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John Eleven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

John 11:2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

John 11:3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

John 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.

when Jesus heard that. This is the first of twenty-four occurrences of the name “Jesus” in the eleventh (and central) chapter of John's gospel. Although John especially wrote to show the deity of Christ (John 20:30-31), he used the human name “Jesus” more often than either Matthew, Mark or Luke, and more times here in this central chapter than in any of his twenty other chapters.

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

John 11:6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

John 11:7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

John 11:8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

John 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.

walk in the day. This was a proverbial expression which Jesus applied to His ministry. There was no danger as long as He was doing the Father's will, walking in the light. The time was coming, however, when He would have to walk in darkness, but even this was the Father's will.

John 11:10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

John 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.

sleepeth. “Sleep” is occasionally used to refer to death, though only the death of believers (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:13). At this point, Lazarus had already been dead for three days (compare John 11:39), since it would take about a day to walk from “beyond Jordan” (John 10:40), where Jesus was staying at the time, to Bethany. Jesus knew that He could not have reached Lazarus before he died, even if He had started as soon as the sisters' messenger reach him (John 11:3). His purpose in waiting was to demonstrate beyond question both His omniscience and omnipotence (John 11:4, 15).

John 11:12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

John 11:13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

John 11:14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

John 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.

John 11:16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Didymus. “Didymus” means “Twin” in Greek, which is also the meaning of “Thomas” in Aramaic. Thomas seems to have been of a somewhat cynical turn of mind (note John 14:5; 20:25) until after He had seen Jesus alive from the dead (John 20:28).

John 11:17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

John 11:18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

nigh unto Jerusalem. Bethany is about two miles from Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives and on the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho and the Jordan River. Its modern name is an Arabic term meaning “The Place of Lazarus.”

furlongs. See note on Luke 24:13.

John 11:19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

John 11:20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

John 11:21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

John 11:22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

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

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

John 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:

I am the resurrection. This great assertion is the fifth of the “I am” claims in John. “In Him is life” (John 1:4), for He is the “Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).

John 11:26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

whosoever lieveth. Those who “sleep in Jesus” shall be raised from the dead when He returns. Those who are still living when He returns will never die, but will be immediately changed and immortalized (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

John 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.

John 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.

John 11:29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

John 11:30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

John 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.

John 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.

John 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,

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

John 11:35 Jesus wept.

wept. This verse is widely recognized as the shortest verse in the English Bible, but it is also one of the most poignant. There is no mention in the Bible of Jesus ever laughing, but He was often observed weeping (e.g., Luke 19:41). In this case, He was sharing the grief of Mary and Martha, for He too loved Lazarus (John 11:5), but He also “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (John 11:33) at the very existence of death and the universal phenomenon of sin by which death reigned. His raising of Lazarus, however, would at least testify that He was able to give life and would one day put away sin and death forever.

John 11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

John 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?

John 11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

John 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.

Take ye away the stone. Jesus would perform no miracle on that which men could do for themselves. Hence His commands to remove the stone, and then later to “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). He had earlier rebuked those who wanted to see miracles just for some kind of spiritual display (John 4:48; etc.).

John 11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

John 11:41 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.

John 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.

John 11:43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

John 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.

came forth. This was the last and greatest of the seven miracles of Christ which John described in order to persuade people to “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31). “Many … believed on Him” as a result of this miracle (John 11:45), just as they had after His first miracle (John 2:11), and His second (John 4:53). There is little indication as to how many may have believed after the other four. After at least three of the miracles (John 5:18; 10:31; 11:53), however, those who heard of them became all the more determined to kill Him.

John 11:45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

John 11:46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

John 11:47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

John 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.

John 11:49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

John 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.

one man should die. Caiphas again expressed this unintended—but nevertheless fulfilled—prophecy at Jesus' trial (John 18:14).

John 11:51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

he prophesied. This is a remarkable divine irony. The high priest was Caiphas who, as the presumed representative of God to the people, should have gladly received Jesus as the promised Messiah. Instead he led in His trial and condemnation (Matthew 26:65-66). Nevertheless, he was divinely inspired unwittingly to acknowledge the real mission of Christ to the Jews and the whole world (see also John 18:14), that of substitutionary sacrifice for their sins. It is also noteworthy that, in 1992, the bones of this same Caiphas were discovered in his tomb underneath the modern city.

John 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.

not for that nation only. Caiphas actually prophesied that Jesus “should die for the people,” not just the Jews (also in John 18:14).

John 11:53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

John 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.

John 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.

John 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?

John 11:57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him.