The Gospel of John: Revealing the Invisible God
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
This book is a verse-by-verse commentary. To go to the commentary for any particular verse in Chapter 11, please click on a number below.
11:1 Now there was a certain [man] sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and Martha her sister.
Please remember that John was trying to explain, through Jesus' life, that when The God said, "let there be light," that those words were the birth of a spiritual entity. This spiritual being became known as Jehovah, or Yahweh, the one through whom The God spoke to Israel. The Israelites did not know about the invisible god; they worshiped Jehovah, the revelation of the invisible god, as though he were the only god, The God himself.
When Jehovah came to Abraham's camp as a man, and ate with him, that was a foreshadowing of the time when he would become flesh, as the man, Jesus. Jehovah came in the flesh, as Jesus, for the specific purpose of revealing the presence of the invisible god, and also to bring glory to him. Ironically, by accepting the doctrine of the trinity, people today make the same mistake the Israelites did: they still worship, in ignorance, the one who revealed The God, as if he were The God.
It is often difficult to understand the above precept since John did not follow a chronological sequence in the life of Jesus. John often skipped from one area of his life to another, without regard to when events actually occurred, and it is often difficult to determine the chronological order of events. Chapter 10 had apparently ended his ministry to the recalcitrant Jews, and Chapter 11 opens with a report of Jesus ministering to his close followers.
"Now there was a certain [man] sick." Sick comes from astheneoo, which also means to be weak. His disease was a debilitating one. John did not specifically identify the disease, but he said the man's name was Lazarus. The word for leper is lazar. Since names in scripture often carry a meaning of their own, this would indicate that Lazarus probably had leprosy.
Lepers were the outcasts of that time, and they were not permitted to have close communion with anyone. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-21 gives a vivid picture of the misery associated with this disease.
"Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and rich linen, making good cheer daily in splendor. And there was a certain poor man, by name Lazarus who was laid at his porch being full of sores, and desiring to be satisfied from the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man; but even the dogs coming licked his sores."
Whether or not this was a parable written about the real person, Lazarus, is subject to debate. Regardless, it definitely shows that lepers were consigned to a miserable condition.
Lazarus was from "Bethany, the village of Mary and Martha her sister." Smith (p. 37) says of Bethany:
"(house of dates). One of the most interesting places in Palestine. The residence of Lazarus, who was raised from the dead; the frequent resting-place of Jesus; the home of Mary and Martha, and of Simon the leper; and from whence the triumphal entry began; and near this place was the scene of the Ascension. It is now called El Azariyeh, the city of Lazarus. It is in a hollow, surrounded with olive, almonds, pomegranates, oaks, and carobs. The buildings are ruinous and wretched. The house of Lazarus is pointed out as a square tower, very ancient; and his tomb, a cave in the rock, descended by 26 steps."
11:2 And it was Mary who anointed the lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
Lazarus was sick. If this sickness was leprosy, then he was probably in the final stages of the disease, which sometimes resulted in death. Again, Smith (p. 181) says
"Leprosy. Gr. lepra. Supposed to be the peculiar scourge of an offended deity. The white variety was more common (if there is more than one) covering the entire body, or the most of it, and was called the leprosy of Moses. This was the ‘clean' kind. The symptoms were first a swelling, a scab or baldness, and a shiny spot. The hair changed to a white or yellowish-white over the swelling. Some times raw flesh (‘proud flesh') appeared in the sore. It often disappeared after going so far. If it went farther it became ‘unclean.' While the disease was active and spreading it was ‘unclean,' but when it had spread all over the body, and could go no farther, the person became ‘clean' again. The object of the disease seems to have been to create a nameless horror, and dread of contagion."
"It was Mary who anointed the lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair." Matthew 26:6-13 told of this event.
"Now Jesus being in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him, having an alabaster flask of ointment, very precious, and poured [it] on his head as he reclined [at table]. But seeing [it] his disciples became indignant, saying, For what this waste? This ointment could have been sold for much, and have been given to [the] poor. But knowing [this], Jesus said to them, Why trouble do ye cause to the woman? for a good work she wrought towards me. For always ye have the poor with you, but me ye have not always. For this [woman] in pouring this ointment on my body, she did it for my burying. Verily I say to you, Wheresoever these glad tidings shall be proclaimed in all the world, this [woman] shall be spoken of also of that which she did, for a memorial of her."
When Jesus said, "she did this for my burying," this indicated that the chronological time of this event was not too long before the crucifixion of Jesus.
"She wiped his feet with her hair." This was a sign of utter humility, indicating the lowliest of servants. Jesus said that his disciples should wash one another's feet as a sign of servitude. But, they used a cloth to dry the feet. Mary showed her devotion to Jesus by wiping his feet with her hair, which women considered to be their crowning glory.
11:3 The sisters therefore sent to him, saying, lord, lo, he whom thou lovest is sick.
Lovest comes from phileo, one of the two Greek words used in the New Testament for love. The other word translated love comes from agape. Thayer (p. 653) says this about the distinction between the two words.
