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John Chapter Eleven


John 11

We come now to the testimony which the Father renders to Jesus in answer to His rejection. In this chapter the power of resurrection and of life in His own Person are presented to faith. [1] But here it is not simply that He is rejected: man is looked upon as dead, and Israel also. For it is man in the person of Lazarus. This family was blessed; it received the Lord into its bosom. Lazarus falls sick. All the Lord's human affections would be naturally concerned. Martha and Mary feel this; and they send Him word that he whom He loved was sick. But Jesus stays where He is. He might have said the word, as in the case of the centurion, and of the sick child at the beginning of this Gospel. But He did not. He had manifested His power and His goodness in healing man as he is found on earth, and delivering him from the enemy, and that in the midst of Israel. But this was not His object here-far from it-or the limits of what He was come to do. It was a question of bestowing life, or raising up again that which was dead before God. This was the real state of Israel; it was the state of man. Therefore He allows the condition of man under sin to go on and manifest itself in all the intensity of its effects down here, and permits the enemy to exercise his power to the end. Nothing remained but the judgment of God; and death, in itself, convicted man of sin while conducting him to judgment. The sick may be healed-there is no remedy for death. All is over for man, as man here below. Nothing remains but the judgment of God. It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. The Lord therefore does not heal in this instance. He allows the evil to go on to the end-to death. That was the true place of man. Lazarus once fallen asleep, He goes to awaken him. The disciples fear the Jews, and with reason. But the Lord, having waited for His Father's will, does not fear to accomplish it. It was day to Him.

In fact, whatever might be His love for the nation, He must needs let it die (indeed it was dead), and wait for the time appointed by God to raise it up again. If He must die Himself to accomplish it, He commits Himself to His Father.

But let us follow out the depths of this doctrine. Death has come in; it must take effect. Man is really in death before God; but God in grace comes in. Two things are presented in our history. He might have healed. The faith and hope of neither Martha, Mary, nor the Jews, went any farther. Only Martha acknowledges that, as the Messiah, favoured of God, He would obtain from Him whatsoever He asked. But He had not prevented the death of Lazarus. He had done so many times, even for strangers, for whosoever desired it. In the second place, Martha knew that her brother would rise again at the last day; but true as it was, this truth availed nothing. Who would answer for man, dead through judgment on sin? To rise again and appear before God was not an answer to death come in by sin. The two things were true. Christ had often delivered mortal man from his sufferings in flesh, and there shall be a resurrection at the last day. But these things were of no value in the presence of death. Christ was, however, there; and He is, thanks be to God! the resurrection and the life. Man being dead, resurrection comes first. But Jesus is the resurrection and the life in the present power of a divine life. And observe that life, coming by resurrection, delivers from all that death implies, and leaves it behind [2] sin, death, all that belongs to the life that man has lost. Christ, having died for our sins, has borne their punishment-has borne them. He has died. All the power of the enemy, all its effect on mortal man, all the judgment of God, He has borne it all, and has come up from it, in the power of a new life in resurrection, which is imparted to us; so that we are in spirit alive from among the dead, as He is alive from among the dead. Sin (as made sin, and bearing our sins in His own body on the tree), death, Satan's power, God's judgment, are all past through and left behind, and man is in a wholly new state, in incorruption. It will be true of us, if we die (for we shall not all die), as to the body, or, being changed, if we do not die. But in the communication of His life who is risen from the dead, God has quickened us with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses.

Jesus here manifested His own divine power to this effect; the Son of God was glorified in it, for we know He had not yet died for sin; but it was this same power in Him that was manifested. [3] The believer, even if he were dead, shall rise again; and the living who believe in Him shall not die. Christ has overcome death; the power for this was in His Person, and the Father bore Him witness of it. Are any that are His alive when the Lord exercises this power? They will never die-death exists no more in His presence. Have any died before He exercises it? They shall live-death cannot subsist before Him. All the effect of sin upon man is completely destroyed by resurrection, viewed as the power of life in Christ. This refers of course to the saints, to whom life is communicated. The same divine power is, of course, exercised as to the wicked; but it is not the communication of life from Christ, nor being raised with Him, as is evident. [4] Christ exercised this power in obedience and in dependence on His Father, because He was man, walking before God to do His will; but He is the resurrection and the life. He has brought the power of divine life into the midst of death; and death is annihilated by it, for in life death is no more. Death was the end of natural life to sinful man. Resurrection is the end of death, which has thus no longer anything in us. It is our advantage that, having done all it could do, it is finished. We live in the life [5] that put an end to it. We come out from all that could be connected with a life that no longer exists. What a deliverance! Christ is this power. He became this for us in its full display and exercise in His resurrection.

