John 11

Death and resurrection of Lazarus
Text Comments
.1 ¶ Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
 2  (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
.3  Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
.4  When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
 5  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
  1 - Bethany A town about 1.7 miles or 1 km. southeast of Jerusalem on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. See map.
  2 - Mary which anointed John tells the story at the beginning of the next chapter jn1201.
  3 - Lovest As a friend, phileo.
  4 - Not unto death But Lazarus did die. Jesus was speaking of permanent death from which there is no resurrection re2006a. We will understand better as we continue in this chapter.
  5 - Loved From the Greek agapao indicating deep, pure love of of God as used in jn0316 and 1jo0408 and for other Christians jn1334, 1jo0407.
 6  When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
 7  Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
 8  His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
.9  Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
 10  But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
  6 - Abode [stayed] two days Following the comment about love for the family, it is clear that Jesus had a purpose and was not following human inclination.
  8 - Goest thou thither? A logical question from a human view. See on v1.
  9 - Twelve hours This was the daylight time which could be estimated by the position of the sun. Of course the length of an hour varied during the year.
  9 - Walk in the day But it seemed that He was doing just the opposite. He had apparently passed over His opportunity to heal Lazarus. Compare jn0904.
  9 - Light of this world Humans can live in harmony with the world while denying spiritual light and their dependence on God.
  10 - No light in him Light, physical and spiritual, comes from God mt0622f. Christ was here about to act in a way that defied natural principles. He was going to walk in what, for us, would be darkness! As humans, we have no original light, but our Lord has life in himself jn0526 which was the light of men. See on jn0104.
.11  These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
.12  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
 13  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
.14  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
.15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
 16  Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
  11 - After that In writing, John apparently wanted us to connect what Jesus had just said with what follows.
  11 - Lazarus [is sleeping] The reaction of the disciples in the next verse indicates that pagan Greek ideas had been taught to the people and had influenced even the disciples. The idea of death being a sleep is clear in the Old Testament. David was told he would sleep 2sa0712; ps01303. Also 1ki1524. Lazarus was not sleeping in heaven v43. Also see how Peter understood death. ac1336. For more on death go.
  16 - Thomas This name and "Didymus" both mean "twin." Going to Bethany, a suburb of Jerusalem was very dangerous from a human viewpoint.
 17 ¶ Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
.18  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
 19  And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
.20  Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
.21  Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
 22  But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
 23  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
.24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
.25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
.26  And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
 27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
  18 - Nigh About 1.7 miles or 2.7 km.
  19 - Jews John uses this term a number of times for Jewish leaders jn0301, jn0119, jn0206. Here, we expect that they were simply Jewish friends with a spy or two who had been following Jesus (See v46.) Of course all the people in the story were ethnic Jews. John apparently wrote to Greek readers.
  20 - Martha She was more active than her sister as we recall from her meal preparation lu1038. But here she was certainly seeking Jesus.
  21 - If thou hadst been here She was right lu0617, v15.
  22 - Whatsoever Were there other conditions which Martha already understood? 1jo0322.
  25 - I am the resurrection He is the one who calls those sleeping in death to awaken.
  26 - Never die Jesus told the disciples that Lazarus was dead v14. He had also said Lazarus wouldn't die v4. Sleep is a metaphor for death and Jesus used "death" in the literal sense to clarify it for the disciples (and us). So from this discussion, we can see what Jesus meant that a living believer would never die jn1028. They would not go anywhere when their physical life ended but would rest as in sleep awaiting the resurrection when they would be awakened. For more on the topic of death, go.
.28  And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
 29  As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
 30  Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
 31  The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
 32  Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
  28 - Called Mary ... secretly And for good reason. They would not have wanted to be followed.
  31 - Jews ... followed Whether or not this was the desire of the sisters, it was in divine providence that the Jews followed. They needed to witness what was about to happen.
  32 - If thou hadst been here Martha had said the same thing v21 but with an added comment.
.33 ¶ When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
 34  And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
 35  Jesus wept.
 36  Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
 37  And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
  33 - Jews also weeping Apparently the wailing that culture demanded. See the word in mr0539.
  35 - Jesus wept Here "wept" is dakruo meaning crying with tears, appearing only here in the NT. He knew that He would restore Lazarus to life so His tears weren't about the loss of  Lazarus. He identified with humanity and felt bad realizing that they were hurting from their loss. And He cares when we are sorrowful, too is5304.
.38  Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
 39  Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
 40  Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
 41  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
 42  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
.43  And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
.44  And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
  39 - Take ye away The people were asked to remove the stone before Jesus spoke to Lazarus of Bethany. Human cooperation is expected to work with divine providence.
  39 - Stinketh ... four days Evidence that the miracle would not be a deception.
  43 - Come forth He didn't say, Lazarus come down from your happy home in heaven and find your body.
  44 - Come forth Notice that Jesus did not call Lazarus down from heaven or up from the center of the earth.
   The resurrection of Lazarus is very significant. Often Jesus had told those He healed not to tell others mr0734. Publicity sitrred up the Jewish religious leaders and threatened to cut short His ministry to the people. This resurrection was only days before His crucifixion and well known by the public. Although it made the leaders angry they could not deny it. Many who had been blessed by Jesus' ministry now accepted Him. Two earlier resurrections had had less attention lu0711, lu0852.
.45 ¶ Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
.46  But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
.47  Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
 48  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
  What more evidence did they need that Jesus was the Messiah? They simply closed their minds to the conclusion that would interfere with their selfish ambition.
  48 - The Romans shall come They did come but not because of Jesus. See on lu2120.
.49  And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
 50  Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
 51  And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
 52  And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
  49 - Caiaphas See mt2657, lu0302.
  50 - Expedient that one man ... die See a similar thought in ge4305. The church has reasoned in a similar way. See below.
  51 - Prophesied He was right but not in the sense he intended. Jesus died for the people of that nation and, as the next verse says, for all "children of God".
 53  Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
.54  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
 55  And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
 56  Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
 57  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.
  54 - Ephriam Generally thought to be a place close to Bethel. See map.
  55 - Purify themselves For the rules, see 2ch3017, nu0909. Purity to eat the passover was very important to the priests jn1828.
  56 - Sought They looked for Him in earnest. After the resurrection of Lazarus which disproved the ideas of the Saddusees, both parties were united in seeking the death of Jesus.
His right? "The Pope can kill by a single word; for having received the right of making pasture for the sheep, has he not received the right of cutting the throats of wolves?" Emmanuel Sa, Portuguese Jesuit, 1596. Quoted in Vatican Assassins, Eric Phelps, 2001, p.100. relating to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Compare ro1219.
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