"As to the distinction between agapan, and philein: the former, by virtue of its connection with agamai, properly denotes a love founded in admiration, veneration, esteem, like the Lat. diligere, to be kindly disposed to one, wish one well; but philein denotes an inclination prompted by sense and emotion. Christ bids us agapan, not philein, our enemies, because love as an emotion cannot be commanded, but only love as a choice."
Agape is an act of the will, while phileo is based upon emotion. Phileo is normally used to indicate close relationships, such as those with family members or close friends. Jesus must have been a close friend of Lazarus.
11:4 But Jesus, having heard, said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of The God, that the son of The God may be glorified by it.
"This sickness is not unto death." Death comes from thanatos, normally used to indicate physical death, although in context it may also speak of spiritual death. Here, it is speaking of physical death. Why was Lazarus allowed to experience physical death? "For the glory of The God."
Here, again, although Jesus used the term The God to indicate the invisible god of heaven, those who heard him did not clearly understand. The only god most of them knew about was Jehovah, the spiritual word of The God in Old Testament times.
Why would it be for the glory of The God? The answer is that it would allow Jesus to act in such a manner that "the son of The God may be glorified by it." This is one of the few instances where Jesus referred to himself as the son of The God. He usually spoke of himself as the son of the man, or the superlative example of man. The son of The God was the terminology used when one wished to refer to Jesus as the king of Israel, or messiah, or christ.
The death of Lazarus would also bring glory to Jesus. Whatever brought glory to the son, also brought glory to The God, his heavenly father. Whatever Jesus did in regard to the death of Lazarus, would be under the direct aegis of holy spirit, and thus under his father. This was the same reasoning given for the healing of the blind man.
11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
This is a simple statement which should require no comment. But, which word was used for love here? Jesus used agape here, instead of phileo, which he used earlier in speaking about his relationship to Lazarus. In other words, he wished the best for all three of them. This sounds a bit strange when considering the next verse.
11:6 Therefore when he heard he was sick, then indeed he remained two days in the place he was.
Therefore either points backward or forward to find the purpose in the sentence. The reason is not given further in the sentence, so we must look backward to find the purpose for why "he stayed two days in the place he was." The answer is found in verse 11:4, which stated that the death of Lazarus was for the glory of both the Father and the son. Jesus waited until Lazarus had died a physical death. Otherwise, he would not have been able to do what he did.
11:7 Then after this he says, Let us go again into Judaea.
"Then after this" refers to his remaining where he was for the two days. He waited two days, knowing it would take another two days of travel as they "went again into Judea." His followers had some misgivings about this decision.
11:8 The disciples say to him, Rabbi, just now the Jews were seeking to stone thee, and thou goest thither again?
To his disciples, it seemed incredulous that Jesus would return to the very place where the Jews tried to stone him. They apparently did not yet understand that Jesus had the ability to hide himself from the view of those who would destroy him. Jesus would not be harmed until the time was right. Jesus knew this, but the disciples did not. They thought it was very foolhardy of Jesus to go back to the vicinity of the temple (see John 8:59).
11:9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walk in the day, he stumbles not, because he sees the light of the world.
Jesus seldom answered his disciples directly without teaching them something. He wanted them to think; therefore, he answered in a way which forced them to consider what he said.
"Are there not twelve hours in the day?" Any of them knew the answer. Of course, there are 12 hours in the day. Then, Jesus added two more things for them to think about. First, "If anyone walk in the day, he stumbles not." The not is the absolute ou.
Second, he stated the reason for not stumbling. "Because he sees the light of the world." The light of the world is the natural light of the sun, which lights the way for anyone who walks in the daytime. Therefore, anyone could see something which might cause them to stumble.
11:10 But if anyone walk in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.
Jesus stated another obvious truth. "If anyone walk in the night, he stumbles." In the dark, obstacles are not clearly perceived. But, the reason he gave was not as obvious as the one for the daytime. "He stumbles because the light is not in him."
In every instance, the word for light comes from phoos. However, the meaning has shifted. "The light is not in him" clearly refers to something other than natural sunlight, or the lack of it. The dark and light implied here are a different species of meaning.
These two terms, dark and light, are often used to symbolize ignorance and knowledge. The person who walks in ignorance of spiritual things will stumble, because "the light is not in him." Spiritual light is that which arises within a person. It comes to those who are seeking to know, and grow in knowledge. II Peter 1:2 states this quite clearly.
"Grace to you and peace be multiplied in [the] knowledge of The God, and of Jesus the lord of us."
Knowledge represents the light which is to grow in us. This knowledge brings a multiplying of grace and peace to our lives. It is also the light which keeps us from stumbling in the spiritual realm of our lives.
11:11 These things he said; and after this he says to them, Lazarus, our friend, has fallen asleep; but I go that I may awake him.
Jesus was beginning to speak more in spiritual terms to his disciples, even though they, too, were mostly ignorant of spiritual things. They often did not comprehend what Jesus meant until after his resurrection, when holy spirit came upon them.
