Lesson: Why Did Jesus Wait Before He Helped Lazarus?

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Adults find it difficult to wait, so that challenge increases for a child.  This lesson teaches children one reason the Lord may choose  for them to wait and the helps them grasp His love for them in the process.  This lesson can be used for Children’s Church or Sunday School. We also have a post based on this same Bible passage that is focused on Jesus’ power to raise the dead.

Bible Story: Jesus Waited Before He Helped Lazarus
Scripture: John 11:1-45
Target Age Group: Age 7 – 12 (U.S. 1st – 6th Grade)
Time: 30 Minutes
Learning Context: Children’s Church
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Learning Objectives:  After this lesson…

  • Children express their knowledge of the key people and events in this passage by retelling the story.
  • Children express what they learn about the purpose of Jesus’ delay to helping Lazarus.
  • Children learn to honestly express their feelings when Jesus fails to come help immediately.
  • Children recognize the Lord’s love for them in hard times.

Material Needed:

  • Bible:  John 11:1-45.  Prepare before hand a copy of the important points highlighted to ensure specific explanations on them.
  • Visual Aids:  Pictures of Jesus, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (one of him at tomb if possible). Try searching those names on Google Images.

Teaching Plan
Introduce the Characters: Establish the lesson by briefly explaining who the key people to the story are by showing pictures of Jesus, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and their role.  Make sure the children repeat their names.
Active Listening: Prior to reading the story, divide the children into two groups and ask one half to listen for the reason for Jesus’ delay and how He responded to their pain.  Ask the other half of the children to identify the feelings of Mary and Martha and how they might feel if Jesus failed to come and make their brother or sister well.
Bible Reading: Read (and Recap) John 11:1-45.  Read using different voice inflections and stop to involve the children into the story.  Reinforce the lesson by asking questions during your reading.  Who did Mary and Martha ask to help their brother?  Jesus.  Did Jesus come as soon as He heard that Lazarus was sick?  No.  What same words did Martha and Mary say to Jesus?  “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.”  How did Jesus respond to Mary’s crying?  He cried.  Say to the children, “If we are honest, we all would be upset that Jesus didn’t come right away and allowed our brother to die, but why do you think Jesus cried when He knew He was going to raise Lazarus?” (Help the children understand that Jesus cares when we feel abandoned by Him in our time of need and don’t understand what He is going to do to help us.)
Review & Active Listening Response: When you’re finished reading the story, use the pictures to review the important people and event in the story.
Ask for a response from the children about their listening assignment. What did they learn about Jesus’ purpose for delaying to help Lazarus and how he responded to the sister’s pain?  How did Mary and Martha feel about Jesus’ delay and do they feel about letting Lazarus die?
Act Out the Story: Select volunteers to role-play the parts of Jesus, Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and some disciples.  Choose an older student to narrate the story and reiterate the fact that Jesus had a purpose in delaying His journey to Mary and Martha.  This would also be a good time to reinforce God’s trustworthiness in caring for what is best for us.
Lesson Evaluation:

  • Ask for volunteers to retell the story to the class with role-play.  Assign the children the role of Jesus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and some disciples.  Ask for one child to narrate the story in the places the others do not speak.  Remember to prompt the children by asking, “What happened next?”
  • Ask for a volunteer to explain the reason Jesus delayed coming to help Lazarus and possible feelings of the sisters toward Jesus for allowing Lazarus to die.  (Help the children understand that the sisters probably felt angry and abandoned by Jesus at first but how the Lord can handle when we have feelings like this and in time helps us learn to trust Him more from difficult times like this.)

Agree or Disagree Review: Give a list of possible lessons and ask the children to say “amen” if it was part of the story.

  1. Jesus healed those who are blind and deaf.  True, but not part of this story.
  2. Jesus healed someone from far away. True, but not part of this story.
  3. Jesus delayed helping someone He loved.  Yes.
  4. Jesus raised someone from the dead.  Yes.
  5. Jesus calmed the storm.  True, but not part of this story.
  6. Jesus cried.  Yes.

Need More Ideas? Then browse our free game ideas for children’s ministry. You can also ask questions in our children’s ministry forums.

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