God’s Love Allows Pain and Loss

John 11:1–6, Part 3

If Jesus loved Lazarus enough to let him die, what can we learn from this story about true love? John Piper looks at Jesus’s love and unfolds three important principles for how we should love one another.

Principle for Bible Reading

The word “Therefore” (or “So”) is one of the most important and most overlooked words in all the Bible. A “therefore” says that what follows is an inference or conclusion from what came before. That logical relationship is often packed with meaning and significance. This little word is important in the letters of the Bible, but also in the narrative sections, as well.

Study Questions

  1. Explain the “So” at the beginning of John 11:6 (again, if you have worked through the questions on the previous lab). How does what comes before the “So” explain what comes after? And how does what Jesus says in John 11:4 inform your explanation?
  2. Read Jesus’s prayer in John 17. How does his prayer, especially verses 1–5 and 24 affect your understand of love (his love for us, and our love for others)?
  3. It says Jesus loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. What does John 11:1–6 teach us about love?

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–02:50)

Jesus Loved Lazarus and Let Him Die (02:50–04:48)

  • What do we learn from “So” at the beginning of John 11:6?
  • John is underlining the love Jesus feels for Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in the previous verse. (John 11:5)
  • Because Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (John 11:5), he stayed two days longer and let Lazarus die (John 11:6).
  • Mary and Martha (and Lazarus) experienced terrible pain, and Jesus could have spared them if he had left sooner.
  • The word “therefore” (or “so”) have been massively important in letters of the New Testament (e.g., Romans), but they are just as important in narrative portions of the Bible.

Lazarus Died for God’s Glory (04:48–07:00)

  • How could Jesus’s failing to leave possibly be construed as love?
  • Jesus says that this illness does not lead to death, but is meant to bring God (and his Son) glory. (John 11:4)
  • Jesus let Lazarus die so that Lazarus, Mary, and Martha (and lots of other people) would see the glory of God.
  • Jesus says the same thing (John 11:4) again in John 11:39–40.
  • Jesus makes clear that the illness is for God’s glory in that he will raise Lazarus from the dead. (John 11:39–40)

Three Lessons About Love (07:00–12:40)

  1. God’s love often allows pain and loss.
  2. Love means doing what you must to help the beloved see and savor the glory of God forever. (John 17:1–5, 24)
  3. Love labors and suffers to enthrall the beloved with what is in infinitely and eternally satisfying, namely God (the glory of God). Love is always God-centered.