John 11

11:1  Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany1, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
    PEREA TO BETHANY. RAISING OF LAZARUS. John 11:1-46

  1. Bethany. See Luke 10:38.

11:2  And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment1, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus2 was sick.

  1. And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment. See shows. For a similar anticipation, see Matthew 10:4 . There are fiveprominent Marys in the New Testament: those of Nazareth, Magdala, andBethany ( Matthew 1:18 ; Matthew 27:56 ; Luke 10:39 ); the mother of Mark ( Acts 12:12 ),and the wife of Cleopas ( John 19:25 ).

  2. Lazarus. On this name, see Luke 16:20 .

11:3  The sisters therefore sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick1.

  1. Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. The message and its form both indicate the close intimacy between this family and Christ. Theymake no request, trusting that Jesus' love will bring him to Bethany.

11:4  But when Jesus heard it, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God1, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby2.

  1. This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God. The sickness of Lazarus was for the purpose or design of a resurrection, sothat death was a mere preceding incident.

  2. That the Son of God may be glorified thereby. By this resurrection the Son of God would be glorified by manifesting more clearly than everbefore that death came under his Messianic dominion, and by gatheringbelievers from amongst his enemies. In all this the Father would alsobe glorified in the Son.

11:5  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus1.

  1. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. In this passage we have two Greek words for love. In John 11:3 John 11:36 we havethe Greek word "philein", which expresses natural affection such as aparent feels for a child. In this verse we have "agapan", an affectionresulting from moral choice, loftier and less impulsive. We are told ofthe Lord's love that we may understand that his delay was not due toindifference.

11:6  When therefore he heard that he was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place where he was1.

  1. When therefore he heard that he was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place where he was. It is urged that the exigencies of hisministry delayed Jesus in Perea. But the import of the texts is that hekept away because of his love for the household of Lazarus and hisdesire to bless his disciples. He delayed that he might discipline andperfect the faith of the sisters and disciples. He withheld hisblessing that he might enlarge it. Strauss pronounces it immoral inChrist to let his friend die in order to glorify himself by a miracle.In the vocabulary of Strauss, "glorification" means the gratificationof personal vanity, but in the language of Christ it means therevelation of himself as the divine Savior, that men may believe andreceive the blessing of salvation.

11:7  Then after this he saith to the disciples, Let us go into Judaea again1.

  1. Let us go into Judaea again. The word "again" refers back to he has friends, but to go back to Judea, the land of hostility. In sodoing he caused them to think of his death, of which he had some timebeen seeking to accustom them to think.

11:8  The disciples say unto him, Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone thee1; and goest thou thither again?

  1. The Jews were but now seeking to stone thee. See John 10:31 .

11:9  Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

    John 11:9 John 11:10

  1. Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. This parabolicexpression resembles that at John 9:4 . In this passage, day representsthe alloted season of life which was to be terminated by what Jesuscalled "his hour" ( John 2:4 ; John 7:30 ; John 8:20 ; John 13:1 ). Until this "hour" came,Jesus felt no fear. He did not thrust himself into danger, thustempting God; but he feared not to go whither his duty and the spiritled him. As yet it was still day, but the evening shadows were falling,and the powers of darkness were soon to prevail ( Luke 22:53 ), andthen the further prosecution of the work would lead to death, for deathwas part of the work, and had its allotted time and place.

11:11  These things spake he: and after this he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep1.

    John 11:11-13

  1. Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Jesus had before this spoken of death under the figureof sleep ( Luke 8:52 ).

11:12  The disciples therefore said unto him, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover.

  1. Lord, if he sleepeth, he shall do well. The disciples might have understood him to mean death in this case had theynot misunderstood his promise given at( John 11:4 ).As it was, they looked upon the mentioned sleep as marking thecrisis of disease, as it so often does in cases of fever. Theywere glad to urge it as an evidence of complete recovery, andthus remove one of the causes of the dreaded journey into Judea.

11:15  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there1, to the intent ye may believe2; nevertheless let us go unto him.

  1. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there. Had Jesus been present during the sickness of Lazarus, he would have felt constrainedto heal him, and so would have lost the opportunity of presenting tohis disciples a more striking proof of his divine power, a proof whichhas been the joy of each succeeding age.

  2. To the intent ye may believe. The disciples were soon to learn by sad experience how little belief they really had ( Mark 14:50 ; Mark 16:11 Luke 24:11 Luke 24:21 Luke 24:25 ).

11:16  Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him2.

