John 11

1 Bethany means, "house of unripe figs," and it was located on the east slope of the Mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem.
2 John foreshadows John 12:3 here.

John is emphasizing that Mary, Martha, and Lazarus are sisters and brothers.

3 There is no request for Jesus to come to them. Perhaps they assumed that because of their special friendship with Jesus (John 11:5), He would come quickly.
4 Jesus would go to them, but not immediately. His timing and action would glorify God more than if He left immediately.

Jesus indicates the seriousness of the sickness by indicating that death would not have the final say in this matter. In fact, Lazarus was probably already dead when Jesus heard Mary and Martha's message.

When we have a serious problem come up we might lose hope when it seems that God is "too late" in answering us. This event would show that God is never too late to solve problems we can not.

6 Jesus was probably about twenty miles from Bethany. He could have made it there in a day, but He tarried so that God's plan would happen at the correct time.
7 Finally, Jesus announces that it is time to return to Judea. He does not specify Bethany specifically, but perhaps it was anticipated that Jesus would visit Mary and Martha because of the message two days earlier.
8 The disciples were astonished that Jesus would attempt to go back, considering that His life had already been threatened twice there. They may have mistakenly assumed that Jesus had not immediately gone to Mary and Martha because He was afraid for His life.
9 Jesus was still the light of the world and He was going to do whatever the Father told Him to do.
10 Jesus again asserts that there will be a time of darkness when people will not be able to do the works of God.
11 Jesus uses a euphemism to describe Lazarus' death. If the disciples had recognized this, they would have seen that the "waking up" of Lazarus meant "resurrection."
12 Rest is often prescribed for those who are sick. It allows the body time to heal itself. The disciples objected because waking up Lazarus would interfere with this natural healing process.
14 Since the disciples did not understand that He was using a euphemism, Jesus plainly tells them that Lazarus is dead.
15 Although normally considered a tragedy, Jesus indicates that He is glad that Lazarus died. Referring to what He had already alluded to, He would now be able to bring Lazarus back from the dead to glorify God and strengthen the disciples' faith.
16 Thomas' nickname is "the Twin" (Greek: Didymus). It is likely that he had a twin, or he may have looked like someone else. One ancient manuscript entitled "Thomas the Contender" identifies Thomas as Jesus' literal twin brother. However, no other internal or extrabiblical text makes this claim. The gospels tell us that Jesus' parents had other children after Jesus, but they were always described as unbelievers until after Jesus' resurrection. If Jesus had a twin brother who was also a follower, it would have been important enough to note in the Gospels.
17 This indicates that Lazarus had probably died shortly after the messenger had been dispatched.
19 Mary and Martha apparently had many friends in nearby Jerusalem. They were, of course, Jewish. John often uses the term "Jew" to indicate specifically the Jewish leaders, but here it is not being used in this specialized sense.
20 When Martha heard that Jesus was approaching, she immediately went out to meet Him. Apparently, no one told Mary, so she remained in the house grieving.
21 Martha makes no accusations, but simply regrets that Jesus had not been there to save her brother from death. No one ever died in Jesus' presence.
22 This is a perplexing statement, considering that for the rest of their discussion it appears that Martha thinks that Jesus can do nothing about the present situation. Perhaps she is stating that she still believes Jesus is a great healer despite her own brother's death. Perhaps she is alluding to pagan mythologies were a god has released a person from death after earnest pleading.
24 Martha already believes that there will be a resurrection from the dead at the end of time, but she does not realize that Jesus was speaking of Lazarus' resurrection as an imminent occurrence.
25 Jesus states that He has power over life and death. Even if someone dies, He has the ability to make him live again.
26 This may be taken in the sense that either death is not a permanent condition or that a resurrected person will never die again. We know that believers have been dying physically the same as non-believers, but there will be a day when we are raised from the dead and given new bodies that will never get sick or die. The believer's eternal life with God is the true definition of eternal life.
27 Martha may not have understood exactly what Jesus was speaking of, but she does state what she already knows. Jesus is both God's Son and the Messiah. She believes that the resurrection of the dead will occur on the Last Day, and perhaps that the Messiah will be in charge of it, but she sees that day as far off.
28 Jesus then asked Martha to tell Mary that He had arrived and wanted to speak with her.
29 Mary desperately wanted to be comforted by Jesus and immediately went to Him when she heard that He had arrived.
31 The mourners did not hear what Martha said to Mary. They assumed that in her grief Mary went running out to the tomb of her brother. They followed her so they could be with her and comfort her.
32 Again, as Martha did, Mary regrets that Jesus was not present to prevent Lazarus' death. Mary, too, seems to feel that Jesus could do nothing now, but she was glad that He came to comfort them.
33 Jesus was probably troubled at the heartbreaking effects of sin. The hopelessness of the mourners probably also troubled Him.
35 Jesus displayed a full range of human emotions during His ministry. Although He knew that He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, He still empathized with the mourners. He was distressed at what Lazarus had gone through knowing that He would soon be experiencing death Himself.
36 Jesus' piety did not make him aloof and cold. He cared very much for these people and it showed.
37 The Jews did not see that Jesus was more than a man. Like Mary and Martha, they may have believed that Jesus could have cured Lazarus, but they felt that Jesus had no power over death.
38 Jesus is again troubled, but this time He is troubled by the people's disbelief and the questioning of His power and origin.
39 Having arrived at the tomb, Jesus asks people to participate in the miracle that is about to occur. Martha objects, knowing that a body that has been in a cave for four days has certainly began to putrefy. Martha could not imagine why Jesus would want to see a body in that condition.
40 Referring to their previous discussion, Jesus was now going to clarify what He said with actions that could not be misinterpreted.
41 Jesus' prayer was meant to be heard by those around Him. He did not plead for Lazarus' life, but simply confirmed that He and the Father were in constant communication. The intent of this prayer was to let the doubters know that Jesus was sent by God and He was doing the Father's will.
43 With a strong command, Jesus tells Lazarus to come out. This undoubtedly astonished the people there. How could Jesus demand a dead man to come out of the tomb?
44 To their further amazement, the dead man came out of the tomb alive.

