Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead
Summary of Lesson Activities:
Studets make a stick puppet with a happy and sad face. Then, as story unfolds students show via their sick puppet what emotion is being felt.
John 11:1-44; particularly 17-44
To see the “aftermath” of Lazarus’ resurrection, read 11:45-12:11
John 11:25, “Jesus said, ‘I am the and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even if they die”
- Students will be able to identify Mary, Martha, and Lazarus as personal friends of Jesus.
- Students will learn that different emotions are OK at the time of a death or funeral.
- Students will learn that Jesus has the power to bring life out of death.
- Gather the materials.
- Read the scripture ahead of time.
- This script (or your notes or memory!)
- Sheet of paper for each student with 2 circles (4 inch diameter?) on it
- Markers or crayons
- Glue sticks
- Tongue depressors or other flat sticks (one/student)
Opening-Welcome and Lesson Introduction:
Say, “Today we’re going to learn about something sad that happened to one of Jesus’ friends, and what Jesus did about it. First, though, let’s begin with prayer. Dear Jesus, we thank you for this day and the chance to learn more about you. As we learn about how you helped one of your friends, help us to know that you help us, too, in amazing ways. And all of God’s children said…AMEN.
Introducing the Story:
Ask the children, “Have any of you had someone from your family die? How many of you have been to a funeral? (Allow children to respond and share a brief story if they wish). Usually we feel pretty sad when someone dies, don’t we? At the same time, though, sometimes people visit and laugh and smile even at a funeral. Can anybody think of why people might be happy sometimes at a funeral? (This might be a tough question for kids. Help them think about these ideas: people know their loved one is with Jesus; if the person had been very sick, they might be happy that their suffering is over; funerals are times we see family members and friends that maybe haven’t been seen for a long time; and it is a time to share happy memories of the person who died).
In the story that I will be sharing today, some of the emotions go back and forth, between happy and sad. Before we start, then, I have a little art project I’d like us to work on. We’re going to make stick puppets with happy and sad faces. Then, as I tell the story, you can help me think about which face the people might have had at that part of the story!
Dig-Main Content and Reflection:
Pass out to each student a sheet with the circles on it for face shapes. Have them use markers/crayons to create a happy, smiley face. Use markers/crayons to make the other one be a sad face, perhaps with tears. When they are done, have them cut out the faces. One should be glued to a tongue depressor with the stick against most of the length of the back of the circle, for support. The other face should then be covered with glue on the back and pasted to the back of the other face, over the stick. (The result will be a two-faced puppet—happy on one side, sad on the other.) When everyone is finished, have the group gather around you for the story.)
Telling the Story:
Once upon a time, there were two sisters and one brother named Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Even though they were grown-up age, they still lived with each other in a little house in a small town called Bethany. Bethany was just about two miles from the big city of Jerusalem. One day they got a chance to meet Jesus, and they became very good friends. Jesus traveled a lot, but whenever he came to Jerusalem, he made a point of going also to Bethany to visit his friends—Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus. Some times they would have supper together, and they spent a lot of time visiting with each other. What were the names of Jesus’ friends? (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus). How do you think their faces looked when they were visiting together as friends? (smile face).
One day, though, Lazarus became sick. As the day went on he felt worse and worse. Mary and Martha didn’t know what to do for him. In those days they didn’t really have hospitals to take him to, or an ambulance to call. They were worried about their brother, though. They had never seen him so sick. How do you think their faces looked when they worried about Lazarus? (sad face).
Suddenly, Mary had an idea. She said to her sister, “Martha, we have seen Jesus heal a lot of people from many, many diseases and disabilities. I am sure that Jesus could heal Lazarus! Let’s send someone to tell Jesus that Lazarus is sick, and ask him to come right away!” How do you think Martha looked when she thought about sending someone for Jesus? (happy face).
Martha said, “That’s a great idea, Mary! I’ll go ask Nathan, next door, if he would go and deliver a message to Jesus. I think he might know where Jesus is right now.” Nathan did know where to find Jesus. The very next day he arrived where Jesus was and told him, “Jesus, your good friend Lazarus is very sick. His sisters asked me to tell you, so that you could come and heal him.” How do you think Jesus felt when he heard that his friend was sick? (sad face)
Jesus told Nathan that he would come as soon as he could, and assured him that Lazarus’ illness would bring glory to God, and to the Son of God.
