John 11:1-57 - Outline of John (Book Notes menu page)
The raising of Lazarus (ch. 11) took place during the four month period between the Feast of Dedication (Joh 10:22-42) and the final Passover of Jesus' ministry (11:55).
The gospels record three instances of Jesus raising the dead:
  1. a widow's son (Luk 7:11-16),
  2. a ruler's 12 year old daughter (Luk 8:40-46; cp. Mat 9:18-26; Mark 5:22-43),
  3. Lazarus (John ch. 11).
11:1 Now a certain [man] was sick,
[named] Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
11:2 (It was [that] Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment,
and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
11:3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying,
Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
Mary and Martha- cp. Luk 10:38-42. Lazarus is mentioned only in John ch. 11 and Joh 12:10.
it was that Mary...- By the time John wrote his gospel, her story was already well known,
as Jesus had foretold (Mat 26:6-13). John will share his own account of that occasion in Joh 12:1-8.
behold, he whom thou lovedst is sick.- Notice that their petition to Him was not demanding.
They told Him of the need, but they let Him decide what He should do.
11:4 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.
11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
11:6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick,
he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
{cp. 10:39,40; 1:28}
sickness... for the glory of God...-
Sickness can be within the will of God for a believer. We cannot determine God's view of a man by looking at his health. cp. Eccl 9:1; 1Cor 4:5
     However, God may choose to reveal things about Himself, through human infirmities. eg., Joh 9:3; 2Cor 12:7-10
sickness... not unto death...- Yet, he died!
For the believer, physical death is not the end of life. cp. v.11; Mat 9:24; 10:28
Jesus loved... therefore... He abode two days still...- cp. Joh 15:9
God's love for us may include... prayer unanswered or delayed... sorrows unimagined and unexplained... But in His time, we will see that He does all things in love, and He does all things well. cp. 1Joh 4:18
He abode two days in the same place where He was.- cp. Joh 7:8
Jesus did nothing apart from the Father (5:19-21).
This delay, even with its consequent fallout of sorrow and death, was according to God's perfect will.
11:7 Then after that saith he to [his] disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
11:8 [His] disciples say unto him,
Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee
{8:59; 10:31}; and goest thou thither again?
11:9 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.
11:10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
twelve hours in the day.- Jesus is not suggesting that they will travel at night.
As the hours of a day are set by God, and cannot be altered by man, that which is done according to God's will, cannot be thwarted by man (or devil). cp. 7:30; 8:20
if any man walk in the day... he stumbleth not...-
Jesus, the Light of the world, would not be deflected from fulfilling God's will, by those who walk in darkness. God's Servant, obedient to His voice, would be kept in God's ways.
cp. Psa 91:9-13; Isa 50:5-11; Luk 9:51
if a man walk in the night... no light in him.- Natural man possesses no "inner light."
cp. Prov 4:19; Isa 59:10; Joh 3:19,20; 12:35,36,46
The powers of darkness would be frustrated in their purposes, until the appointed hour (Luk 22:53).
11:11 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.
11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
11:13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death:
but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
11:15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe;
nevertheless let us go unto him.
11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples,
Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Lazarus sleepeth.- Jesus knew that Lazarus had died.
Lazarus probably died just after the messengers left to find Jesus (cp. v.17).
The disciples knew only what the messengers had told them.
sleep... death- cp. Mat 9:24; Acts 7:60; 1Cor 15:51,52; 1Thes 4:13-18
The "sleep" of death applies to the body, not to the soul or spirit of believers.
  • At the close of life's day, our bodies rest in sleep. cp. Rev 14:13
  • Possessing eternal life, our souls and spirits do not cease from being. eg., Joh 10:27,28
  • Believers do not enter into 'soul-sleep,' but rather, are consciously in the presence of the Lord (cp. 2Cor 5:6,8; Php 1:23,24). Believers are joined to Christ, who is "the first-fruits of them that slept." He is not in 'soul-sleep.' 1Cor 15:20-23; Heb 7:25
  • Unbelievers, after death, are also conscious, and terribly aware of the truth which they had rejected. cp. Luk 16:22-24 (a different 'Lazarus').
Lazarus is dead... I am glad... that I was not there... that you may believe.-
No one ever died when Jesus was physically present. cp. v.21, v.32; Joh 1:4
Lazarus' death would glorify the Son of God (v.4) in whom the disciples needed to fully trust. cp. Joh 2:11; 14:10,11
Thomas (Aramaic for "a twin")... Didymus (GK for "a twin")- his twin is not identified in the NT.
let us also go...- The disciples understood the danger of following Jesus to Jerusalem (v.8),
but they were willing (at least, in spirit) to die with Him. cp. 13:36-38; Mat 26:35,41
11:17 Then when Jesus came,
he found that he had [lain] in the grave four days already.
11:18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
11:19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary,
to comfort them concerning their brother.
four days- The messengers had spent a day traveling to Jesus.
