COMMENTARY ON JOHN 11

The Book of John is unique among the Gospel accounts. You may read it when you are yet in shallow waters near the shore, and you will find Jesus there. You may read it and find yourself totally immersed in deep truths about God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I will go deep, and if it is too much, don’t worry! Stay in the shallow waters for a bit. He will take you deeper, as you get to know Him!

John 11 describes a never-before seen miracle — a dead man raised, four days after he died. You will see how Jesus Christ responds to people’s unbelief, and you will understand that nothing is impossible, with Him. Hallelujah!

Verses 1-2 — Jesus was summoned by Mary and Martha. Their brother, Lazarus (his name means “one who God helps), is sick. Mary was a worshiper of Jesus Christ, the one who anointed Him with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair. Martha also believed in Jesus Christ.

IMPORTANT POINT: When sickness comes, call out for Jesus Christ.

Verses 3-4 — The sisters sent to Him; Lazarus, whom He loves, is sick. But Jesus did not answer by coming to them. He said this sickness would not end in death, but was for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified for it. Something was going to happen that glorified both God the Father and God the Son.

IMPORTANT POINT: It may seem that death is imminent, that the situation is impossible. But Jesus Christ glorifies Himself and the Father when He does the impossible with someone who is beyond resurrection, incurable, doomed to die. The Lord healed me of MS, an incurable disease that often leads to early death from pneumonia, because you can no longer swallow and food goes into your lungs (aspiration pneumonia). Why does He wait until it looks hopeless? So the miracle He does is so great that you and many others will glorify His Father and Him!

Verses 5-6 — You’d think that if Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus, he would immediately go to them. But when he heard Lazarus was sick, he waited two more days before going to see them.

IMPORTANT POINT:  It may seem like Jesus’ answer is delayed. But He is faithful. Wait for Him, not passively, but continually seeking Him. You will be amazed at what He does!

Verses 7-9 — When two more days had passed, Jesus announced that it was time. The disciples knew they would be re-entering enemy territory, because the Jewish elite sought to kill Jesus. But He was undeterred.

He spoke of daylight — twelve hours wasn’t exact, but that is how people spoke of  the hours of daylight in those times. Men can walk during the daylight and not stumble. They have this world’s light. And that is the only light you have, until you have Jesus Christ’s light in you.

But if you don’t have His light in you (for He is the Light of the World, and His light shines out from Him), it is as if you are walking around in darkness — spiritual darkness. You will stumble. You will reject Him, just as the Jewish elite did. Your stumbling reveals that you do not have His light in you.

IMPORTANT POINT: It is still possible for those in darkness to come into the Light of Christ, and to have His light come into them. I did, after rejecting Him for many years. And many of the Jewish elite finally saw His Light and were convinced that Jesus was the Christ, after He died and rose again.

Verses 10-16 — Once again, the disciples missed what Jesus meant by what He spoke. That would change when Pentecost came. Then they would understand His words.

Jesus told them Lazarus had “fallen asleep,” but that He was now going to awaken him. The disciples thought He meant natural sleep; therefore, Lazarus would recover (be saved and delivered) from his sickness.

But Jesus had spoken of Lazarus’ death. And so He bluntly told them that Lazarus was dead. He was glad, for the sake of the disciples, that He was not there when Lazarus died, so they may believe. Had He been there at the time Lazarus died, the miracle would not be so spectacular. But by waiting to go to Lazarus, God the Father and God the Son would be glorified as never before, and the disciples would believe.

So Thomas spoke, saying they should go with Jesus and die with Him at the hands of the Jewish elite. Little did they know!

IMPORTANT POINT: You will understand Jesus’ words when you are filled with His Spirit in your own personal Pentecost.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus will wait until it seems absolutely impossible, and then He will spectacularly act. His goal is always the Father’s glory, and He Himself is glorified through what the Father does.

Verse 17 — Why was it important to note that Lazarus had been dead and lying in a tomb for four days? The Jews believed that until three days had passed, a man’s spirit was still in his dead body. But after that, there was no hope at all of bringing him back to life.