"Has fallen asleep" indicates that Lazarus had died. Jesus knew that Lazarus had suffered a physical death common to all humanity, yet he spoke of it as falling asleep. He said he was going to "go awake him."
11:12 Therefore, his disciples said, lord, if he has fallen asleep he will get well.
The disciples simply understood this in a physical sense. They concluded, quite naturally, that if Lazarus was sick, and was sleeping, this would help him recover his health. But, as was often the case, Jesus would use physical terms to explain spiritual matters.
11:13 But Jesus had spoken of his death. But they thought that he speaks of the rest of sleep.
"Jesus had spoken of his death." Much has been written about what Jesus meant when he equated physical death with sleep. Some believe that Jesus was teaching "soul sleeping," which indicates that the soul somehow survives death in some kind of sleep state. However, nothing in the scriptures teach the survival of the soul.
Most people confuse soul with spirit. The common teaching is that the soul sets man apart from other animals. The scriptures, however, say that both people and animals have souls. The word life, as used in Genesis l:20 regarding animals, is the same life in Genesis 2:7, the life that God breathed into the nostrils of Adam.
When people or animals die, the soul perishes. Ecclesiastes 3:19 clearly states this truth.
"For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast; for all is vanity."
While people and animals both have souls, only people have a spirit. It is this spirit, not the soul, that survives death. Ecclesiastes 3:21 says,
"Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth dowward to the earth?"
And, Ecclesiastes 12:7 says,
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was; and the spirit shall return unto god who gave it."
11:14 Therefore Jesus then said to them, Lazarus died.
Jesus, seeing that the disciples had not understood his hidden meaning, told them plainly that Lazarus had died. Died comes from apethanen, which means,
"the natural death of men" (Thayer, p. 61).
11:15 And I rejoice on your account, that I was not there, in order that ye may believe. But let us go to him.
Even in the death of his friend, Lazarus, Jesus had a reason to rejoice. If Jesus had been there, perhaps he would not have allowed Lazarus to die. But, now, this would give the disciples a view of something they had never seen, "in order that they may believe." Because this is written in the aorist tense it points to a single act (see Rienecker, p. 244). It was this one event which Jesus knew would provide the disciples an opportunity to believe. Believe what? That he is the christ, the son of The God.
11:16 Therefore, Thomas called Didymus, said to the fellow-disciples, Let us go also, that we may die with him.
Although the disciples had limited understanding about Jesus and his purpose, Thomas, at least, was devoted enough to say, "let us go also, that we may die with him." He was certain that if Jesus went that close to Jerusalem, the Pharisees would hear about it and take him and put him to death. If someone challenged the status quo of the Jewish religion, not only was the leader put to death, but also his closest followers. Thomas clearly expected to die with Jesus, and he was willing to do so.
11:17 Therefore, Jesus having come, found him already having been in the tomb four days.
Four days in the tomb would be long enough for the body to become putrid as the Jews did not embalm dead bodies. Decay would have begun the destruction of the flesh, and people understood that.
11:18 Now Bethany was near to Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.
Fifteen furlongs would be about two miles. A furlong, Greek stadion, is
"a measure of length comprising 600 Greek feet, or 625 Roman feet, or 125 Roman paces, hence one eighth of a Roman mile, 6063/4 English feet" (Thayer, p. 585).
This was close enough to Jerusalem to make the fear for their safety a legitimate one.
11:19 And many of the Jews had come unto those around Martha and Mary, that they might console them concerning their brother.
The presence of so many Jews would only exacerbate their fears. The home of Martha and Mary was within easy walking distance of Jerusalem, which accounted for the presence of so many Jews. When word spread that Lazarus had died, these Jews had come to console Martha and Mary.
11:20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus is coming, met him; but Mary was sitting in the house.
Martha was the more active of the two sisters, and she wanted to manage every circumstance. Luke 10:39-42 illustrates this quite well.
"And she [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who also having sat down at the feet of Jesus was listening to his word. But Martha was distracted about much service; and coming up she said, lord, is it no concern to thee that my sister left me alone to serve? Therefore speak to her that she may help me. But Jesus answering said to her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but there is need of one; and Mary chose the good part, which shall not be taken from her."
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him. Whether, Mary also heard that Jesus was coming was not told in the scriptures. Perhaps Martha was outside, while Mary was sitting in the house, mourning the death of their brother.
11:21 Then Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Martha's statement demonstrated great faith in Jesus. Not many at that time would have had that much faith. She clearly believed that Jesus had the ability to heal whatever disease had killed her brother, Lazarus. What did she believe about Jesus that gave her this great faith in him?
11:22 But even now I know that whatsoever thou mayest ask of The God, The God will give thee.
Has Martha understood something more than the disciples did about the relationship between Jesus and The God? Or, was she, too, referring to Jehovah as The God? If the former is true, then she was one of the first who seemed to realize this truth. One thing was certain. She realized that Jesus had a very close relationship with whomever she considered to be The God. Much has been preached about Mary's faith, but not much comment is made about Martha's faith.