Jesus remained in that place for two days (v.6).
He and the disciples spent a fourth day in travel to Bethany.
Bethany- is located about 2 miles east of Jerusalem (on the east side of the Mt. of Olives).
11:20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him:
but Mary sat [still] in the house.
11:21 Then said Martha unto Jesus,
Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
11:22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give [it] thee.
if thou hadst been here...- Martha expressed regret and grief. She was not placing blame.
She knew that Lazarus had died before word had reached Jesus of his sickness.
even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God...- She also expressed faith.
However, she did not fully realize who Jesus is. cp. Joh 3:34,35
11:23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
11:24 Martha saith unto him,
I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die
{shall positively never die [Wuest]}.
Believest thou this?
the resurrection at the last day.- Martha's understanding was consistent with OT teaching:
eg., Job 19:25-27; Psa 17:15; 49:14,15; Isa 25:8; Dan 12:2
I am the resurrection and the life.-
(This is the fifth "I am..." statement of Christ. See also Joh 6:35; 8:12; 8:58; 10:7; 10:11; 14:6; 15:1)
  • I am...- Resurrection and Life are inherent in Him. cp. 5:21-26; 6:39,40
    Having "life in Himself," His power to give life is not limited to a future day.
  • the Resurrection... the Life.- There is no Resurrection or Life apart from Him.
He mentions Resurrection before Life because man is spiritually dead.
Before we could become alive to God, Jesus had to take our sin and death upon Himself and abolish it, by means of His death. Because He arose in the power of His eternal Life, He has become Life to the redeemed. They are in a totally new state, the old life and all that belonged to it are gone forever. [adapted from GWms]
  • Resurrection: "though he were dead, yet shall he live."- cp. 3:16; 5:24; 10:28; Eph 2:1-10
    The natural state of all men is "dead in our trespasses and sins."
    Being dead, none of us can do anything to change our natural situation.
       But Christ can. Only He can save us from our sin, and 'quicken' us {make us alive} with a new nature, to serve God. Through faith in Christ, sinners are raised out of spiritual death into new life with Him. This is the life which those who are 'born again' receive from God. Joh 1:11-13; 3:6,7
  • Life: "whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die."-
    In Christ, the believer has eternal life. cp. 1:4; 6:57; 14:19; Gal 2:20; 1Joh 5:10-12
Believest thou this?-
  • the Resurrection and the Life belong only to him that "believeth in me" {v.25,26}.
  • the Resurrection and the Life have both future (v.24) and present application (v.23, 43).
    Do we, like Martha, find it easier to believe that Christ will raise our bodies, at a distant future time... than to count on the power of His life within us, to rise above our old dead ways, today? (Rom 8:10-16).
11:27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord:
I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God,
which should come into the world.
{cp. Joh 4:25,26; 6:68,69; Psa 2:7}
I believe...- Martha's belief about Him was right. Her belief in Him was lacking.
11:28 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.
11:29 As soon as she heard [that], she arose quickly, and came unto him.
11:30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town,
but was in that place where Martha met him.
11:31 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.
Martha called Mary secretly...- Grief desires time alone with the Lord.
But their grief was for the glory of God (v.4). There would be a crowd at the grave.
11:32 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.
11:33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping,
and the Jews also weeping which came with her,
he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
11:34 And said, Where have ye laid him?
They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
11:35 Jesus wept.
Mary...fell at His feet.- Once she had sat at His feet, seeking to know Him (Luk 10:39).
Now, knowing Him, she sought Him in her need (cp. Psa 27:8; Mark 5:22; 7:25).
if thou hadst been here...- Her grief spills out, in the same words that Martha used (v.21).
when Jesus saw her weeping... the Jews also weeping...-
'weeping' {GK= klaio} is loud wailing, audible lament.
Her sorrow, beyond words, is known by the Lord. cp. Psa 22:24; 77:1-3; Heb 4:15
He groaned...- GK= embrimaomai, this word expresses strong emotion.
It is translated as ''strictly charged'' (Mark 1:43) and ''murmurred against'' (Mark 14:5).
Here it means: 'He was deeply moved' [WEVine], or, 'He was moved with indignation' [Wuest],
ie., against Satan and the effects of sin upon mankind. cp. Rom 5:12
He was troubled.- ie., was agitated within Himself.
"Perhaps this rock tomb brought His approaching death and entombment visibly before His eyes." [GWms] cp. this word in Joh 12:27; 13:21; 14:1,27
Jesus wept.- GK= dakruo, silent tears of sorrow (contrast the 'wailing' of v.33).
11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
11:37 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?
11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave.
It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
again groaning in Himself...- (groaning with indignation, as in v.33)
Here, the unbelief and misunderstanding of the crowd was repugnant to Him.
He wept, not because He was powerless to prevent Lazarus' death,
but because He shared the sorrow of those who grieved for him.
11:39 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.