  1. Thomas . . . who is called Didymus. See Mark 3:18.

  2. Let us also go, that we may die with him. That is, die with Christ. See John 11:8 . They could not die with Lazarus, as some have foolishlysupposed, for he was already dead. This mention of Thomas is closelyconnected with the thought in John 11:15 . Jesus was about to work amiracle for the express purpose of inducing his disciples to believe inhim, especially as to his power over death. In this despairing speechThomas shows how little faith he had in Christ's ability to cope withdeath. Thomas sadly needed to witness the miracle of the resurrectionof Lazarus, and even after seeing it, it proved insufficient to sustainhis faith in the ordeal through which he was about to pass( John 20:25-29 ).

11:17  So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already1.

  1. So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. If Lazarus was buried on the day he died, as is the customin the East, and in hot climates generally ( Acts 5:6 Acts 5:10 ), he probablydied on the day that the messengers brought word to Jesus about hissickness. If so, Jesus set forth for Bethany on the third day andarrived there on the fourth. The resurrections wrought by Jesus areprogressional manifestations of power. Jairus' daughter was raisedimmediately after death ( Mark 5:41 ; Luke 8:54 ), the young man of Nain wasbeing carried to his grave ( Luke 7:12 ), and Lazarus was buried fourdays. All these were preparatory to that last and greatestmanifestation of resurrectional power--the raising of his own body.

11:18  Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off1;

  1. About fifteen furlongs off. The furlong, or stadium, was 1,600 feet; so that the distance here was 1-7/8 miles.

11:19  and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother1.

  1. And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. These Jews were present four days afterthe death because Jewish custom prolonged the season of mourning.( Genesis 1:3 Genesis 1:10 ; Numbers 20:29 ; Deuteronomy 34:8 ; 1 Samuel 28:13 ). The Mishna prescribed sevendays for near relatives, and the rules as laid down by rabbis, requiredseven days' public and thirty days' private mourning for distinguishedor important personages.

11:20  Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him1: but Mary still sat in the house.

  1. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him. Jesus evidently paused on the outskirts of the town. He probablywished to avoid the noisy conventional wailing, the hypocrisy of whichwas distasteful to him ( Mark 5:40 ). It comports with the businesslikecharacter of Martha as depicted by Luke to have heard of our Lord'sarrival before Mary. She was probably discharging her duty towards theguests and new arrivals, as was her wont. See notes on Luke 10:38-42 .

11:21  Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died1.

    John 11:21 John 11:22

  1. Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. We might take it that Martha confidently expected the Lord to raise Lazarus,were it not for the subsequent conversation and especially( John 11:39 ). We must therefore look upon her hope as more vague thanher words would indicate. Such vague and illusive hopes are commonwhere a great expectation, such as she had before indulged, had butlately departed.

11:23  Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again1.

  1. Thy brother shall rise again. Instead of saying, "I will raise Lazarus", Jesus uses the wholly impersonal phrase "thy brother shallrise again", for it was this very impersonal feature of faith which hewished to correct.

11:24  Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day1.

  1. I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Martha assents at once. The doctrine of a resurrection was commonlyheld by all the Jews except the Sadducees. It was in their view,however, a remote, impersonal affair, a very far distant eventpowerless to comfort in bereavement. From this comparatively cheerlesshope, Jesus would draw Martha to look upon "himself" as bothresurrection and life.

11:25  Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life1: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live;

  1. I am the resurrection, and the life. Where Jesus is there is life, and there also is resurrection at his word without limitation. No mereman, if sane, could have uttered such words. They mean that Jesus isthe power which raises the dead and bestows eternal life( John 6:39-54 ; John 10:28 ).

11:27  She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God1, [even] he that cometh into the world.

  1. Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God. She could not say she believed it, for Lazarus had believed in Jesusand yet he had died. So, evading the question ( John 11:26 ), sheconfessed her faith in him. Believing him, she accepted whatever hemight say. She responds in the words of that apostolic creed which, inits ultimate application, embraces all that is true and discards allthat is false ( Matthew 16:16 ; John 6:68 John 6:69 ; John 20:31 ; 1 John 5:1-5 ).See Mark 8:29.

11:28  And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly1, saying, The Teacher is her, and calleth thee.

  1. She went away, and called Mary her sister secretly. She called Mary secretly, for she wished that Mary might have a private word with Jesussuch as she had just had.

11:29  And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him1.

  1. And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him. Moved by ardent feeling.

11:31  The Jews then who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there2.

  1. The Jews then . . . followed her. According to Eastern custom, the Jews followed her as friends, to assist in the demonstration ofmourning. This frustrated the effort of Martha to keep secret theLord's coming, and caused the miracle to be wrought in the presence ofa mixed body of spectators.

  2. Supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there. Rather, to wait ( Matthew 2:18 ; Mark 5:38 ).

11:32  Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw him, fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died2.

