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
Bethany. See Luke
11:2 And it was
that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment1, and wiped
his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus2
And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment. See
shows. For a similar anticipation, see Matthew
10:4. There are five prominent Marys in the New Testament: those of
Nazareth, Magdala, and Bethany (Matthew
10:39); the mother of Mark (Acts
12:12), and the wife of Cleopas (John
Lazarus. On this name, see Luke
11:3 The sisters therefore sent unto him,
saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick1.
Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. The message and its form
both indicate the close intimacy between this family and Christ. They make
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.
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, so that
death was a mere preceding incident.
That the Son of God may be glorified thereby. By this resurrection
the Son of God would be glorified by manifesting more clearly than ever
before that death came under his Messianic dominion, and by gathering
believers from amongst his enemies. In all this the Father would also be
glorified in the Son.
11:5 Now Jesus
loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus1.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. In this
passage we have two Greek words for love. In John
11:3,36 we have the Greek word "philein", which expresses
natural affection such as a parent feels for a child. In this verse we have
"agapan", an affection resulting from moral choice, loftier and
less impulsive. We are told of the Lord's love that we may understand that
his delay was not due to indifference.
therefore he heard that he was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place
where he was1.
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 his
ministry delayed Jesus in Perea. But the import of the texts is that he kept
away because of his love for the household of Lazarus and his desire to
bless his disciples. He delayed that he might discipline and perfect the
faith of the sisters and disciples. He withheld his blessing that he might
enlarge it. Strauss pronounces it immoral in Christ to let his friend die in
order to glorify himself by a miracle. In the vocabulary of Strauss,
"glorification" means the gratification of personal vanity, but in
the language of Christ it means the revelation of himself as the divine
Savior, that men may believe and receive the blessing of salvation.
11:7 Then after this he saith to the
disciples, Let us go into Judaea again1.
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 so
doing he caused them to think of his death, of which he had some time been
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
The Jews were but now seeking to stone thee. See John
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.
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 parabolic
expression resembles that at John
9:4. In this passage, day represents the alloted season of life which
was to be terminated by what Jesus called "his hour" (John
13:1). Until this "hour" came, Jesus felt no fear. He did not
thrust himself into danger, thus tempting God; but he feared not to go
whither his duty and the spirit led him. As yet it was still day, but the
evening shadows were falling, and the powers of darkness were soon to
22:53), and then the further prosecution of the work would lead to
death, for death was 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.
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 figure of
11:12 The disciples therefore said unto
him, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover.
Lord, if he sleepeth, he shall do well. The disciples might have
understood him to mean death in this case had they not misunderstood his
promise given at (John
11:4). As it was, they looked upon the mentioned sleep as marking the
crisis of disease, as it so often does in cases of fever. They were glad to
urge it as an evidence of complete recovery, and thus 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
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 constrained to
heal him, and so would have lost the opportunity of presenting to his
disciples a more striking proof of his divine power, a proof which has been
the joy of each succeeding age.
To the intent ye may believe. The disciples were soon to learn by
sad experience how little belief they really had (Mark
11:16 Thomas therefore, who is called
Didymus, said unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also
go, that we may die with him2.
Thomas . . . who is called Didymus. See Mark
Let us also go, that we may die with him. That is, die with Christ.
11:8. They could not die with Lazarus, as some have foolishly supposed,
for he was already dead. This mention of Thomas is closely connected with
the thought in John
11:15. Jesus was about to work a miracle for the express purpose of
inducing his disciples to believe in him, especially as to his power over
death. In this despairing speech Thomas shows how little faith he had in
Christ's ability to cope with death. Thomas sadly needed to witness the
miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus, and even after seeing it, it proved
insufficient to sustain his faith in the ordeal through which he was about
to pass (John
11:17 So when
Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already1.
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 custom in
the East, and in hot climates generally (Acts
5:6,10), he probably died on the day that the messengers brought word to
Jesus about his sickness. If so, Jesus set forth for Bethany on the third
day and arrived there on the fourth. The resurrections wrought by Jesus are
progressional manifestations of power. Jairus' daughter was raised
immediately after death (Mark
8:54), the young man of Nain was being carried to his grave (Luke
7:12), and Lazarus was buried four days. All these were preparatory to
that last and greatest manifestation of resurrectional power--the raising of
his own body.
