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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures

John 11

 

 

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Verses 1-27

Jesus Testifies of His Deity: The Resurrection and Life - John 11:1-27 records Jesus' testimony of His deity as the Resurrection and the Life. Based upon His previous testimonies of His predestination, divine calling, justification, doctrine, and divine service, He must also be our resurrection and life. This testimony precedes the raising of Lazarus from the dead ( John 11:28-44).

John 11:1Comments- The name "Lazarus" is very likely the Greek form for the Hebrew name "Eliezar." 224]

224] F. C. Cook, ed, The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (A.D 1611), with an Explanatory and Critical Commentary and a Revision of the Translation, by Bishops and Other Clergy of the Anglican Church, New Testament, vol 2 (London: John Murray, 1880), 164.

John 11:2Comments - John the apostle records this story in John 12:3, "Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment."

John 11:4Comments- John opens his Gospel by stating in John 1:14 that his Gospel is intended to reveal the glory that Christ Jesus had with the Heavenly Father. Each miracle that John recorded was done in order to reveal His glory. In these miracles, it was not the sickness itself, but rather the miraculous healing, that brought glory to God. In John 11:4 Jesus will be glorified and will glorify the Father through the resurrection of Lazarus. This aspect of His glorification will reflect the resurrection or glorification of God's children in God's plan of redemption for mankind. The resurrection of Lazarus will reflect the final phase of man's redemption.

John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

The preceding five miracles have also reflected the thematic scheme of God's plan of redemption for mankind. We see Jesus making similar references to His glory being revealed by the miracles recorded in John ( John 2:11; John 9:3; John 11:4; John 11:40).

John 2:11, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."

John 9:3, "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

John 11:4, "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."

John 11:40, "Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"

John 11:6Comments - Jesus had fled Judea because of increased persecution from the Jewish leaders and travelled on the east side of the Jordan River ( John 10:40).

John 11:8Comments - The Jewish leaders were trying to seize Jesus and stone Him while in Jerusalem ( John 10:31-39).

John 11:9Comments - In John 11:9 the word "light" represents walking in the light of God's Word. Therefore, walking in darkness is walking without God"s direction and presence.

John 11:8-10Comments - Walking in the Light- The disciples seem to ask Jesus if He really knew where He was walking. Jesus replies about walking in daylight to illustrate that He is walking in the light, or under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

John 11:11Comments - Perhaps Paul uses the term "sleepeth" in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 because of the way Jesus used this term in John 11:11.

1 Thessalonians 4:14, "For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him."

John 11:11Comments - Jesus is also able to bring resurrection life to us and to the churches today.

John 11:16 — "which is called Didymus" - Comments- Didymus was the surname of Thomas. It means, "two-fold, double, or twin" (Strong). This word unique to the Gospel of John , not being found in the Synoptic Gospels. This name is found two other times in John"s Gospel.

John 20:24, "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came."

John 21:2, "There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples."

We have no record in the Scriptures of when Thomas received this surname, whether it was given by Jesus, or by someone else.

John 11:16Comments - In John 11:16 we see Thomas in his struggle to believe the words of Jesus about the resurrection of Lazarus, just as he does upon hearing of the resurrection of Jesus ( John 20:24-25).

John 20:24-25, "But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."

John 11:20Comments - Jesus had recently escaped from the Jews in Jerusalem ( John 10:39-40), so He was showing Himself publically to large crowds at this time. Although He comes to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus did not enter the home of Martha and Mary in the city ( John 11:30). Rather, He stopped at a distance, and Martha and Mary went out of their house to meet Him. From that meeting, they went to the tomb where Lazarus was laid. At this point in His public ministry, Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews ( John 11:54; John 12:36).

John 10:39-40, "Therefore they sought again to take him: but he escaped out of their hand, And went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode."

John 11:30, "Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him."

John 11:54, "Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples."

John 12:36, "While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them."


