus’ miracles proved that He is God and His teachings are trustworthy. Today we will learn about that. Our story is called ‘Jesus Raised Lazarus’.” Open a Bible to John 11:1-44. Say, “Today’s Bible story sounds impossible, but we know it really happened because it’s in God’s Word! This story is in the New Testament Book of John. John was one of Jesus’ disciples and saw what happened.” Either tell the story in your own words from this passage or read aloud from the Big Picture Interactive Bible Storybook (the Bible storybook your younger child received from Sunday School) page 230.
Christ Connection- Say, “When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He showed that He has power over death. Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose from the dead. He gives eternal life to those who trust in Him. Our life with God starts as soon as we trust in Jesus. We gain hope, joy, and peace. And beyond that, even after our physical bodies die we will be alive with God in heaven. When Jesus returns, He will raise us from the dead forever and fix everything sin has broken.”
Key Passage- Open a Bible to Colossians 1:13-14. Read the verses aloud. Say, “Death exists in the world because of sin. Sin separates us from God, but the Bible says God sent Jesus so that we can have a right relationship with Him. Jesus has power over death. When we trust in Jesus, God rescues us from sin, death, and darkness. He brings us into His kingdom of life and light.”
Review Questions- Ask the following questions:
- *PreK- Which friend of Jesus got sick and died? (Lazarus)
- *PreK- How long was Lazarus in the tomb? (4 days)
- *PreK- Did Martha believe Jesus could do a miracle? (yes)
- *PreK- What did Jesus do? (Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.)
- *PreK- Does Jesus have power over death? (yes)
- Who did Martha say Jesus is? (John 11:27)
- How can we know Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God? (Guide kids to think about what Jesus said about Himself, what others said about Jesus, and what Jesus’ actions communicated. Remind kids that only God has power over death. Jesus is God the Son, and we can trust what the Bible says about Him.)
- What does it mean to live even if you die? (Direct kids to think about the new life we receive through Jesus. Help kids think through both the abundant life we receive as soon as we become Christians and the resurrection and eternal life we are promised in the future. Eternal life starts right away.)
- How do you feel when you think about death? (Help kids process the complexity of grief. Remind kids that sadness about death is normal and healthy. Explain that death was not part of God’s original design for creation. Point out that Christians have hope even in sadness because we know that death is not the end for those in Christ. All believers who die are reunited with God and live in His perfect kingdom forever.)
- How does God care for His creation? (God loves and rules over His creation according to His perfect plan.)
Say, “Jesus has power over death. Our bodies still get sick and die because we live in a world broken by sin. Someday, Jesus will fix all that sin has broken. We have hope even in sadness because of Jesus.”
For Older Kids- Also, ask the following questions:
- Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? (Point out that Jesus could have healed Lazarus while he was sick. Instead, Jesus waited, and Lazarus died. Jesus said Lazarus’ sickness would not end in death but in God’s glory. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to show His power over death. Help kids recognize that God sometimes allows bad things happen so that His glory might be displayed. Read Philippians 2:9-11)
- How do you think someone who comes back to life from the dead might live differently? How should WE live differently as Christians who HAVE been brought from death to life? (Emphasize that when God gives us new life in Jesus, we should turn from our evil ways of sin and live for Him. God created us to do good works and share the good news of Jesus with the world. Read Ephesians 2:4-5)
Reflection- Ask older children to answer one of the following questions:
- What does this story teach me about God or the Gospel?
- What does the story teach me about myself?
- Whom can I tell about this story?
Further Learning- Call By Name Drape a blanket over a table to create a “tomb”. Invite one family member to turn away, hiding eyes, while another person hides in the tomb. (Optional: If you have a good supply of toilet paper😊, you may wrap the person in the tomb in toilet paper first.) Have the first person call out a name as a guess of who is in the “tomb”: “__________, come out!” If the correct name is called, have the 2nd person come out. If not, try again, without turning around yet. Play as many rounds as you like. Say, “Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead simply by calling for him! Even Mary and Martha did not expect Jesus to call their brother out of the tomb that day. That’s why they were so disappointed that Jesus had not come to heal Lazarus while he was still alive. Jesus showed that He has power over death. Jesus Himself rose from the dead after dying on the cross for our sins. People who believe in Him may die, but God will call them by name to rise again and live forever with Him. And, He will never get our names wrong, because He knows us as part of His own family!”
Pray- Ask God to comfort those who are grieving. Thank God for sending Jesus to rescue us from sin and death.
Adult Sunday School Devotional for September 27
“Jesus Raises Lazarus” from John 11
Listen to- “Because He Lives” by Gloria & William Gaither here:
and- “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” by Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Papa here:
Summary- Jesus raised His friend Lazarus from the dead, revealing His authority over death and foreshadowing His own resurrection, which would occur soon after.
Christ Connection- Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” Because Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead, we have full assurance that Jesus will one day defeat death forever and resurrect us from the dead.