Jewish burial custom dictated that the dead body be wrapped with many strips of linen, which now made Lazarus look like he was tied up. The head had a separate cloth wrapped around it.

45 With their doubts removed, the people could now see that Jesus did have power over death. Jesus had proven to them that He lived up to the titles of "Son of God" and "Messiah."
46 Motivation is not clearly indicated here, but it seems that these were "tattle tales." They went to warn the Pharisees that Jesus was continuing to do miracles that would subvert the authority of the religious leaders.
48 The religious leaders had been ineffective in stopping Jesus' ministry. They had hoped to kill Jesus earlier, but He kept eluding them. While they wanted a Messiah that would rally Israel into an army to defeat Rome, they considered Jesus' mode of operation a threat. They were afraid that Rome would become suspicious of the crowds that Jesus was attracting, increase their military presence, remove the remaining Jewish leadership, and then assimilate the country completely.
50 The high priest silences the debate. It is clear to him that the only way to stop Jesus' ministry is to kill him. Their primary objective from that point on would be to capture and eliminate Jesus.
51 While the high priest was thinking that executing Jesus would save the Jews from Rome, the words were really planted there by God to indicate that Jesus' death would bring salvation to the world.
52 John foreshadows one of the mysteries of salvation. It would be available to Jews and Gentiles. Much more is said about this topic in Acts and the subsequent books of the New Testament.
54 Jesus would remain elusive until the appointed time for His death. He stayed for a time in a desert town about twelve miles north of Bethany.
56 Jesus had been at the last two Passover feasts, and they were expecting Him to attend again. They grew impatient waiting for Him.
57 There was a warrant out for Jesus' arrest, and everyone knew it. The leadership was very eager to capture and kill Jesus, and they were not ashamed to let everyone know about it.