Martha, while loving Him and believing in Him, does not understand this; and she calls Mary, feeling that her sister would better understand the Lord. We will speak a little of these two presently. Mary, who waited for the Lord's own calling her to Him, modestly though sorrowfully leaving the initiative with Him, believing thus that the Lord had called her, goes to Him directly. Jews and Martha and Mary all had seen miracles and healings that had arrested the power of death. To this they all refer. But here life had passed away. What now could help? If He had been there, His love and power they could have counted on. Mary falls down at His feet weeping. On the point of resurrection power she understood no more than Martha; but her heart is melted under the sense of death in the presence of Him who had life. It is an expression of need and sorrow rather than a complaint that she utters. The Jews also weep: the power of death was on their hearts. Jesus enters into it in sympathy. He was troubled in spirit. He sighs before God, He weeps with man; but His tears turn into a groan, which was, though inarticulate, the weight of death, felt in sympathy, and presented to God by this groan of love which fully realised the truth; and that in love to those who were suffering the ill that His groan expressed.

He bore death before God in His spirit as the misery of man-the yoke from which man could not deliver himself, and He is heard. The need brings His power into action. It was not His part now patiently to explain to Martha what He was. He feels and acts upon the need to which Mary had given expression, her heart being opened by the grace that was in Him.

Man may sympathise: it is the expression of his powerlessness. Jesus enters into the affliction of mortal man, puts Himself under the burden of death that weighs upon man (and that more thoroughly than man himself can do), but He takes it away with its cause. He does more than take it away; He brings in the power that is able to take it away. This is the glory of God. When Christ is present, if we die, we do not die for death, but for life: we die that we may live in the life of God, instead of in the life of man. And wherefore? That the Son of God may be glorified. Death came in by sin; and man is under the power of death. But this has only given room for our possessing life according to the second Adam, the Son of God, and not according to the first Adam, the sinful man. This is grace. God is glorified in this work of grace, and it is the Son of God whose glory shines brightly forth in this divine work.

And, observe, that this is not grace offered in testimony, it is the exercise of the power of life. Corruption itself is no hindrance to God. Why did Christ come? To bring the words of eternal life to dead man. Now Mary fed upon those words. Martha served-cumbered her heart with many things. She believed, she loved Jesus, she received Him into her house: the Lord loved her. Mary listened to Him: this was what He came for; and He had justified her in it. The good part which she had chosen should not be taken from her.

When the Lord arrives, Martha goes of her own accord to meet Him. She withdraws when Jesus speaks to her of the present power of life. We are ill at ease when, although Christians, we feel unable to apprehend the meaning of the Lord's words, or of what His people say to us. Martha felt that this was rather Mary's part than hers. She goes away and calls her sister, saying, that the Master (He who taught-observe this name that she gives Him) was come, and called for her. It was her own conscience that was to her the voice of Christ. Mary instantly arises and comes to Him. She understood no more than Martha. Her heart pours out its need at the feet of Jesus, where she had heard His words and learnt His love and grace; and Jesus asks the way to the grave. To Martha, ever occupied with circumstances, her brother stank already.

Afterwards (Martha served, and Lazarus was present), Mary anoints the Lord, in the instinctive sense of what was going on; for they were consulting to put Him to death. Her heart, taught by love to the Lord, felt the enmity of the Jews; and her affection, stimulated by deep gratitude, expends on Him the most costly thing she had. Those present blame her; Jesus again takes her part. It might not be reasonable, but she had apprehended His position. What a lesson! What a blessed family was this at Bethany, in which the heart of Jesus found (as far as could be on earth) a relief that His love accepted! With what love have we to do! Alas, with what hatred! for we see in this Gospel the dreadful opposition between man and God.

There is an interesting point to be observed here before we pass on. The Holy Ghost has recorded an incident, in which the momentary but guilty unbelief of Thomas was covered by the Lord's grace. It was needful to relate it; but the Holy Ghost has taken care to shew us, that Thomas loved the Lord, and was ready, at heart, to die with Him. We have other instances of the same kind. Paul says, "Take Mark, and bring him with thee; for he is profitable to me for the ministry." Poor Mark! this was necessary on account of what took place at Perga. Barnabas also has the same place in the apostle's affection and remembrance. We are weak: God does not hide it from us; but He throws the testimony of His grace over the feeblest of His servants.