Point 1. Jesus has authority over the curse of death (read aloud John 11:20-27).
Note- Death has been plaguing us almost from the very beginning (see Genesis 3), but death always feels unnatural to us because it IS- we were not created to die. Its inception on earth was God’s judgment for Adam’s sin, but God also sent Jesus to end it. Thus, we learn this important thing- God is God even over death. So how are we to rise over death? How can we finally conquer this insatiable enemy that always gets the last word? The God who sovereignly sanctioned death as the wages for sin (see Romans 6:23) can sovereignly conquer death by making payment for those wages Himself. He can undo it. Only He can overcome it.
Resurrection: Both the Old and New Testaments teach that one day believers will experience a resurrection of the body from the death (see Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:12-14). The promise of the resurrection is found in the resurrection of Christ from the dead, and it will take place at the future return of Christ. Because Christ was the firstfruits of the resurrection, Christians can be assured that their resurrection will be similar in nature, meaning it will be both bodily and glorious (see Philippians 3:20-21; Romans 8:22-23). The hope of the future resurrection gives Christians confidence that death has been defeated in the death and resurrection of Christ.
Respond- How can believers glorify God and the Son Jesus in the way they respond to death?
Point 2. Jesus grieves the curse of death (read aloud John 11:32-37).
Note- The incarnation of Christ, the full humanity of Jesus, is important for us to remember lest we have a Christianity- and a Gospel- detached from the reality of life and death. Unbeknownst to us, we needed God to come in the flesh. We needed God to bear our burdens. We needed God to suffer and die in our place so we could be saved from our sin. God fulfilled our need through sending His Son. We needed the God-Man who actually touched lepers, brought children up onto His lap, reclined at the dinner table with His buddies, and yes, wept over the death of His friends. “Jesus wept” means Jesus was not hovering above the experience of human frailty and sorrow like some divine hologram. “Jesus wept” means Jesus was not impervious to the impact of death upon humanity. “Jesus wept” means Jesus was not above getting hurt, or even dying Himself. John’s Gospel as a whole appears to address, at least implicitly, a kind of Gnostic heresy that believed flesh is evil at best and an illusion at worst and therefore suggested Jesus was God but not really a human being. Counter to this heresy, John’s Gospel proclaims the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (see John 1:14). John recounts the historical truth that the Son of God became one of us because the human predicament in sin is so dire it requires nothing less than the actual space-time intervention of the God of the universe. John 11, in particular, shows us that this intervention was a full-on, in-depth adoption of the entire human experience.
Note- The curse of death that has entered the world through humankind’s sin against God is a great sorrow to the God-Man, Jesus. Why? Because He loves us. And because of Jesus’ death on the cross that defeated death not only for Lazarus but also for us, we can marvel about Jesus’ commitment to us- “See how He loves us!”
Respond- What are some differences between Christians and the world in how they view death?
Point 3. Jesus undoes the curse of death (read aloud John 11:41-44).
Note- The raising of Lazarus is a beautiful picture of the new birth of any sinner transformed by grace. Freedom from death comes from the good news of Jesus. His power turns the dead into the living. And this freedom starts even now. It is not just a “ticket to heaven” when we die. It is the gift of eternal life at the moment of salvation. When we believe upon Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life, we become liberated then and there from the curse of sin and earth. The freeing of Lazarus is a beautiful picture of every person born again in the Spirit. The chains are off; the cell door is open. When the Son sets us free, we are truly free (see John 8:36). “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Respond- What will it look like to live free in Christ, free from the chains of sin and death?
Conclusion- Sometimes you hear people say that whether Christ was resurrected or not doesn’t really matter. What matters, they suggest, is what you believe in your heart about it. The significance of Easter, the thinking goes, is metaphorical, wholly spiritual. But the Son of God did not put on metaphorical flesh. Nor did He die a metaphorical death. Because our individual deaths will be real, we need Jesus’ death in our place to be real too. Because our bodies are going to die, we hope for a real resurrection. In Christ’s death and resurrection, we see the depth of His real love for real people. The raising of Lazarus is a reminder that Jesus is not just Lord over our spiritual life but He is Lord over real life- all of life itself- as well as death itself.
Apply- Because we have been given eternal life in Christ, we glorify God always, even in sickness and in death, trusting in His power to raise us from the dead.
-How does the raising of Lazarus affect your thinking about death, grief, mourning, and eternal life?
-What are some ways your family can address physical needs in your community with the goal of proclaiming Christ, our resurrected Savior?
-Who do you know is facing or grieving death, and how will you help them see Jesus, the resurrection and the life, in faith? (Pray, thanking Jesus for calling our dead hearts to life through the power of the Holy Spirit. Through His cross, He has obtained resurrected life for everyone who trust in Him. In dying, He conquered death by freeing us from sin’s grasp; in rising, He carried us with Him to His Father’s right hand where eternal pleasures reside. Ask for help to announce this good news to a world in constant grief over sin’s destructive effects.)