11:18 Now Bethany was nigh unto
Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off1;
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
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them
concerning their brother. These Jews were present four days after the
death because Jewish custom prolonged the season of mourning. (Genesis
34:8; 1 Samuel
28:13). The Mishna prescribed seven days for near relatives, and the
rules as laid down by rabbis, required seven days' public and thirty days'
private mourning for distinguished or important personages.
therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him1:
but Mary still sat in the house.
Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met
him. Jesus evidently paused on the outskirts of the town. He probably
wished to avoid the noisy conventional wailing, the hypocrisy of which was
distasteful to him (Mark
5:40). It comports with the businesslike character of Martha as depicted
by Luke to have heard of our Lord's arrival before Mary. She was probably
discharging her duty towards the guests and new arrivals, as was her wont.
See notes on Luke
11:21 Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord,
if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died1.
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 than her
words would indicate. Such vague and illusive hopes are common where a great
expectation, such as she had before indulged, had but lately departed.
11:23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy
brother shall rise again1.
Thy brother shall rise again. Instead of saying, "I will raise
Lazarus", Jesus uses the wholly impersonal phrase "thy brother
shall rise again", for it was this very impersonal feature of faith
which he wished to correct.
11:24 Martha saith unto him, I
know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day1.
I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Martha assents at once. The doctrine of a resurrection was commonly held by
all the Jews except the Sadducees. It was in their view, however, a remote,
impersonal affair, a very far distant event powerless to comfort in
bereavement. From this comparatively cheerless hope, Jesus would draw Martha
to look upon "himself" as both resurrection 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;
I am the resurrection, and the life. Where Jesus is there is life,
and there also is resurrection at his word without limitation. No mere man,
if sane, could have uttered such words. They mean that Jesus is the power
which raises the dead and bestows eternal life (John
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.
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 Jesus and yet
he had died. So, evading the question (John
11:26), she confessed her faith in him. Believing him, she accepted
whatever he might say. She responds in the words of that apostolic creed
which, in its ultimate application, embraces all that is true and discards
all that is false (Matthew
20:31; 1 John
5:1-5). See Mark
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.
She went away, and called Mary her sister secretly. She called Mary
secretly, for she wished that Mary might have a private word with Jesus such
as she had just had.
11:29 And she,
when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him1.
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.
The Jews then . . . followed her. According to Eastern custom, the
Jews followed her as friends, to assist in the demonstration of mourning.
This frustrated the effort of Martha to keep secret the Lord's coming, and
caused the miracle to be wrought in the presence of a mixed body of
Supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there. Rather,
to wait (Matthew
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.
Mary . . . fell down at his feet. In grief and dependence, but with
less self-control than Martha.
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 of the past feelings and conversation
of the sisters. It is clean that they 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,
He groaned in the spirit. The verb translated "groaned"
carries in it the idea of indignation. But the fact that sin had brought
such misery 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.
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
11:35 Jesus wept1.
Jesus wept. This is not the Greek verb for wailing ("klaio"),
but for shedding tears ("dakruo"). On another occasion, when Jesus
saw with prophetic eye a vast city, the center of God's chosen nation,
sweeping on to destruction, he lamented aloud (Luke
19:41), but here, as a friend, he mingled his quiet tears with the two
broken-hearted sisters, thus assuring us of his sympathy with the individual
grief of each lowly disciple (Romans
12:15). Nor did the nearness of comfort prevent his 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?
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 he
had performed upon a blind man (John
9:1-13), they could therefore see no 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.
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, so that
they could be rolled in front of the door of the tomb. Tombs had to be
closed securely to keep out jackals and other ravenous beasts.
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.
Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone. Miracles only begin where
human power ends.
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. Martha
evidently thought that Jesus wished to see the remains of his friend, and
her sisterly feeling prompted her to conceal the humiliating ravages of
death. Her words show how little expectation of a resurrection she had.
11:40 Jesus saith unto her, Said
I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God1?
Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the
glory of God? Jesus reminds her of his words which are recorded in John
11:25,26 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.
Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. Jesus, dwelling in
constant communion with the Father, knew that the Father concurred in his
wish to raise Lazarus. He therefore makes public acknowledgment, and offers
a prayer of thanksgiving, for the Father's gracious answer to this and all
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.