11:23 Jesus says to her, Your brother will rise again.
The phrase will rise again comes from anasteesetai, a verb written in the future indicative. The future indicative is often referred to as the prophetic tense. It indicates something which will definitely come to pass. No maybe about it! The manner in which Jesus phrased this makes it as definite as anything could be. Lazarus will rise again sometime in the future. The question in Martha's mind must have been, when?
11:24 Martha says to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection in the last day.
Martha was certainly not a Sadducee because she believed in the resurrection of the dead. Her beliefs were more in line with the Pharisees in this matter. Or, perhaps she had heard the comments Jesus made to the Jews because he had healed the blind man on the Sabbath (see John 5:28-29).
11:25 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believes on me, though he die, he shall live.
"I am the resurrection and the life." The resurrection comes from anastasis, written with the definite article. This shows it to be the specific resurrection, which means the raising from the dead. What did Jesus mean by this remark? Specifically, he meant that because of his work here on earth, which was to please the Father, that he was the cause of the resurrection for all the people who ever lived.
Jesus also is "the life," meaning the spiritual life lived in the knowledge of The God in a place of blessing. Later, "the life" will be lived in the presence of that god. Jesus was given the holy spirit after his ascension. He then shared that holy spirit with all humanity, enabling them to live "the life," or the spiritual life, both here on earth and later in the kingdom of The God.
"He that believes on me." Believes is written in the present tense which shows continuous action. Jesus was not speaking of a one-time act of faith, but one that is continually active. Such believers will receive the promise given in the latter part of this verse.
"Though he die, he shall live." Both die and live are written in the future tense. Whenever anyone dies physically in the future, if he has lived with a continuous faith in Jesus, as the christ, then he shall live. That live, or life, will be a spiritual living in a place of blessing.
11:26 And everyone who lives and believes on me, in no wise shall die forever. Believeth thou this?
The word "everyone" indicates that Jesus was including every person without prejudice. All are equal in the sight of The God. All have the same opportunity to live for The God. "Everyone who lives and believes on me" limits the rest of the promise to those who do not reject the grace of The God in their lives.
Believes is written in the perfect tense. This is a believing which was complete in its beginning, and the results of this faith continue. A one-time faith, without any future continuation, is void. Believing must be a continual force, changing the way we live our lives. Too many people today think that all they have to do is believe in Jesus as their personal savior, and that one time act will guarantee them a place in heaven. However, that is not what the Bible says.
Jesus asked Martha, "Believeth thou this?" Do you believe what I have been telling you? What a tremendous question! Today, we have the blessing of knowing about the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus to the right hand of the Father in heaven. Martha had no such knowledge, but she stated what she did believe.
11:27 She says to him, yea lord; I have believed that thou art the christ, the son of The God, who comes into the world.
Martha must have listened carefully to what Jesus had told her. She did not hesitate, or equivocate. She used two terms which are nearly synonymous to describe the office which Jesus was given by the Father in heaven. First, she believed that Jesus was "the christ." Not just any christ, but the christ, with the definite article, which limits it to being the specific christ, or the anointed one.
Second, Martha said she believed that Jesus was "the son of The God." In the Greek, there are three manners in which similar terms may be written. (1) "A son of a god," which was the statement of the thief who was crucified with Jesus. He did not recognize Jesus as the son of The God, but only a demi-god, or someone who was somewhat more than a man. (2) It may be written as "a son of The God." This is more specific, and is a term which would be used to describe a king, prophet, or sometimes a priest. Such a person would also be anointed to their office. (3) The third manner in which this can be written is "the son of The God." This third option is the expression Martha used.
"Who comes into the world." In Martha's time there was a rising interest in the coming of the messiah. People believed the coming messiah would deliver them from the bondage of the Romans. This could be the reason she stated her belief that "Jesus was the christ coming into the world."
Coming is from erkomai, which would be the term used to indicate that someone was coming to visit. It is a different word than parousia, or coming, which was used to describe the return of Jesus to rule and reign over the earth.
Parousia was used to describe a king coming to his kingdom, with his subjects awaiting his coming. When they saw his entourage afar off, they would all go to meet him, and escort him into the city. Just so, when Jesus returns, the overcomers with spiritual bodies will rise to meet him in the sky, and escort him back to earth.
11:28 And these things having said, she went away, and called Mary, her sister, secretly, saying, The teacher is come and calls thee.
Why would Martha call Mary secretly? Remember, there were many Jews who had come to comfort the sisters, and their father Simon, the leper, after the death of Lazarus. Jesus must have had her call Mary secretly in order that he could speak privately with her. Mary must not have known until then that Jesus, the teacher, had come. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she had gone out to meet him.
It is interesting to note that Martha referred to Jesus as "the teacher" when she spoke to Mary. This might infer that Jesus had come to their home previously and taught them about the scriptures.
11:29 When she heard, she rises up quickly and comes to him.