As much as Jesus was concerned about Lazarus, he also knew that what he was doing when Nathan came was important. So, he didn’t leave right away. In fact, he stayed there two more days, telling people about God’s love, and healing people in that town. How do you think the people in that town felt, knowing that Jesus loved them so much that he would stay there to talk to them and heal them? (happy face).
Finally, one morning Jesus said to his disciples, “It’s time for us to go to Bethany and see Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus.” Thomas said to him, “Maybe you shouldn’t Jesus! You have a lot of enemies in Jerusalem. If you go to Bethany, you’ll be close to them, and maybe they will hurt you.” Jesus said, “I’m not afraid of them! There are twelve hours of daylight in a day. I will walk in God’s light and not hide from anyone. I must go to Bethany. Lazarus is dead. For your sake, I am glad I was not there. You will believe when you see what I do. Let us now go to him.” Thomas was very upset, but he said to the other disciples, “We might have to die with Jesus, but if he wants to go to Bethany, let’s go with him.” How do you think the disciples felt when they heard that Lazarus was dead, and Jesus wanted to go to an area that might be dangerous? (sad face).
When they got to Bethany, they found out that Jesus had been right. Lazarus was dead. In fact, he had died four days earlier, and his body had been put in a tomb. A tomb is like a cave where bodies are placed for burial in areas where you can’t dig a grave into the ground. There were a lot of people at Mary and Martha’s house. A lot of friends had come to cry with them. People were in and out of the house, and it seemed like everyone was still crying very loudly. Lazarus had been quite a young man, and everyone was surprised and sad at how quickly he died. What face did people have at Mary and Martha’s house? (sad face).
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she ran out of the house to see her friend. She was happy to see him (happy face) but also kind of angry at him (sad face). She said, “Jesus, if you had come sooner, my brother would not have died! But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise to life.” Martha replied, “Yes, I know that he will have a new life at the end of the world.” Jesus, though, said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.” How do you think Martha’s face looked now, after this promise of Jesus’? (happy face).
Martha ran and told her sister, Mary, that Jesus had come. Mary came out of the house and went to Jesus. She sobbed, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!” Jesus was very sad to see her and all the others being so sad. (sad face). He asked Mary, “Where have you buried him?” Mary took him to the family’s tomb. Jesus himself cried, when he saw the burial place of his friend, Lazarus.
Jesus told someone to move away the big stone that was covering the entrance to the tomb. Martha said, “I don’t think you want to do that, Jesus! He’s been dead four days. By now his body is probably starting to rot. It will smell really bad.” Jesus said, “Do what I tell you, and believe in me, and you will see God’s glory.”
Some men worked together to move the big stone. Jesus looked up to heaven and prayed, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me. I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.” Then, Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, “LAZARUS, COME OUT!”
Immediately, Lazarus came walking out of the tomb—alive again! He was still wrapped up in the cloths that they had buried him in. They would wrap bands of cloth around the body, and put some special sweet-smelling substances in the cloth to try to cover up the smell of the dead body. He didn’t need that anymore though, did he? Jesus told Martha, “Help him out of that stuff, and let him go!” Now how do you think people’s faces looked? (Wave the happy faces wildly!)
Jesus’ disciples were right about one thing. Going back to Bethany was dangerous for Jesus. Pretty soon Jesus’ enemies had him arrested, and you know what happened, don’t you? They put Jesus to death on the cross for our sins. All of his followers were very sad about that (sad face). But three days later, on Easter morning, God raised Jesus from the dead. Just like Lazarus, Jesus came walking out of the tomb! (happy face). God showed that he is stronger than death. Do you remember Jesus’ promise in our memory verse this month? Let’s try to say it together, “Jesus said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if they die.” This promises us that anyone who believes in Jesus will have new life beyond death. It doesn’t mean that we’ll get to walk around on earth more like Lazarus did, but that God will give us a new life in heaven.
1. What were the names of Jesus’ friends in this story? (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus)
2. What did Jesus promise to Mary and Martha? (Lazarus would live again)
3. When you take your face puppet home, your parents will probably ask about it. What will you tell them? Why were people sad in this story? (Lazarus was sick, and then he died) Why were people happy in this story? (Being with good friends, and especially they were happy when Jesus raised Lazarus!)
Draw a picture or write in your book about how Lazarus would have felt when he got the gift of new life from Jesus.
Dear Jesus, we thank you that you are the resurrection and the life. We are very glad that you are stronger than death. Help us to trust you, even when we are sad, knowing that you are always with us. Let all of God’s children say….AMEN.
A lesson written by Pastor Ted from: Augustana Lutheran Church
Saint James, Minnesota
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