IMPORTANT POINT:  Does it look like there’s no hope? Don’t underestimate Jesus!

Verses 18-19 — John paints a picture. Bethany is just two miles from Jerusalem. Therefore, many of the Jewish elite in Jerusalem came to console Mary and Martha in the death of their brother. The place was filled with the unbelief of the Jewish elite, which they had shown in all their interactions with Jesus.

IMPORTANT POINT: You will see that an atmosphere of unbelief will not stop Jesus from performing miracles so that God the Father and God the Son are glorified. Nothing will stop Him.

Verses 20-22 — When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed at their home. Martha rebuked the Lord, saying if He had been there sooner, Lazarus would not have died. In her eyes, Lazarus was beyond hope. But she also knew that whatever Jesus asked God to do, God would do. She had faith that God could work, but the circumstances looked impossible.

IMPORTANT POINT: Jesus is never late. Do not accuse Him!

Verses 23-24 — Jesus plainly said Lazarus would rise again. Martha thought Jesus meant he would rise again when all things come to a close, in the last resurrection, when believers’ bodies are raised from the dead.

IMPORTANT POINT: Just as Martha’s faith wasn’t complete, so it is with all believers. Thanks be to God, He increases your faith when you ask Him to do it.

Verses 25-27 — Jesus spoke another I AM statement — I AM the resurrection and the life. He is the I AM, the always existing God the Son. Nothing is too difficult for Him. He is the resurrection. He is the One who resurrects. He is the Life. He is the One who gives eternal life, life as God has it.

But Martha says she knows He is the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world. She knows He is from God. She knows He is God. She expresses her faith. But she still sees the situation as hopeless, even though Jesus said Lazarus’ illness would not end in death. Her brother had died. How could he be raised?

IMPORTANT POINT: You may believe up to a certain point. But Martha, like many of us, saw the hopelessness of a situation, rather than looking to the promises of God. He is true to His Word, and the Truth. He never lies, but always speaks the truth.

Verses 28-31 — Martha went home and told Mary that Jesus was asking for her, even though He had not done so. She may have thought that Mary would somehow cause Jesus to do something to help them. What, she did not know.

Verses 32— So Mary came, along with many of the Jewish elite. She was the only one who fell at Jesus’ feet and worshiped Him. But then she repeated what Martha had said. If only You had been here, Jesus, Lazarus would not have died. The situation was just as hopeless in her eyes as it was in Martha’s. She was looking at the situation and not Jesus Christ’s promise.

IMPORTANT POINT: Look at Jesus! Look at His faithfulness! Remember His promises. Don’t look at the hopelessness of your situation.

Verse 33 — Many people misinterpret this verse. You may be shocked to know what it really means.

Jesus saw Mary and Martha weeping, and the Jewish elite weeping. And He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled. Many say He was emotionally moved, saddened, grieving with them. But “deeply moved” means “snorting with anger, moved with anger!” And “troubled” means “disturbed.” He was deeply angered at their unbelief, to the point where He snorted! Snorting is an explosive sound by a sudden rush of air emitted from the nose, and indicates indignation, derision, and disgust. He was disgusted with their weeping! Look ahead to Verse 40 and you will see why. They did not believe His words.

Verses 34-35 — Jesus abruptly asked where Lazarus had been laid. They told Him to come and see. Then Jesus wept. Was He sad over the loss of Lazarus? No! He wept over their unbelief. Why would He weep over the death of Lazarus, when He had come to wake him up?

IMPORTANT POINT: Lord, convict us strongly so that we stop humanizing God the Son, trying to overlay our human responses upon Him and thus making Him into our own image! He was and is not weepy and weak and confused! As He walked the earth, He was God the Son, not merely human. He knows all, and knew exactly what was about to happen in John 11.

Verse 36 — As usual, the Jewish elite completely misinterpret his weeping, just as many in today’s church have done. Of course Jesus loved Lazarus. But He was not weeping for the loss of Lazarus. He was about to resurrect him! He wept because no one believed that a miracle was about to happen. No one believed His promise.