Verses 1-54

The Sixth Miracle: The Testimony of Lazarus - The death of Lazarus provides Jesus an opportunity to reveal the final aspect of His divinity, the fact that He will resurrect from the dead to eternal life those who believe in Him. This miracle will incite the Jews who oppose Him to kill Jesus.

Outline: Here is a proposed outline:

1. Jesus Testifies of His Deity (Resurrection & Life) — John 11:1-27

2. The Raising of Lazarus — John 11:28-44

3. The Plot to Kill Jesus — John 11:45-54


Verses 28-44

The Sixth Miracle: The Raising of Lazarus - John 11:28-44 tells us the story of how Jesus Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, the sixth miracle that testifies of Jesus as our resurrection through faith in Him.

John 11:29 Comments- Mary immediately responds to Jesus' call.

John 11:31Comments - Mary was weeping at Jesus' feet. There was another woman that had prayed like this in the Old Testament. Her name was Hannah ( 1 Samuel 1:10). God hears the prayers of those with a broken and contrite heart.

1 Samuel 1:10, "And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore."

John 11:35Comments- Everything that Jesus did, even his emotional expressions, were the moving and work of the Holy Spirit.

Illustration- I witnessed Jack Emerson falling down weeping and prophesied after church one night. He later told me that it was not him weeping, but the Spirit moving through him. As another example, in the mid-90's, I woke up one morning, weeping for the lost souls of mankind. I knew that this was not a natural sorrow, but a moving of the Holy Spirit within me, which I understood many years later as a preparation for the mission field.

John 11:36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

John 11:37 And some of them said, Could not this Prayer of Manasseh , which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

John 11:37Comments- Even today people ask the same question that people asked during the time of Jesus Christ. They question why God did something this way or that. In our short sightedness, we want to see God bring immediate relief to a suffering humanity. We must learn to trust Him, knowing that His long-term goals are often much better than short-term relief. Jesus allowed Lazarus to die of his illness in order to bring glory to the Heavenly Father and to the Son by raising him from the dead. This miracle was a much greater testimony of the Father's love than a simply healing. God wants to use our lives in a way that brings Him the greatest glory. This means that we may have to endure as Paul did on many occasions in order for God to be glorified in us. It does not mean that sickness and poverty is God's plan, for Jesus redeemed us from the curse. Rather, it means that we should lay down our desires and follow God's will in our lives to bring Him glory.

John 11:38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

John 11:33-38Comments- Jesus Travails With Tears - John 11:33-35 describes an occasion when Jesus was deeply troubled in His spirit and began to weep. We must be careful not to interpret this event in Jesus' life as something that took place in His emotions; for it tells us that before Jesus wept, He "groaned in the spirit, and was troubled." We must interpret is as a work and manifestation of the Holy Spirit stirring inside of Him and breaking forth through weeping. We call it travailing in the Spirit. I remember watching one of my mentors in the early 1980's having this similar experience. After the church service, the pastor and several of us gathered around in a circle and began to pray. Within a few minutes Jack Emerson began to tremble and groan, then fell to the floor and began to weep. We all waited while he regained his composure and strength and stood up. He later told some of us that this was not him weeping, but the moving of the Holy Spirit within him. When Jesus began to weep, the people around only saw it in the natural realm ( John 11:36-37). It was this type travail and weeping in the Spirit that was necessary in order for this miracle to break forth and manifest as the resurrection of Lazarus.

We will read about another incident of Jesus in travail in the Garden of Gethsemane; for in the Garden Jesus said, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." ( Matthew 26:38). This is a description of Jesus experiencing a heavy weight in His Spirit and being moved into prayer for a release of this weight. Dutch Sheets says that this event was a fulfillment of Isaiah 53:11, "He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities." 225]

225] Dutch Sheets, Intercessory Prayer (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1996), 129.

We also see a reference to this type of travail and weeping in Psalm 126:6.

Psalm 126:6, "He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."

We know that Paul the apostle experienced it according to Galatians 4:19.