  1. Mary . . . fell down at his feet. In grief and dependence, but with less self-control than Martha.

  2. Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. That both sisters used this phrase ( John 11:21 ), shows that it is an echo ofthe past feelings and conversation of the sisters. It is clean thatthey felt hurt at his not coming sooner, as he could have done.

11:33  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews [also] weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit1, and was troubled,

  1. He groaned in the spirit. The verb translated "groaned" carries in it the idea of indignation. But the fact that sin had brought suchmisery to those he loved was enough to account for the feeling.

11:34  and said, Where have ye laid him1? They say unto him, Lord, come and see.

  1. Where have ye laid him? This question was designed to bring all parties to the tomb; it was not asked for information. See also Mark 5:30 ; John 6:5 .

11:35  Jesus wept1.

  1. Jesus wept. This is not the Greek verb for wailing ("klaio"), but for shedding tears ("dakruo"). On another occasion, when Jesus saw withprophetic eye a vast city, the center of God's chosen nation, sweepingon to destruction, he lamented aloud ( Luke 19:41 ), but here, as afriend, he mingled his quiet tears with the two broken-hearted sisters,thus assuring us of his sympathy with the individual grief of eachlowly disciple ( Romans 12:15 ). Nor did the nearness of comfort preventhis tears. They were tears of sympathy. Says Neander,

    "A sympathetic physician in the midst of a family drowned in grief,--will not his tears flow with theirs, though he knows that he has the power of giving immediate relief?"

11:37  But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die1?

  1. Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die? Knowing the miracle which hehad performed upon a blind man ( John 9:1-13 ), they could therefore seeno reason why he should not have performed one here.

11:38  Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it1.

  1. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. These stones were frequently in the shape of large grindstones resting in a groove, sothat they could be rolled in front of the door of the tomb. Tombs hadto be closed securely to keep out jackals and other ravenous beasts.

11:39  Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone1. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time the body decayeth; for he hath been [dead] four days2.

  1. Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone. Miracles only begin where human power ends.

  2. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time the body decayeth; for he hath been [dead] four days. Marthaevidently thought that Jesus wished to see the remains of his friend,and her sisterly feeling prompted her to conceal the humiliatingravages of death. Her words show how little expectation of aresurrection she had.

11:40  Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God1?

  1. Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Jesus reminds her of his words which are recordedin John 11:25 John 11:26 and of the message which he sent, found in

11:41  So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me1.

    John 11:41 John 11:42

  1. Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. Jesus, dwelling in constant communion with the Father, knew that the Father concurred inhis wish to raise Lazarus. He therefore makes public acknowledgment,and offers a prayer of thanksgiving, for the Father's gracious answerto this and all his petitions.

11:42  And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the multitude that standeth around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me.

  1. That they may believe that thou didst sent me. He states, too, that the prayer is publicly made that it may induce faith in the bystanders.He wished all present to know that the miracle about to be wrought isnot the work of some independent wonder-worker, but is performed by himas one commissioned and sent of God. In other words, the miracle waswrought to prove the concord between the Son and the Father, the veryfact which the Jews refused to believe. Rationalists criticize thisprayer as a violation of the principle at Matthew 6:5 Matthew 6:6 ), and Weissecalled it "prayer for show". But it shows on its face that it is notuttered by Jesus to draw admiration to himself as a praying man, but toinduce faith unto salvation in those who heard.

11:43  And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice1, Lazarus, come forth2.

  1. He cried with a loud voice. The loud cry emphasized the fact that the miracle was wrought by personal authority, and not by charms,incantations, or other questionable means. His voice was as it were anearnest of the final calling which all shall hear ( John 5:28 John 5:29 1 Thessalonians 4:16 ; Revelation 1:5 ).

  2. Lazarus, come forth. It has been happily said he called Lazarus by name, lest all the dead should rise.

11:44  He that was dead came forth1, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes2; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

  1. He that was dead came forth. It is thought by some that Lazarus walked forth from the tomb, and the fact that the Egyptians sometimesswathed their mummies so as to keep the limbs and even the fingersseparate is cited to show that Lazarus was not so bound as to preventmotion.

  2. Bound hand and foot with grave-clothes. But the grave-clothes were like a modern shroud, wrapped around arms and legs, and mummies alsowere thus wrapped after their limbs were swathed. It was part of themiracle that Lazarus came out bound hand and foot, and John putsemphasis upon it.

11:46  But some of them1 went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done2.

  1. But some of them. Some of the class mentioned in John 11:37 .

  2. Went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. By the miracle Jesus had won many from the ranks of hisenemies, but others, alarmed at this deflection, rush off to tell thePharisees about this new cause for alarm. Farrar argues that these mayhave gone to the Pharisees with good intentions toward Jesus, butsurely no friend of Jesus could have been so hasty to communicate withhis enemies. But the way in which the Evangelist separates these fromthe believers of John 11:45 , stamps their action as unquestionablyhostile.