Verse 37 — The Jewish elite then accused Jesus. He could have healed Lazarus. But now it is too late. Lazarus is dead. Why didn’t Jesus come sooner? Unbelief spouted from their mouths.

Verse 38-39 — And again, Jesus snorted with anger, disgusted and indignant because He was surrounded by unbelief.

He then commanded, “Remove the stone.” But Martha objected. It was another expression of unbelief. The stench from Lazarus’ rotting body would be terrible, since he had been dead four days. Didn’t Jesus say that this would not end in death?

IMPORTANT POINT: Many around you may spout unbelief. Don’t listen to them. Look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:2)!

Verse 40 — What didn’t Martha, Mary and the rest believe? His words. He rebuked them because they did not believe Him when He said, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God.” That statement meant that He was coming to do a miracle. But they thought it was too late and that He had failed.

IMPORTANT POINT:  It is never “too late” for Jesus to work a miracle. You must believe Him when He says He will work it, and that God will be glorified by what He does.

Verse 41-44 — So they removed the stone. Jesus then raised His eyes to heaven, and prayed aloud to the Father, so they would know that the Father hears Him and has sent Him.

Then He commanded, in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And Lazarus came out of the tomb, still bound in his grave clothes. Hallelujah! Nothing like that had ever been done in history! It was a God-glorifying miracle!

Jesus commanded them to loose him and let him go. And they did.

IMPORTANT POINT: Just as hopeless, dead Lazarus was raised from the dead, hopeless Sue was raised from spiritual death. And Jesus will do the same for you, and for His church that no longer believes His words. And just as resurrected Lazarus was loosed from his deadness, so was I, and Jesus will do the same for you, and for His church that no longer believes His words.

Verse 45-46 — What was the response of those who saw it? Many of the Jewish elite believed. But some reported what had happened to the Pharisees.

Verse 47-48 — So the chief priests and Pharisees, hearing this report, met. “What are we doing? What can we do? Jesus is performing signs that attest that He is who He says He is! If we don’t do something to stop Him, all men will believe in Him.” And now they revealed their motive for rejecting Jesus. The Romans would remove the chief priests and Pharisees from their place of honor, and as a result, the Jewish nation would crumble.

Verse 49-52 — But Caiaphus, whose turn it was to be high priest that year, suddenly began to prophesy. He told them they knew nothing. He said they did not consider that it was better for one man to die for the people, rather than to have all of the people perish. He didn’t say it of his own initiative. God prophesied through Caiaphas because he was high priest. Jesus would die not only for the nation, but that all men be made children of God and gathered from all across the earth, and not perish.

IMPORTANT POINT #1 — God will prophesy through those who hold offices in His church, even though they are working against Him. He will later remind them of it, so they might turn back to Him.

IMPORTANT POINT #2 — Indeed, Jesus Christ died for you. If you believe in Him, you will be made a child of God, and not perish. If you do not receive the salvation that God the Father offers you through His Son, you will perish.

Verses 53-54 — The Jewish elite then planned to kill Jesus. And Jesus knew it, even though they did not tell Him. He knows everything. So Jesus did not walk with the Jewish elite anymore. He and the disciples went to Ephraim.

Verses 55-57 — Passover was near. Jews came from all across the known earth because this was a feast they were required to attend. They went up early, so they would have time to be ceremonially purified.

So they began to ask where Jesus was. He had to attend, as a Jew. He had to be purified in advance. Where was He? Was He planning to disregard God’s requirement to attend?

And the foolish Jewish elite gave orders that if anyone knew where Jesus was, they were to report it so they could seize Him.

IMPORTANT POINT: Many plan to kill Jesus. They discredit Him. They reject Him. They accuse Him. They seize Him. They do all these things to His followers, so they do them to Him.

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Author: Susan Wynn, servant of Jesus Christ

Healed by Jesus Christ of MS in 2001, in the middle of the night! Proclaiming His gospel, His healing, His heart. Author of From Death To Life--A True Story of Healing, Hope and Being Set Free. Our ministry: My Father's Place, a ministry without walls, proclaiming Jesus Christ to the world.

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