Galatians 4:19, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,"

John 11:40 — "If thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God" - Comments- Smith Wigglesworth says that we must believe God before we see the manifestation. 226] A sinner must put his trust in God before he experiences the glory of salvation. God"s plan for our lives is always faith first; then His miracle-working glory will be revealed to us.

226] Smith Wigglesworth, Smith Wigglesworth: The Complete Collection of His Life Teachings, ed. Roberts Lairdon (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1996), 287.

John 11:40Comments- John opens his Gospel by stating in John 1:14 that his Gospel is intended to reveal the glory that Christ Jesus had with the Heavenly Father. Each miracle that John recorded was done so to reveal His glory. In these miracles, it was not the sickness by itself, but rather the miraculous healing, that brought glory to God.

John 1:14, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."

We see Jesus making similar references to His glory being revealed by the miracles recorded in John ( John 2:11; John 9:3; John 11:4; John 11:40).

John 2:11, "This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him."

John 9:3, "Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him."

John 11:4, "When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."

John 11:40, "Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"

John 11:39-44Comments- The Servants at the Tomb of Lazarus- Sadhu Sundar Singh comments that when we serve the Lord, we learn that if we do what we can do, the Lord will complete the task. He gives the example of how there were servants at the tomb of Lazarus who rolled away the stone. However, they could not raise him from the dead. God completed the task. Then these same servants had the task of removing his grave clothes. Thus, in Christian service, there is a part that we must plan in order for God's purposes to be performed.

"Until a man brings into the service of God and man faculties and powers with which God has endowed him, he will not receive from God the help He alone can bestow. As soon as man does his part God will complete it. For instance, the removal of the stone from the grave of Lazarus was man's work, and it was not necessary for God to put forth His power to do that; but when the people had rolled away the stone, then God, that is Myself, did that which was beyond the power and skill of Prayer of Manasseh , for I gave life to the dead. Even after that there was work for man to do in releasing Lazarus from the grave-clothes that he might be perfectly free (John xi 39 ,41 ,44). So with regard to those who are dead in sin. It is the work of My disciples to roll away the gravestones of hindrance and difficulty, but to bestow life is My work. Often, too, some who have received spiritual life still remain in bondage to their old bad habits and evil associations, and it is the duty of My children to lead them into perfect freedom; and to render this great service they should ever be alert in heart and soul." 227]

227] Sadhu Sundar Singh, At the Master's Feet, translated by Arthur Parker (London: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1922) [on-line], accessed 26 October 2008, available from http://www.ccel.org/ccel/singh/feet.html; Internet, "IV Service," section 1, part 2.


Verses 45-54

The Plot to Kill Jesus ( Matthew 26:1-5, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-2) - John 11:45-54 tells us of how the plot to kill Jesus Christ intensifies after the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

John 11:45Comments- Within each of the six feast sections is found a miracle that testifies of Jesus' deity. We find six of these miracles ending with a statement that many believed in Him because of these miracles ( John 2:11, John 4:53, John 5:15, John 6:14, John 9:38, John 11:45). The seventh miracle ends with a similar statement ( John 20:29).

John 11:47Comments - The motif of the people believing in Jesus because of the miracles runs parallel with the motif of the Jewish leaders persecuting Jesus and plotting to kill Him. These two motifs are woven throughout the Gospel of John.

John 11:48Comments- Proverbs 10:24 says that the fear of the wicked shall come upon him.

Proverbs 10:24, "The fear of the wicked, it shall come upon him: but the desire of the righteous shall be granted."

The Jewish leaders feared the wrath of the Romans. Therefore, they slew the King of Kings, Jesus Christ. But this caused the very thing that they feared to come upon them. Forty years later, under Titus , the Romans surrounded the city of Jerusalem and destroyed it, killing an entire generation of Jews in the process.

John 11:51Comments- Note how prophecy operates in the office of the high priest, despite the fact that the heart of the priest was not right with God. In a similar manner to Caiaphas the high priest, King Saul prophesied although his heart was not always right with God ( 1 Samuel 10:10-11; 1 Samuel 18:10; 1 Samuel 19:23-24).

