Use this children’s Sunday School lesson to teach kids about the power of Jesus in raising Lazarus (and us) from the dead.
Needed: Bibles, drawing paper, crayons or colored pencils
Intro Activity: Acting It Out
Divide students into groups of two or three. Give them a few minutes to think of their skit. Then, have each group act out what they think happens when someone dies.
(Note: Always give students the opportunity to answer the questions before you clarifying the teaching.)
(Read John 11:1-3.)
“Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one You love is sick.’”
Why do you think Mary and Martha sent a message to Jesus, telling Him that Lazarus is sick? (They believed that Jesus could help Lazarus get better by healing him.)
Do you think Jesus could heal Lazarus? (Yes.)
And Jesus can help us too when we’re sick or have problems.
(Read John 11:4-7.)
“When He heard this, Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.’ Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when He heard that Lazarus was sick, He stayed where He was two more days, and then He said to His disciples, ‘Let us go back to Judea.’”
Mary and Martha sent a message for Jesus to come to heal Lazarus. But did Jesus go to them right away? (No. He waited two days and then, He went to them.)
Why do you think Jesus didn’t go to them right away?
(Read John 11:8-35.)
“’But Rabbi,’ they said, ‘a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone You, and yet You are going back?’
“Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.’
“After He had said this, He went on to tell them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.’
“His disciples replied, ‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’ Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep.
“So then He told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’
“Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him.’
“On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed at home.
“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give You whatever You ask.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’
“Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’
“‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’
“After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
“When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’
‘When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ He asked.
“‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied.
Why did Jesus cry? (He was sad that Lazarus died and felt bad for everyone who was sad about Lazarus dying.)
Jesus cares about us and feels sad for us when bad things happen to us.
(Read John 11:36-39.)
“Then the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him!’
“But some of them said, ‘Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?’
“Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said.
“’But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.’”
Back then, they buried people by putting them in a cave and rolling a big rock in front of the cave. That’s what they did to Lazarus. He died, so they put him in the cave and rolled the rock in front of it. Now, Jesus is telling people to roll the rock out of the way of the cave. Why do you think Jesus wants them to move the rock?
(Read John 11:40-44.)
“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’
“So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank You that you have heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.’
“When He had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
“Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.’
What did Jesus do for Lazarus? (He brought him back to life.)
And Jesus will bring all of us back to life one day too. When Jesus comes back, He will bring everyone who has died back to life, and we will live with Him forever.
How did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? (God gave Him the power.)
Jesus prayed and then, He just told Lazarus to come out. When we have a problem, we have to remember to pray and trust that Jesus is powerful enough to help us with it. Jesus is powerful enough to bring dead people back to life. He can do anything.
But do you remember how Mary and Martha sent Jesus the message about Lazarus being sick? Why didn’t Jesus go help Lazarus right away and heal him? Why did Jesus wait until Lazarus died to help him?
Jesus knew that the best thing was to wait and raise Lazarus from the dead so that people would believe in Him even more. You have to believe that Jesus knows the best thing for you too. When you have problems, you can trust that even if Jesus doesn’t help you right away. He will help you the best way possible. You only have to wait.
(Read John 11:45-53.)
“Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in Him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
“’What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘Here is this man performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.’
“Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’
“He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take His life.”
Why did the priests want to kill Jesus?
He was getting too powerful. People were listening to Jesus instead of to the priests, and they didn’t like that. The priests wanted people to only listen to them.
They were also afraid that the Romans might come and make war on them for letting Jesus get too powerful. The Romans wanted people to serve the Roman Emperor, not Jesus. Everyone was getting jealous of Jesus and how much people liked Him instead of them.
Game: Lazarus Tag
Pick one student to be Death and another student to be Jesus. Death is It. When they tag someone, that person must freeze in place, like they’re dead. Jesus, however, can tag the person and unfreeze them, just like Jesus brought Lazarus back from the dead. Death cannot tag Jesus. Play as long as time allows, switching roles every so often so that everyone gets to be Death and Jesus.
Craft: Looking Forward
Remind students that when Jesus comes back, He will bring everyone who believed in Him to back to life to live with Him forever. Then, give them drawing supplies and have them draw them a picture with someone who has died but whom Jesus will bring back to life. It could be a relative or someone famous they’d like to meet.
Jesus, we thank You that You will raise all of Your believers back to life one day, just like You raised Lazarus from the dead. Help us to keep believing in You and looking forward to that day. Amen.
You can also find this lesson for Kindle or in print in my book, He Came, He Saw, He Conquered.