But to continue. Caiaphas, the chief of the Jews, as high priest, proposes the death of Jesus, because He had restored Lazarus to life. And from that day they conspire against Him. Jesus yields to it. He came to give His life a ransom for many. He goes on to fulfil the work His love had undertaken, in accordance with His Father's will, whatever might be the devices and the malice of men. The work of life and Or death, of Satan and of God, were face to face. But the counsels of God were being accomplished in grace, whatever the means might be. Jesus devotes Himself to the work by which they were to be fulfilled. Having shewn the power of resurrection and of life in Himself, He is again, when the time comes, quietly in the place to which His service led Him; but He no longer goes in the same manner as before into the temple. He goes thither indeed; but the question between God and man was morally settled already.


[1] It is very striking to see the Lord in the lowliness of obedient service, allowing evil to have its full way in man's failure (death) and Satan's power, till His Father's will called Him to meet it. Then no danger hinders, and then He is the resurrection and the life in personal presence and power, and then giving Himself-being such, up to death for us.

[2] Christ took human life in grace and sinless; and as alive in this life He took sin upon Him. Sin belongs, so to speak, to this life in which Christ knew no sin, but was made sin for us. But He dies-He quits this life. He is dead to sin; He has done with sin in having done with the life to which sin belonged, not in Him indeed but in us, and alive in which He was made sin for us.Raised up again by the power of God, He lives in a new condition, into which sin cannot enter, being left behind with the life that He left. Faith brings us into it by grace. It has been pretended that these thoughts affect the divine and eternal life which was in Christ. But this is all idle and evil cavil. Even in an unconverted sinner, dying or laying down life has nothing to do with ceasing to exist as to the life of the man within. All live to God, and divine life in Christ never could cease or be changed. He never laid that down, but in the power of that, laid down His life as He possessed it here as man, to take it up in an entirely new way in resurrection beyond the grave. The cavil is a very evil cavil. In this edition I have changed nothing in this note, but have added a few words in the hope that it may be clear to all. The doctrine itself is vital truth. In the text I have erased or altered a part for another reason, namely, that there was confusion between the divine power of life in Christ, and God's raising Him viewed as a dead man from the grave. Both are true and blessedly so, but they are different and were here confounded together. In Ephesians Christ as man is raised by God. In John it is the divine and quickening power in Himself.

[3] Resurrection has a double character: divine power, which He could exercise and did exercise as to Himself (chap. 2:19), and here as to Lazarus, both the proof of divine sonship; and the deliverance of a dead man from his state of death. Thus God raised Christ from the dead, so here Christ raises Lazarus. In Christ's resurrection both were united in His own Person. Here, of course, they were separate. But Christ has life in Himself and that in divine power. But He laid down His life in grace. We are quickened together with Him in Ephesians 2. But it seems avoided saying, He was quickened, when speaking of Him alone in chapter 1.

[4] The cavil I have referred to in the note to page 345 sanctions (most unwittingly, I gladly admit) the pestiferous doctrine of annihilation, as if laying down life, or death, that is the end of natural life, were ceasing to exist. I notice it, because this form of evil doctrine is one very current now. It subverts the whole substance of Christianity.

[5] Observe the sense which the apostle had of the power of this life, when he says, "That mortality might be swallowed up of life." Consider, in this point of view, the first five chapters of 2 Corinthians.

── John DarbySynopsis of John


John 11

Chapter Contents

The sickness of Lazarus. (1-6) Christ returns to Judea. (7-10) The death of Lazarus. (11-16) Christ arrives at Bethany. (17-32) He raises Lazarus. (33-46) The Pharisees consult against Jesus. (47-53) The Jews seek for him. (54-57)

Commentary on John 11:1-6

(Read John 11:1-6)

It is no new thing for those whom Christ loves, to be sick; bodily distempers correct the corruption, and try the graces of God's people. He came not to preserve his people from these afflictions, but to save them from their sins, and from the wrath to come; however, it behoves us to apply to Him in behalf of our friends and relatives when sick and afflicted. Let this reconcile us to the darkest dealings of Providence, that they are all for the glory of God: sickness, loss, disappointment, are so; and if God be glorified, we ought to be satisfied. Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. The families are greatly favoured in which love and peace abound; but those are most happy whom Jesus loves, and by whom he is beloved. Alas, that this should seldom be the case with every person, even in small families. God has gracious intentions, even when he seems to delay. When the work of deliverance, temporal or spiritual, public or personal, is delayed, it does but stay for the right time.