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 is not the
work of some independent wonder-worker, but is performed by him as one
commissioned and sent of God. In other words, the miracle was wrought to
prove the concord between the Son and the Father, the very fact which the
Jews refused to believe. Rationalists criticize this prayer as a violation
of the principle at Matthew
6:5,6), and Weisse called it "prayer for show". But it shows
on its face that it is not uttered by Jesus to draw admiration to himself as
a praying man, but to induce faith unto salvation in those who heard.
11:43 And when he had thus spoken, he
cried with a loud voice1, Lazarus,
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 an
earnest of the final calling which all shall hear (John
5:28,29 1 Thessalonians
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.
He that was dead came forth. It is thought by some that Lazarus
walked forth from the tomb, and the fact that the Egyptians sometimes
swathed their mummies so as to keep the limbs and even the fingers separate
is cited to show that Lazarus was not so bound as to prevent motion.
Bound hand and foot with grave-clothes. But the grave-clothes were
like a modern shroud, wrapped around arms and legs, and mummies also were
thus wrapped after their limbs were swathed. It was part of the miracle that
Lazarus came out bound hand and foot, and John puts emphasis upon it.
11:46 But some
of them1 went away to the
Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done2.
But some of them. Some of the class mentioned in John
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 his enemies,
but others, alarmed at this deflection, rush off to tell the Pharisees about
this new cause for alarm. Farrar argues that these may have gone to the
Pharisees with good intentions toward Jesus, but surely no friend of Jesus
could have been so hasty to communicate with his enemies. But the way in
which the Evangelist separates these from the believers of John
11:45, stamps their action as unquestionably hostile.
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
The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council.
Called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
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 communications with
Christians, it was easy for the disciples to find out what occurred on this
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.
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him. They found
that despite the threat of excommunication, Jesus was still winning
disciples under the very shadow of Jerusalem.
And the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.
The course of Jesus seemed to undermine Judaism, and to leave it a prey to
the innovations of Rome. It is uncertain what is meant by the word
"place". Meyer says it refers to Jerusalem; Luecke to the temple;
while Bengel says that place and nation are a proverbial expression, meaning
"our all"; but the Greek language furnishes no example of such
proverbial use. It is more likely that place refers to their seats in the
Sanhedrin, which they would be likely to lose if the influence of Jesus
became, as they feared, the dominant power. They feared then that the Romans
would, by removing them, take away the last vestige of civil and
ecclesiastical authority, and then eventually obliterate 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,
Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year. That notable, fatal
year; he was high priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36.
Said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, etc. His words are a
stinging rebuke, which may be paraphrased thus: "If you had any sense
you would not sit there asking, 'What do we?' when there is but one thing to
do; viz., Let Jesus die and save the people". Expediency, not justice,
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;
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 a meaning in his words different from his own. In
earlier, better days the high priest had represented the divine headship of
the nation, and through him, by means of the Urim and Thummin, the inspired
oracles and decisions had been wont to come. This exalted honor had been
lost through unworthiness. But now, according to the will of God, the high
priest 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
That he might also gather together into one the children of God that
are scattered abroad. See Galatians
11:53 So from
that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death1.
So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to
death. Thus, acting on the advice of Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin condemned
Jesus without a hearing and sought means to carry their condemnation to
execution. Quieting their consciences by professing to see such political
dangers as made it necessary to kill Jesus for the public welfare, they
departed utterly from justice, and took the course which brought them upon
the very evils which they were professedly seeking to avoid.
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.
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. Robinson and others and others identify it with the village
now called el Taiybeh, which is situated on a conical-shaped hill about
sixteen miles northeast of Jerusalem and five miles east of Bethel. It is on
the borders of a wilderness, and commands an extensive view of the Jordan
valley. 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
And many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover,
to purify themselves. These Jews went up before the Passover that they
might have time to purify themselves from ceremonial uncleanness before the
feast. They were expected to purify before any important event (Exodus
19:10,11), and did so before the Passover (2 Chronicles
30:13-20), for those who were ceremonially unclean were excluded from it
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?
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 question as to
whether he would dare to approach the city. But this mention of it, and the
stir and question which it created have a dark significance. It shows that
the Jews generally were forewarned of the evil purpose of the Sanhedrin, and
the dangers which surrounded Jesus. They were not taken unawares when their
rulers told them to raise the cry "Crucify him"! And they raised
it after they had due notice and time for deliberation.