Based on her reaction, Mary was also anxious to meet with Jesus. She did not hesitate. Since Martha had come to her secretly, Mary must have tried to visit Jesus in the same manner. Up until now, it had never been stated where Martha met Jesus, nor where it was that Mary also went to see him.
11:30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him.
This verse indicates that Jesus met Martha somewhere outside the village of Bethany. He was still there when Mary came. He undoubtedly hoped to visit with Mary privately, as he had with Martha.
11:31 Therefore the Jews who were with her in the house and consoling her, having seen Mary that she rose up quickly, followed her, saying, She is going to the tomb that she may weep there.
Mary did not get away undetected when she went to meet with Jesus. The Jews assumed she was going to the tomb, and followed her.
11:32 Mary, therefore, when she came where Jesus was, seeing him, fell at his feet, saying to him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
First of all, Mary "fell at his feet." By doing this, she acknowledged her great respect for him. Lord is capitalized here as it is the beginning of a sentence. Usually, it is not capitalized, as it is not a proper noun.
Mary, too, believed that Jesus could have saved her brother if he had been there. Remember, though, that Jesus had stayed away so that his father might be glorified by the death of Lazarus. However, neither Martha nor Mary were aware of this.
11:33 Therefore, Jesus, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, he groaned in the spirit, and troubled himself.
Jesus "groaned in the spirit." It is no wonder that the scriptures speak of Jesus as "a man of sorrows." It is beyond our human understanding how he was capable of bearing all his burden. It was only because he had holy spirit without measure that he was capable, as a human being, of bearing the burden which was put upon him.
Groaned comes from enebrimeesato, an aorist middle, which means that this was a one time incident, and that Jesus was participating in the results. Thayer (p. 207) defines this word as,
"to be moved in anger, to be very very angry, to be moved with indignation."
Why was Jesus so angry and indignant? The scriptures do not say, but it could have been his anger at the diseases which had beset mankind because of Adam's sin. He was seeing the end results of that first small inroad of disobedience to his father's command.
The term he troubled himself comes from etarazen, which means,
"To shake, to trouble, to be disturbed, to shudder (Brown). He now voluntarily and deliberately accepts and makes his own the emotion and the experience from which it is his purpose to deliver men (Lightfoot)" (Rienecker, p. 245).
This definition helps us understand Jesus' depth of feeling. He was literally shaking, and shuddering from the weight of what he saw in those whom he dearly loved.
11:34 And said, Where have you laid him? They say to him, Lord come and see.
The question, "Where have you laid him?", raises an interesting question. Why, did Jesus, who knew the hearts of men, not know where Lazarus was entombed? Did his knowledge only extend to the spiritual matters of men, and not to physical matters?
11:35 Jesus wept.
Perhaps he wept because those around him were weeping. Or, it could have been because he saw the end of all humanity, and the sorrow death was going to bring to so many. Adam's sin had ended not only in his own death, but in the death of all those who lived after him.
11:36 Then said the Jews. Behold! How he loved him.
Since Jesus knew what he was going to do, it is doubtful that he was weeping over the death of Lazarus. The Jews were most likely mistaken in their assumption about his motivation for weeping.
11:37 But some of them said, was not this man who opened the eyes of the blind [man], to have caused also that this one should not have died?
These Jews were still disagreeing among themselves, even here at the home of Lazarus. Some thought Jesus was weeping because of "how much he loved him." Others wondered, if he could open the eyes of the blind man, why had he not prevented Lazarus from dying? Some of these Jews either were present at the time that Jesus healed the blind man, or they had heard of the event from others.
11:38 Therefore, Jesus again groaning within himself, comes to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying upon it.
This is a bit different than the earlier verse which stated that Jesus groaned in spirit. This clarifies the expression "in spirit." It was in the depths of his innermost self.
When they came to the tomb, it was "a cave, and a stone lying upon it." The usual tomb of that day was either a natural cave, or one that had been hollowed out of a hillside. The cave, or tomb, was used to bury the members of the family who owned it. It was not used for just one person, but for all the deceased family members over a period of time. Within the tomb, there was usually an ossuary, where the bones of the dead were placed after the flesh had completely decayed. The phrase, "They slept with their fathers," meant that their bones had joined those of their ancestors.
"And a stone was lying upon it." This was the usual means of enclosing the tomb. The stone sealed the tomb and kept out any animals which might disturb the body. The stone was quite large and heavy, and difficult to move. This also discouraged anyone from entering the tomb for any reason.
11:39 Jesus says, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of him who had died, says to him, Lord, already he stinks, for it is four days.
When Jesus told those standing by to "take away the stone," Martha protested. Decay had already begun, and there would be a terrific odor. Without embalming, disintegration of the flesh would have been so far advanced that the smell would have been very offensive.
11:40 Jesus says to her. Said I not to thee, that if thou shouldest believe, thou shalt see the glory of The God?
