When A Loved One Dies (Genesis 23)

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In Scripture we find that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. However, we live in an age between the “already and the not yet” in which death is still a reality. In this message Stephen shares with us about the reality of death, the reality of grief and how Christians should support those who grieve, but most importantly, he shares with us about the reality of hope in Christ Jesus and how in him we will all be made alive.

These questions can be used as ice-breakers in the beginning OR interwoven between the questions below to draw the group into the discussion.

1. Have you ever been caught off guard by someone’s death? How did you react to the news? How do you feel about “death”? Briefly share.
2. Have you ever experienced peace and joy in the midst of loss? Where did it come from? Have you ever been able to bring comfort to someone in the midst of their loss? Briefly share.
3. How do you cope with the fact that our lives here on Earth are relatively short? Why is the Christian reaction to death different than that of other religions / cultures?

1. In 5 minutes or less. Briefly give a synopsis of this week’s sermon. What insight, principle, or observation from this weekend’s message did you find to be most helpful, eye-opening, or troubling? Explain.

2. Read John 11: 17-37:

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”
28 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.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 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.
32 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.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

• Read John 11:1-5 and explain the context of this story. Place emphasis on Jesus’ relationship with the main characters in the story.
• In verse 3 we read that Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, yet in verse 17 we find out that Lazarus had already been dead for four days before Jesus got there. Have you ever found yourself in a place where you feel God is not answering your prayers? Did you loose hope? In this story, Jesus had heard about Lazarus’ sickness yet chose to wait before he went to meet them. Do you believe Jesus had a purpose in that? Do you believe Jesus has a purpose when he has you wait? What are some lessons you have learned as you wait in the Lord?
• What does Mary and Martha’s reaction to the news that Jesus was coming tell you about the different ways in which they grieve the death of their brother (v. 20)? When you find yourself in a difficult situation, do you find it difficult to seek Jesus?
• Even though Jesus knew what was going to happen, in verse 35 we read that he wept when he was taken to Lazarus. What does that tell you of Jesus’ heart for us? How does knowing that we have a God that feels for us and even grieves with us make you feel?
• What’s different about what Martha says to Jesus when he first sees him from what Mary tells him (vv. 21-22, 32)?
• In verses 21 through 27 we see Jesus speak truth into Martha’s situation and as a result, Martha’s heart is changed. How can the truth of Jesus transform our hearts? Have you ever been in a difficult situation in which you had to hold on to Jesus and his truth in order to “survive”? Briefly share.

3. In verses 25 and 26 Jesus says: “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

• How does this truth bring hope to your life?
• Are you currently going through a situation in which you desperately need to hold on to this truth?
• Are there any areas in your life in which you still need God’s kingdom to break through?
• Please take time to pray for each other, especially for those in need of hope and comfort.

Please also encourage persons in your small group to participate in the following Family Mess follow-up seminar:

When a loved one dies: help for hurting people
Tuesday, October 12th, 7-9pm
What is grief? How long will it take to feel better? This seminar will help you learn ways to navigate the grief process from a Christian perspective.
Contact: Toni.King@vineyardcolumbus.org / 614.259.5289