Summary: Travels with Jesus…Bethany – with grieving friends - John chapter 11 verses 17-44 – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:

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(1). The Comfort of Knowing God Cares.

(2). The Comfort of Knowing God’s Presence.

(3). The Comfort of Knowing God’s Promise.

(4). The Comfort of Knowing That God Has a Plan.



• Neil Thomas Douglas, is a photographer;

• Who was travelling to Galway from Glasgow via Stansted to photograph a wedding.

• When he got on his Ryanair flight,

• He noticed that there was already a man in his seat.

• He politely asked him to move and when the guy looked up,

• The 32 year old got the shock of his life!

• The man sitting in his seat was 35 year old Robert Stirling,

• Whose striking similarities means he could easily be his twin brother.

• (Google story for photos or email me)

• Now that was bizarre;

• But it turns out that they both also booked into the same hotel in Galway;

• And later that night they both ‘bumped’ into each other at the same pub.

• TRANSITION: Bizarre and strange things can happen when you travel!

• As illustrated in the story of Neil Douglass and Robert Stirling.

• The story we are looking at this morning starts in a bizarre way:

• Verse 6 tells us that when Jesus got news from the two sisters,

• And this news was an emergency-come-quickly cry for help message.

• He stays where he was for two days!

• He is in no hurry to go and he sends no message back to the sisters,

• They are left in silence watching their brother Lazarus die!

• Well, let us park the story there for a moment;

• And we will come back to it in a few minutes time.

• Now in our travels with Jesus we have arrived at Bethany.

• Question: What do we know about Bethany?

• Answer: Some facts & trivia regarding Bethany.:


• Its origin:

• Bethany first became a settlement, a village in the 6th century B.C.


• Its name Bethany means…well actually the experts can’t agree on its meaning;

• Some say it means, 'house of song', others 'house of affliction', others, 'house of figs'.

• Still others say; 'house of the poor'

• Ancient Bethany was the site of an almshouse for the poor;

• And a place of care for the sick.

• i.e. Mark in his gospel tells of Simon the Leper's house there (14:3-10);


• Its location:

• Bethany was a small village on the eastern slope of Mount Olivet:

• About four miles from Jerusalem.

• Today it is an Arab village called ‘Al-Azariyeh’, an Arabic version of Lazarus.

• The original village was probably higher up the hill to the west of the tomb of Lazarus.


• The gospel writers sometimes refer to the village as ‘his’ (Jesus) base;

• When going in and out of Jerusalem.

• (Matthew chapter 21 verse 17; Mark chapter 11 verses 11,12&19).


• It’s popularity.

• Bethany or 'El-Azarieh' is a popular pilgrimage site;

• Because it contains a house believed to be 2,000 years old.

• It is believed ‘by some’ (mainly the tourist board);

• To be the House of Martha, Mary & Lazarus,

• Well, it at least serves as a reminder of a house from that time period.

• Bethany also hosts the now well-visited “Tomb of Lazarus”

• Which is located at the southeast edge of the ancient village ruins.


• Three people lived in one particular house at Bethany.

• They were close friends of Jesus, and Jesus visited them on a number of occasions.

• The home at Bethany belonged to Martha (Luke chapter 10 verse 38).

• Which might indicate that she was a widow.


• For Jesus this was not just a house but a home,

• It was an oasis, a hideaway, somewhere to go and relax!

• Here he can switch off and relax, he can ‘recharge his batteries’.

• Because he is able to enjoy the company of his three special friends:

• Mary, Martha & Lazarus.

• Friends who won’t demand miracles or ask leading questions.

• They just want to enjoy him and his company.

• It’s a home where He knows He is loved and accepted,

• Where He knows He can rest.

• Note: Jesus could relax in this home:

• So much so that in his final week (passion week);

• Jesus stayed in Bethany, traveling into the city each day.


• Four specific events are recalled in the Gospels, set in the village of Bethany.

• FIRST: It was the setting for the incident of Mary & Martha.

• (Luke chapter 10).

• When Martha had her priorities wrong and was busy doing;

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