11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that,
if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
{cp. v.4}
11:41 Then they took away the stone [from the place] where the dead was laid.
by this time he stinketh.- This sounds crude. But death is crude.
"The reality remains regardless of how the undertaker may try to soften it." [McGee]
The stench is evidence of corruption.
Martha mentions it as an obstacle against opening the tomb. But the true obstacle is unbelief.
if thou wouldst believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God.-
Note the unusual order of this statement: Believing precedes seeing God's glory.
This is the reversal of the common expression: 'Seeing is believing.'
Many would see Lazarus come out of the grave. But few would believe to see God's glory.
said I not unto you... thou shouldst see the glory of God?-
What is 'the glory of God'?
  • It is the visible manifestation of God's holiness (ie., that He is unique and separate from all other beings, in every aspect of His person, purposes, power, etc.). See note at Isa 6:1-3.
  • The visible manifestation of God's holiness (God the Son) was about to be revealed, in demonstration of the words Jesus had spoken to Martha (v.25,26).
then they took away the stone.- No doubt, Martha did not comprehend His plan,
but the obedience of faith gave the Lord freedom to act. cf. Mat 13:58
And Jesus lifted up [his] eyes, and said,
Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
11:42 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.
thou hast heard me... thou hearest me always.-
He knew the Father's mind before He set out for Bethany (v.6).
Jesus did not need to petition God for this miracle (as Martha had suggested, v.22), because from eternity past, He and the Father had continually been of one mind.
Lazarus would be raised by the One who raised Jesus. cp. Joh 2:19; Acts 3:15; Joh 5:19-21; 10:17,18
Resurrection is the work of the Godhead: the Father, the Son, (and the Spirit, 1Pet 3:18).
because of the people... that they may believe that thou hast sent me.- cp. Joh 20:30,31
The whole incident was to show people the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ.
11:43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice,
Lazarus, come forth.
11:44 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.
he that was dead came forth...- Jesus spoke and the dead responded (5:28,29).
If He had not called Lazarus by name, would the cemetary have been emptied?
bound... with graveclothes...- Lazarus was raised up in his natural human body.
Jesus, at His resurrection, passed through the graveclothes and through the still sealed tomb. Jesus was raised in His glorified body.
loose him and let him go.- There is a parallel to the Christian life here:
We, who were dead in sins, have been made alive in Christ. But we still get tangled up in the things which pertain to our old dead fleshly nature. The Lord, who raised us out of spiritual deadness, wants us to live free from the entanglements of the sin nature. Rom 7:18-25; 8:2; Gal 5:1; Col 3:1-8
11:45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary,
and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
11:46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees,
and told them what things Jesus had done.
the things which Jesus did- revealed His glory. Joh 10:37,38
Of those who observed the miracle, quite a few believed.
     But the unbelievers among them reported what they had seen to the Pharisees. Were they waiting for the religious authorities to tell them what to believe? They saw what Jesus did, but they had not believed to see the glory of God in Him. They had rejected the highest Authority.
     Today also, men remain divided about Jesus. cp. Luk 16:31
11:47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, {cp. Psa 2:2,3}
and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
11:48 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.
a council- GK= sunedrion, the Sanhedrin, consisting of 70 rulers plus the high priest. cp. Num 11:16
This is an 'ecumenical' gathering: The chief priests, who were mostly Sadducees (the political left, the religious liberals who denied the supernatural, miracles, and resurrection), joined with the Pharisees (the political right, the religious conservatives). Their common ground was opposition to Jesus.
They were moved by fear: If Jesus' following continued to grow,
the Romans might interpret His popularity as a threat to their power, and intervene by...
  1. removing the Jewish rulers from their positions of political power.
  2. removing the people of Israel from their land.
    The rulers' actions against Jesus would actually bring about that which they feared. cp. Dan 9:26; Luk 19:41-44
11:49 And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year,
said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
11:50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us,
that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
11:51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year,
he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
11:52 And not for that nation only, but that also
he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
ye know nothing...- Caiaphas was wise in his own conceit. Prov 26:12
He could not recognize God's wisdom, even when his own lips spoke words from God.
cp. 1Cor 2:7,8; 3:18,19
it is expedient... that one man should die...-
  • As Caiaphas saw the situation, and as he intended his words:
    The plot to kill Jesus was in the political best interest of the nation.
  • But the prophetic words, which God had placed on Caiaphas' tongue,
    had a far deeper and more far reaching meaning. God's message was...
that Jesus should die... not for that nation only,
but that also He should gather together in one the children of God.-
cp. Isa 49:6,7; Joh 1:29; Eph 2:13-18
11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
The national leaders have made their official decision.
Their continued consultations explore the means to implement it. cp. Mark 14:1,2
11:54 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.
Ephraim is located about 15 miles north of Jerusalem.
11:55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand:
and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
11:56 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?
{cp. Joh 7:11-14}
11:57 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.

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