11:47  The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council1, and said, What do we2? for this man doeth many signs3.

    RETIRING BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN'S DECREE. (Jerusalem and Ephraim in Judea.) John 11:47-54

  1. The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council. Called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

  2. And said, What do we? Thus they reproach one another for having done nothing in a present and urgent crisis. As two of their number(Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea) were afterwards in communicationswith Christians, it was easy for the disciples to find out whatoccurred on this notable occasion.

  3. For this man doeth many signs. They did not deny the miracles, therefore their conduct was the more inexcusable.

11:48  If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him1: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation2.

  1. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him. They found that despite the threat of excommunication, Jesus was still winningdisciples under the very shadow of Jerusalem.

  2. And the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. The course of Jesus seemed to undermine Judaism, and toleave it a prey to the innovations of Rome. It is uncertain what ismeant by the word "place". Meyer says it refers to Jerusalem; Luecke tothe temple; while Bengel says that place and nation are a proverbialexpression, meaning "our all"; but the Greek language furnishes noexample of such proverbial use. It is more likely that place refers totheir seats in the Sanhedrin, which they would be likely to lose if theinfluence of Jesus became, as they feared, the dominant power. Theyfeared then that the Romans would, by removing them, take away the lastvestige of civil and ecclesiastical authority, and then eventuallyobliterate the national life.

11:49  But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all2,

    John 11:49 John 11:50

  1. Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year. That notable, fatal year; he was high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36.

  2. Said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, etc. His words are a stinging rebuke, which may be paraphrased thus: "If you had any senseyou would not sit there asking, 'What do we?' when there is but onething to do; viz., Let Jesus die and save the people". Expediency, notjustice, is his law.

11:51  Now this he said not of himself1: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation;

  1. Now this he said not of himself. The expression "not of himself" is a very common Hebrew idiom for "not of himself only". God had ameaning in his words different from his own. In earlier, better daysthe high priest had represented the divine headship of the nation, andthrough him, by means of the Urim and Thummin, the inspired oracles anddecisions had been wont to come. This exalted honor had been lostthrough unworthiness. But now, according to the will of God, the highpriest prophesies in spite of himself, as did Balaam and Saul,performing the office without the honor.

11:52  and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad1.

  1. That he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. See Galatians 3:28 ; Colossians 3:1 .

11:53  So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death1.

  1. So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death. Thus, acting on the advice of Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin condemnedJesus without a hearing and sought means to carry their condemnation toexecution. Quieting their consciences by professing to see suchpolitical dangers as made it necessary to kill Jesus for the publicwelfare, they departed utterly from justice, and took the course whichbrought them upon the very evils which they were professedly seeking toavoid.

11:54  Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed thence into the country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim1; and there he tarried with the disciples.

  1. Into a city called Ephraim. Ephraim is supposed to be the city called Ophrah at Joshua 18:23 and Ephraim at 2 Chronicles 13:19 . Dr. Robinsonand others and others identify it with the village now called elTaiybeh, which is situated on a conical-shaped hill about sixteen milesnortheast of Jerusalem and five miles east of Bethel. It is on theborders of a wilderness, and commands an extensive view of the Jordanvalley. Here Jesus remained till shortly before his last Passover.

11:55  Now the passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, to purify themselves1.

    JESUS ARRIVES AND IS FEASTED AT BETHANY. (From Friday afternoon till Saturday Night, March 31 and April 1, A.D. 30.) Matthew 26:6-13 ; Mark 14:3-9 ; John 11:55-12:11

  1. And many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, to purify themselves. These Jews went up before thePassover that they might have time to purify themselves from ceremonialuncleanness before the feast. They were expected to purify before anyimportant event ( Exodus 19:10 Exodus 19:11 ), and did so before the Passover( 2 Chronicles 30:13-20 ), for those who were ceremonially unclean wereexcluded from it ( John 18:28 ).

11:56  They sought therefore for Jesus, and spake one with another, as they stood in the temple, What think ye? That he will not come to the feast?

    John 11:56 John 11:57

  1. What think ye? That he will not come to the feast? The decree of the Sanhedrin ordering the arrest of Jesus led the people to questionas to whether he would dare to approach the city. But this mention ofit, and the stir and question which it created have a darksignificance. It shows that the Jews generally were forewarned of theevil purpose of the Sanhedrin, and the dangers which surrounded Jesus.They were not taken unawares when their rulers told them to raise thecry "Crucify him"! And they raised it after they had due notice andtime for deliberation.