Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Lazarus of Bethany was a dear friend of Jesus (John 11:3, 36). His name means God has helped, and God helped him indeed (John 11:43-44). After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, many people became believers. This angered the chief priests and they plotted to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (John 12:9-11).
So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”
Love. The original word is the verb phileo which means fondness or affection. Jesus was fond of Lazarus and considered him a close friend (John 11:36).
But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”
The Son of God. Most of the time Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man (see entry for Matt. 8:20). But on a few occasions he acknowledged that he was the Son of God (John 3:18, 5:25, 10:36, Rev. 2:18).
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Jesus loved. The original verb for loved (agapao) is different from the one used in John 11:3 (phileo). Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus and considered them dear friends.
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
The Light of Life. Adam’s fallen race lives in the valley of the shadow of death. Into this dark valley comes Jesus with the bright and shining revelation that God offers us a new life.
This He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.”
(a) Our friend Lazarus. Lazarus of Bethany was a dear friend of Jesus (John 11:3, 36).
(b) Has fallen asleep. Lazarus had died (John 11:14).
Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.”
Didymus means “the Twin.” Thomas had a sibling about whom we know nothing.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
The life. Two kinds of life are described in the Bible; the psuche– or soul life we inherited from Adam and the zoe– or spirit life that comes from God (John 5:26). It’s the second kind of life that is described here. See entry for New Life.
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
(a) You are the Christ or the Messiah foretold by the prophets.
(b) The Son of God. Martha was among a select group of people who recognized that Jesus is the Son of God. Others who had this revelation include John the Baptist (John 1:34), Nathanael (John 1:49), the centurion at the cross (Matt. 27:54, Mark 15:39)
The angel Gabriel (Luke 1:35) and various demons also recognized that Jesus was the Son of God (Matt. 8:29, Mark 3:11, Luke 4:41). Jesus is the Christ (the anointed one), and the Lord (supreme above all), but ultimately Jesus is the Son of God. See entry for John 20:31.
So the Jews were saying, “See how He loved him!”
He loved him. The original word (phileo) is a verb which means fondness or affection. It was obvious to the people of Bethany that Jesus loved Lazarus as a dear friend.
Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs.
(a) A council. In Matthew’s account it is the chief priests and the elders who plot to kill Jesus (Matt. 26:3). This plot involved the whole ruling council or Sanhedrin (see entry for Matt. 26:59), with only a few dissenters (Luke 23:50-51).
(b) Many signs. Jesus had performed miracles since the beginning of his ministry, but it was the raising of Lazarus that encouraged many to believe in him (John 11:45).
So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
Kill him. On several occasions people plotted or tried to murder Jesus (Matt. 26:59, Mark 14:55, Luke 4:30, 22:2, John 5:18, 7:19, 25). But none succeeded. Jesus would freely lay down his life for all. No one would take it from him (John 10:18).
Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.
Went away from there. Jesus had been in Bethany near Jerusalem (John 11:18). He did not leave because his enemies were plotting to kill him (see previous verse), but because the time for his crucifixion had not yet come. For maximum impact, Jesus had to die at Passover when the city was full of pilgrims.
Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves.
The Passover feast was celebrated on the evening preceding the weeklong festival of unleavened bread (Lev. 23:5-6). The feast involved the sacrifice of a lamb.
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- John 11:1
- John 11:3
- John 11:4
- John 11:5
- John 11:9
- John 11:11
- John 11:16
- John 11:25
- John 11:27
- John 11:36
- John 11:47
- John 11:53
- John 11:54
- John 11:55