"Thou shalt see the glory of The God" was a reference to his earlier conversation with Martha. The glory of The God which she would see would be her brother arising again. In context, Martha believed that Jesus was speaking of the general resurrection, not just that of her brother. Jesus knew he was going to restore Lazarus to natural life again, but Martha did not.
11:41 Therefore they took away the stone where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted [his] eyes upwards, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me.
Even as they obeyed his command, people must have been curious as to what Jesus was going to do
The word father was capitalized here because it is the beginning of a sentence; normally, it was not. Jesus said, "I thank thee that thou heardest me." This would indicate that he had previously approached the Father about raising Lazarus from the dead. Heardest indicates that Jesus knew he had received the authority to do this in order to bring glory to his father.
11:42 And I knew that thou always hearest me; but on account of the crowd who stand around I said [it] that they might believe that thou didst send me.
What a wonderful statement for a human being to say honestly. There are some today who claim this for themselves, but, the honesty of such claims is highly questionable. Jesus could make such a statement because everything he did or said was given to him by his heavenly father. Thus, anything he might ask was certain to be in the perfect will of The God.
Jesus explained that it was "on account of the crowd." He wanted them to know that his heavenly father had sent him.
11:43 And these things having said, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
Loud comes from kraugazoo, which means to shout. It was not with a quiet voice that Jesus called to Lazarus. He wanted to make sure that all those standing around could hear when he spoke.
Come forth comes from two Greek words: deuro and ekoo. This is written as an imperative, or a command. Deuro is an adverb of place, or as the English would say, "here." Ekoo literally means "outside." Therefore, the command Jesus shouted would be to us, "Here! Outside!"
11:44 And he who had been dead came forth, bound feet and hands with grave clothes with a handkerchief bound about his face. Jesus says to them, Loose him and let [him] go.
This was the seventh miracle cited by John. Lazarus was no longer dead. He "came forth, bound feet and hands with grave clothes." But, in what manner did Lazarus manage to come forth? He definitely did not walk out of the tomb! He "was bound feet and hands with grave clothes."
Grave clothes comes from keiria, which were,
"for tying up a corpse after it has been swathed in linen: in this sense in Jn.xi:44" (Thayer, p. 343).
Both his feet and his hands were bound, or tied. How, then, did he come forth? Did he float out because of the power in Jesus' voice? However it happened, we can assume that Lazarus did not come forth under his own power.
"He had a handkerchief bound about his face." This would have kept Lazarus from seeing where he was going. It should not be forgotten that Jesus, by resurrecting Lazarus, was giving living proof to Martha and Mary that he is the resurrection. Or, that he had the power to raise the dead.
John 5:28-29 said that
"all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth."
Also, I Thessalonians 4:16 says that the lord will
"descend with a shout of command, with archangel's voice and with a trumpet of a god."
Note that when the lord shouts that it is with an archangel's voice.
Arch means of the high order of whatever is used in conjunction with it. Here, it is the word angel, therefore compelling one to say that the lord, or Jesus, was an archangel, or an angel of the highest order. The basic meaning of angel is messenger. Jesus would be the highest messenger sent by The God to awaken the dead from their graves.
The Thessalonian passage also mentions a trumpet of a god. Trumpet sounds were used in all the travels of the Israelites as a means to gather the people together. This is the same purpose as that of emptying the graves. After the resurrection, then the trumpet sounds, and there is a gathering of all of those resurrected for the judgment seat of Jesus, the Christ. In the case of Lazarus, since he was the only one whom Jesus wanted to raise, there was no sounding of the trumpet.
11:45 Therefore many of the Jews, who came to Mary and saw what Jesus did, believed on him.
When Lazarus came out of the grave alive, this was definitive proof that Jesus was the resurrection and the life. Many of the Jews who had come to comfort Mary, "saw what Jesus did" and they" believed on him."
On comes from eis, which conveys the sense of into. The English has no equivalent sense. Therefore, it is translated as on, or upon. But eis, if it could be illustrated, would be like a dot outside a circle, with a line which joined another point within the circle. Thus, these Jews had believed into Jesus, or, into the fact that he was the messiah, because they had seen him bring Lazarus back to life.
11:46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus did.
There was still a division among the Jews, just as had happened before. The unbelieving Jews knew that if they went to the Pharisees, Jesus would be in trouble again. Whether they were consciously cooperating with the Pharisees, or were honestly convinced that Jesus was some kind of an imposter was not explained.
11:47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many signs.
The Pharisees have been joined by the chief priests as allies. The chief priests were the absolute spiritual leaders of Israel. The chief priests had the authority to call a council. The council would involve the Sanhedrin, the group of priests who ruled over Israel.
Note that this council, the Sanhedrin, was not to ascertain the truth about Jesus, but to determine what they were going to do about him. Why? Because he "does many signs."
11:48 Thus if we let him alone, all will believe on him, and the Romans will come and will take away from us both the place and the nation.
They were not concerned that the signs proved that Jesus was the messiah, but they were concerned about what Rome would do.