The gift of prophecy is often associated with the Old Testament prophets, priests, and kings. For example, the spirit of prophecy was taken from Moses and given to the seventy elders ( Numbers 11:24-25).

John 11:54 — "but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness" - Comments- John 11:54 reminds us of King David during his years of exile in similar desert regions around Palestine.

John 11:54 — "into a city called Ephraim" - Comments- Although the Old Testament frequently mentions the tribe of Ephraim, there is no reference to a city by this name. However, the city of Ephraim ( ἐφραΐμ) (G 2187) is mentioned one time in the New Testament ( John 11:54). Regarding its location, we must refer to extra-biblical literature. Comments made by Josephus seem to place Ephraim near Bethel when he says, "…after which he [Vespasian] took Bethel and Ephraim, two small cities…" (Wars 499) Eusebius lists a city by this name saying, "Aiphraim, a city of the lot of Issachar, and it is now called a village of Aphraia a distance of six miles north of Legeonos (Onomasticon "Ai φραιμ") (author's translation). 228]

228] Eusebii Pamphili Episcopi Caesariensis Onomasticon: Urbinum et Locorum Sacrae Scripturae, eds. F. Larsow and G. Parthey (Berolini: Aedibus Friderici Nicolae, 1862), 28.


Verse 55

The Seventh Miracle (Glorificatin): The Witness of the Old Testament Scriptures- The seventh miracle is the miracle of the Resurrection, found in John 11:55 to John 20:29, which offers God's children the resurrection and future glorification. This passage of Scripture serves as the strongest testimony of the deity of Jesus Christ. Embedded within this seventh miracle narrative are seven events of Christ's Passion that were predicted in the Old Testament Scriptures. Each of these events is supported by Old Testament quotations declaring their fulfillment.

John 11:55 to John 20:29 offers nine references as a testimony that Jesus fulfilled Old Testament Scriptures ( John 12:13; John 12:15; John 12:38; John 12:40; John 13:18, John 15:25, John 19:24; John 19:36-37). These nine references are structured with two pairs, so that there are seven distinct Old Testament Scripture witnesses to the Passion of Jesus Christ. Although the first eleven chapters of John also make two references to Old Testament fulfillment ( John 1:23, John 2:17), these two statements do not serve the same structural role as the seven testimonies given in the last section of miracles. Therefore, this passage places much emphasis on the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy as a testimony to the deity of Jesus. After the first Old Testament prophecy, the author of John explains the importance of recording these testimonies from the Old Testament to testify that His Passion was a fulfillment of Scripture ( John 12:16).

John 12:16, "These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him."

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Prologue to the Last Passover Feast — John 11:55-57

2. His Anointing at Bethany — John 12:1-11

3. His Triumphant Entry & Last Public Appearance — John 12:12-50

4. The Last Supper — John 13:1 to John 17:26

5. Jesus' Betrayal and Arrest — John 18:1-11

6. Jesus' Trials — John 18:12 to John 19:16 a

7. Jesus' Crucifixion & Burial — John 19:16 b-42

8. Jesus' Resurrection (The Seventh Miracle) — John 20:1-29


Verses 55-57

Prologue to the Last Passover - John 11:55-57 seems to be a prologue, which sets up the circumstances surrounding the final Passover in which Jesus Christ will crucified. It tells us that many people were in Jerusalem the week prior to the Passover and they were talking about whether Jesus Christ would manifest Himself again. They people had been instructed by the hostile Jewish leaders, whom everyone feared, to report any sightings of him. This is the atmosphere that is set for Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. The people wanted their king to appear and the Jewish leaders wanted Him dead.

John 11:55Comments - The apostle John records three Passovers in his Gospel ( John 2:23; John 6:4; John 11:55), which tells us that the public ministry of Jesus Christ lasted around three years.

John 2:23, "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did."

John 6:4, "And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh."

John 11:55, "And the Jews" passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves."

 


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These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on John 11:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/john-11.html. 2013.

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