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Bible Commentaries
John 11

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


A man named Lazarus. The other Gospels mention Mary and Martha, but not their brother Lazarus. Bethany was on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives, about two miles east of Jerusalem.

Verse 2


(This Mary.) John clearly identifies which Mary he means. Remember he writes as a historian. He tells about the anointing in John 12:1-8. [Five Marys stand out in the New Testament: those from Nazareth, Magdala, Bethany; the mother of John Mark, and the wife of Clopas.]

Verse 3


The sisters sent Jesus a message. Jesus is across the Jordan. They expect Jesus’ love for his dear friend will bring him to their home. They believe Jesus can heal their brother.

Verse 4


Will not be the death. As we look backward from our point in time, we see he spoke about God being glorified through the raising of this man from death.

Verses 5-6


Jesus loved. AGAPE = divine love. In John 11:3; John 11:36 it is PHILOS = friendship, brotherly love. For two more days. Both to finish what he was doing there, and to allow enough time for things to be ready for the miracle he will do. Love is mentioned to show he was not indifferent to his friend’s sickness and death. And this is not to bring selfish fame to Jesus, but to honor God and to show Jesus as the Messiah (John 11:4).

Verse 8


And you plan to go back there? They think only of the danger to Jesus.

Verses 9-10


A day has twelve hours. He is walking in the light of day, because he knows what he is doing. See notes on John 7:6; John 9:4.

Verses 11-16


Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. Jesus called death “sleep” more than once, because it is only temporary. Compare Matthew 9:24 and note. So that we may die with him. The Jewish authorities were so hostile that they expect this to end in death.

Verse 19


And many Jews had come. Since John uses “Jews” to mean Jewish authorities, it shows us that the family of Lazarus ranked high. These came to sit and talk with the family. [Death was “mourned” as long as thirty days time. See note on Matthew 9:23.]

Verse 21


If you had been here, Lord. She believed Jesus could have prevented the death of her brother, but even she does not expect Jesus to raise him from death.

Verse 23


Your brother will rise to life. But she thinks Jesus speaks about the final Resurrection.

Verse 25


I am the resurrection and the life. If Christ were only a “good man,” he could not have said this! He declares he has power over death and the grave! He demonstrates this in the miracle, but especially in his own raising from death. Compare Matthew 27:52-53 and notes.

Verse 26


And whoever lives and believes. Death will be a graduation to a better world (2 Peter 3:13).

Verse 27


I do believe. This declaration of her faith is the only CREED of the Kingdom/church which Jesus built. Compare Matthew 16:16 and note there.

Verses 28-30


And called her sister Mary privately. So that she could speak with Jesus as her sister had done.

Verse 31


That she was going to the grave. That would be the custom. Note the Jews follow her.

Verses 33-34


His heart was touched and he was deeply moved. His sympathy with the weeping sister and the wailing crowd causes this deep emotion. [The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “To refer His strong feeling to His indignation at the “hypocritical” lamentations of the crowd is a groundless and unjust fancy contradicted by His own “weeping” (John 11:35) and by the remark of the Jews (John 11:36).”]

Verse 35


Jesus wept. This is the shortest verse in the Bible. Here, as a friend, his quiet tears are shed with the two sisters. See Hebrews 4:15

Verses 36-37


See how much he loved html Some of the Jews see evidence of his love in the tears. Others, as they remember his mighty works, ask why he did not save Lazarus from death.

Verse 38


Jesus went to the tomb. [Tomb: compare note on Matthew 27:60]

Verses 39-40


Take the stone away! It would take more than one person to move the heavy stone. Martha’s words show how little she expected a resurrection.

Verses 41-42


Jesus looked up and said. He looked up at the sky. His purpose was always to honor God and to show that the Father had sent him (compare John 11:4). I thank you, Father. No incantation, no frenzied prayer! Just a few quiet words of thanks, as if Lazarus were already raised to life. I know that you always listen to me. Even in Gethsemane, when the “cup” was not taken from him.

Verse 43


Lazarus, come out! Lazarus dead, had neither the ability to come nor to refuse to come. But at the shout of command, Lazarus is dead no morel

Verse 44


The dead man came out. This is the third time Jesus invades the world of the dead to rescue someone. This time no one could doubt that a dead man had been raised to life! It is part of the miracle that Lazarus came out tied up hand and foot, and John puts special emphasis on this fact.

Verses 45-46

45–46. Many of the Jews. They were convinced by this demonstration of divine power. But some returned to the Pharisees. This is a hostile action, since John separates them from those who believed.

Verse 47


Met with the Council. They do not deny the miracles which Jesus has done, but they think they must do something to stop him.

Verse 48


And the Roman authorities will take action. Perhaps they expect Jesus to use his popularity to proclaim himself King, and raise an army to fight against Rome. A generation later, the Jewish authorities themselves rebelled against Rome and just what they are afraid of, happened (see note on Matthew 24:21). But it happened because they rejected Christ!

Verse 49


One of them, named Caiaphas. John intends to call attention to this fact. Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 to 36. You do not know a thing! That is, you do not understand what this crisis makes necessary.

Verse 50


To have one man die for the people. He is saying it will be better to have one man die [to kill him], rather than have the Romans destroy the whole nation for making Jesus their King.

Verses 51-52


He did not say this of his own accord. God was speaking through him, even though he did not know it. [The Expositor’s Greek Testament says: “In the irony of events he unconsciously used his high-priestly office to lead forward that one sacrifice which was for ever to take away sin and so make all further priestly office superfluous.”]

Verse 53


From that day on. The official decree was that Jesus would die.

Verse 54


So Jesus did not travel openly. He would die at Passover time, just as the passover lamb was being killed. Ephraim. Sixteen miles northeast of Jerusalem, on the edge of the desert.

Verse 55


Passover was near. It was just a few weeks before Passover when he had gone to Ephraim. The ceremony of purification. See 2 Chronicles 30:17; John 18:28; Exodus 19:10-11, This may have included shaving the whole head and washing their clothes, plus other ritual which lasted as much as a week.

Verse 56


They were looking for Jesus. Jesus was in the thoughts of everyone just now!

Verse 57


The chief priests and the Pharisees. The Council [Sanhedrin]. The hostility that began three years before this, had come to its climax!

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 11". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/john-11.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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