This episode represents the ugly side of organized religion, when leaders are guided primarily by political interests. Most religious denominations are politically active these days. Jesus never allowed what was politically correct to even enter his thinking. His only concern was with what brought glory to his heavenly father, the invisible god.
The Sanhedrin feared that if Jesus were let alone that he would garner so many followers that the Romans would come and see about all the excitement. They believed that the Romans would fear an uprising, and that would result in them having "both the place and the nation" taken from them. Place comes from topon, indicating an area that is occupied by people, in this case, the Jews.
They were speaking about the physical area of Israel. The nation referred to the occupants of that area, or the Jewish nation. The Sanhedrin feared losing their land, and the people themselves. That would also mean that the Pharisees and the high priests would lose their authority and their positions of honor.
11:49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them. Ye know nothing.
"A certain one of them" referred to a member of the Sanhedrin, the high priest. Lockyear says about him:
"Joseph Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas, was high priest of the Jews for eighteen years (Matt. 26:3, 57).
Dr. David Smith (quoted in Lockyear) refers to this wicked man whom the spirit of God used to declare divine purposes as,
"a man of masterful temper, with his full share of the insolence which was a Sadducaean characteristic."
Lockyear also notes that,
"The Sadduceees were a sect among the Jews, so-called from their founder Sadoc, who lived about 260 years before Jesus. Caiaphas, as an ardent Sadducee, figures three times in the New Testament."
"He said to them, ye know nothing." Caiaphas, as the high priest, presided over the council. He was an abrupt man, as evidenced by his remark to them.
11:50 Nor consider that it is profitable for us that one man should die for the people, and the whole nation should not perish.
Caiaphas was chastising the rest of the Sanhedrin for their apparent ignorance. He had a different idea. He thought he had an solution to the problem that would benefit the nation of Israel.
11:51 But this he said not from himself, but being high priest of that year, prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation.
Caiaphas was giving a prophesy about Jesus which even he did not understand. He was speaking under the aegis of holy spirit. Although Caiaphas was unfit, the holy spirit still used him. "He said this not from himself, but being high priest of that year." At that time, the person who held the office was not as important to The God as the office itself. Therefore, Caiaphas was used of holy spirit to speak what The God wanted him to say.
11:52 And not for the nation only, but that also the children of The God who have been scattered abroad he might gather together into one.
To Caiaphas, the people meant the Israelites, as he said "the nation," but The God meant it to include both the Jews and the Gentiles. "But also the children of The God who have been scattered abroad." Jesus died for all of humanity. Caiaphas spoke far beyond his understanding.
Such a lack of complete understanding about the content of a prophesy occurred throughout the Old Testament. It was not even unusual in the New Testament. The God used men to speak what he wanted them to say.
Caiaphas went on to say "that he might gather (them) together into one."
Isaiah 49:6 records the words of Jehovah to Isaiah.
"And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raised up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel : I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the world."
Paul and Barnabas were preaching to a large crowd when some Jews, activated by jealousy over the large crowds which had come to hear them, began to argue with them. Acts 13:46-48 says,
"Speaking boldly Paul and Barnabas said, To you was necessary first to be spoken the word of The God; but since ye thrust it away, and ye judge yourselves not worth of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles; for thus the lord has enjoined us, I have set thee for a light of [the] Gentiles, that thou be for salvation to [the] uttermost part of the earth. And hearing it, the Gentiles rejoiced, and glorified the word of the lord, and as many as believed were appointed to life eternal."
Caiaphas, an ungodly man acting in the office of high priest, saw that the prophesy in Isaiah had been fulfilled by Jesus. This had to be due to holy spirit moving upon him.
11:53 Therefore from that day, they took counsel together that they might kill him.
It was no longer a few Jews, mostly Pharisees, here and there who wanted to kill Jesus. Now, it was the official policy of the Sanhedrin, the highest authority in Israel. Their counsel. or decision, was "that they might kill him." This would be equivalent to the Supreme Court of the United States passing a death sentence upon someone, and then plotting to implement it.
11:54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked among the Jews publicly, but went away thence into the country near the desert, to a city called Ephraim; and there he stayed with his disciples.
There are a number of different Greek words which are translated as therefore. The one used here, oun,
"denotes a much stricter sequence of thought than often in this gospel" (Rienecker, p. 246).
Oun shows an urgency which is not present in many of the other Greek words translated as "therefore." It was imperative that Jesus leave the area where he was.
Ephraim was about 10 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Not a long distance today, but a day's journey on foot. It was far enough from Jerusalem, the seat of the Sanhedrin, that Jesus must have felt safe "as he stayed there with his disciples."
11:55 Now the passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, that they might purify themselves.
When Jesus previously went up to the Passover, he created a ruckus by healing the blind man on the sabbath.
"Many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover." Some went up sooner than others because they wanted to undergo a ceremonial rite. This rite was for the purpose "that they might purify themselves." Purify comes from agnisoosiv, an aorist subjunctive, which means,
"ceremonially, to cleanse themselves from levitical pollution by means of prayers, abstinence, washings, sacrifices" (Thayer, p. 7).
The only reason for using the word "might" was because, contextually, they had not yet achieved their goal, which was to "purify themselves." As has often been stated, the aorist subjunctive in most cases, as here, is equivalent to the future indicative, which means something will happen, not that it may happen, as the English "might" would infer.
11:56 Therefore they were seeking Jesus, and standing in the temple, were saying among one another, What does it seem to you, that in no wise he will come to the feast?
These Jews standing around in the temple area were discussing whether of not Jesus would come. They were aware of the Sanhedrin's decision to have Jesus killed. Some, as usual, were divided in their opinions as to whether Jesus should or should not die. Jesus, being born under the law, was a practicing Jew, and would normally be expected to attend Passover. But, not seeing Jesus, they wondered if perchance he would not come because of the inherent danger in attending.
11:57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone should know where he is he should shew [it], that they might take him."
After the Sanhedrin decided to have Jesus killed, both "the Pharisees and the chief priests" were diligently telling people that they were expected to turn in this renegade, Jesus, so that he would get the penalty due him. This command had all the authority of both the ruling party, and the Sanhedrin, the ruling council, and few Jews would dare oppose it.
Such is the power of every organized religion. The underlings are either seduced into complying with the will of the rulers, or coerced through fear. Such a penalty is usually accompanied by the dire assertion that those who do not comply will end up spiritually dead, and will go to hell, because salvation is to be found only in that specific organization. Many people will avoid such a penalty, at almost any cost. It is spiritual ignorance, the lack of knowledge about what the Bible actually teaches, that leaves both laity and clergy vulnerable to such lies.
# The Israelites did not know about the invisible god; they worshiped
Jehovah, the revelation of the invisible god, as though he were the only
god, The God himself.
# Jehovah came in the flesh, as Jesus, for the specific purpose of revealing
the presence of the invisible god, and also to bring glory to him.
Ironically, by accepting the doctrine of the trinity, people today make
the same mistake the Israelites did: they still worship, in ignorance, the
one who revealed The God, as if he were The God.
# John did not follow a chronological sequence in the life of Jesus. John
often skipped from one area of his life to another, without regard to
when events actually occurred, and it is often difficult to determine the
chronological order of events.
# Agape is an act of the will, while phileo is based upon emotion. Phileo is
normally used to indicate close relationships, such as those with family
members or close friends.
# Jesus usually spoke of himself as the son of the man, or the superlative
example of man. The son of The God was the terminology used when
one wished to refer to Jesus as the king of Israel, or messiah, or christ.
# These two terms, dark and light, are often used to symbolize ignorance
and knowledge. The person who walks in ignorance of spiritual things
will stumble, because "the light is not in him." Spiritual light is that
which arises within a person. It comes to those who are seeking to
know, and grow in knowledge.
# Most people confuse soul with spirit. The common teaching is that the
soul sets man apart from other animals. The scriptures, however, say
that both people and animals have souls. When people or animals die,
the soul perishes. While people and animals both have souls, only
people have a spirit. It is this spirit, not the soul, that survives death.
# A one-time faith, without any future continuation, is void. Believing
must be a continual force, changing the way we live our lives.
# Coming (erkomai) would be the term used to indicate that someone was
coming to visit. It is a different word than parousia (coming) which was
used to describe the return of Jesus to rule and reign over the earth.
Parousia was used to describe a king coming to his kingdom, with his
subjects awaiting his coming. When they saw his entourage afar off,
they would all go to meet him, and escort him into the city. Just so,
when Jesus returns, the overcomers with spiritual bodies will rise to
meet him in the sky, and escort him back to earth.
# It is beyond our human understanding how Jesus was capable of
bearing all his burden. It was only because he had holy spirit without
measure that he was capable, as a human being, of bearing the burden
which was put upon him.
# Jesus could honestly say that The God always heard him because
everything he did or said was given to him by his heavenly father.
Thus, anything he might ask was certain to be in the perfect will of The
# Arch means of the high order of whatever is used in conjunction with it.
Here, it is the word angel, therefore compelling one to say that the lord,
or Jesus, was an archangel, or an angel of the highest order. The basic
meaning of angel is messenger. Jesus would be the highest messenger
sent by The God to awaken the dead from their graves.
# This episode (11:48) represents the ugly side of organized religion, when
leaders are guided primarily by political interests. Most religious
denominations are politically active these days. Jesus never allowed
what was politically correct to even enter his thinking. His only
concern was with what brought glory to his heavenly father, the
# Such is the power of every organized religion. The underlings are either
seduced into complying with the will of the rulers, or coerced through
fear. Such a penalty is usually accompanied by the dire assertion that
those who do not comply will end up spiritually dead, and will go to
hell, because salvation is to be found only in that specific organization.
Many people will avoid such a penalty, at almost any cost. It is
spiritual ignorance, the lack of knowledge about what the Bible
actually teaches, that leaves both laity and clergy vulnerable to such