Commentary on John 11:7-10

(Read John 11:7-10)

Christ never brings his people into any danger but he goes with them in it. We are apt to think ourselves zealous for the Lord, when really we are only zealous for our wealth, credit, ease, and safety; we have therefore need to try our principles. But our day shall be lengthened out, till our work is done, and our testimony finished. A man has comfort and satisfaction while in the way of his duty, as set forth by the word of God, and determined by the providence of God. Christ, wherever he went, walked in the day; and so shall we, if we follow his steps. If a man walks in the way of his heart, and according to the course of this world, if he consults his own carnal reasonings more than the will and glory of God, he falls into temptations and snares. He stumbles, because there is no light in him; for light in us is to our moral actions, that which light about us to our natural actions.

Commentary on John 11:11-16

(Read John 11:11-16)

Since we are sure to rise again at the last, why should not the believing hope of that resurrection to eternal life, make it as easy for us to put off the body and die, as it is to put off our clothes and go to sleep? A true Christian, when he dies, does but sleep; he rests from the labours of the past day. Nay, herein death is better than sleep, that sleep is only a short rest, but death is the end of earthly cares and toils. The disciples thought that it was now needless for Christ to go to Lazarus, and expose himself and them. Thus we often hope that the good work we are called to do, will be done by some other hand, if there be peril in the doing of it. But when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, many were brought to believe on him; and there was much done to make perfect the faith of those that believed. Let us go to him; death cannot separate from the love of Christ, nor put us out of the reach of his call. Like Thomas, in difficult times Christians should encourage one another. The dying of the Lord Jesus should make us willing to die whenever God calls us.

Commentary on John 11:17-32

(Read John 11:17-32)

Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house. When God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith, hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus, Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an advantage to her, when it put her at Christ's feet to hear his word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her to melancholy. It is our wisdom to watch against the temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect, let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seemeth him good. To enlarge Martha's expectations, our Lord declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness; and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all evil for ever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ, about the great things of the other world, we should put it to ourselves, Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought. When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them, calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set themselves at Christ's feet to be taught by him, may with comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to find favour with him.

Commentary on John 11:33-46

(Read John 11:33-46)

Christ's tender sympathy with these afflicted friends, appeared by the troubles of his spirit. In all the afflictions of believers he is afflicted. His concern for them was shown by his kind inquiry after the remains of his deceased friend. Being found in fashion as a man, he acts in the way and manner of the sons of men. It was shown by his tears. He was a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Tears of compassion resemble those of Christ. But Christ never approved that sensibility of which many are proud, while they weep at mere tales of distress, but are hardened to real woe. He sets us an example to withdraw from scenes of giddy mirth, that we may comfort the afflicted. And we have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. It is a good step toward raising a soul to spiritual life, when the stone is taken away, when prejudices are removed, and got over, and way is made for the word to enter the heart. If we take Christ's word, and rely on his power and faithfulness, we shall see the glory of God, and be happy in the sight. Our Lord Jesus has taught us, by his own example, to call God Father, in prayer, and to draw nigh to him as children to a father, with humble reverence, yet with holy boldness. He openly made this address to God, with uplifted eyes and loud voice, that they might be convinced the Father had sent him as his beloved Son into the world. He could have raised Lazarus by the silent exertion of his power and will, and the unseen working of the Spirit of life; but he did it by a loud call. This was a figure of the gospel call, by which dead souls are brought out of the grave of sin: and of the sound of the archangel's trumpet at the last day, with which all that sleep in the dust shall be awakened, and summoned before the great tribunal. The grave of sin and this world, is no place for those whom Christ has quickened; they must come forth. Lazarus was thoroughly revived, and returned not only to life, but to health. The sinner cannot quicken his own soul, but he is to use the means of grace; the believer cannot sanctify himself, but he is to lay aside every weight and hinderance. We cannot convert our relatives and friends, but we should instruct, warn, and invite them.

Commentary on John 11:47-53

(Read John 11:47-53)

There can hardly be a more clear discovery of the madness that is in man's heart, and of its desperate enmity against God, than what is here recorded. Words of prophecy in the mouth, are not clear evidence of a principle of grace in the heart. The calamity we seek to escape by sin, we take the most effectual course to bring upon our own heads; as those do who think by opposing Christ's kingdom, to advance their own worldly interest. The fear of the wicked shall come upon them. The conversion of souls is the gathering of them to Christ as their ruler and refuge; and he died to effect this. By dying he purchased them to himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost for them: his love in dying for believers should unite them closely together.

Commentary on John 11:54-57

(Read John 11:54-57)

Before our gospel passover we must renew our repentance. Thus by a voluntary purification, and by religious exercises, many, more devout than their neighbours, spent some time before the passover at Jerusalem. When we expect to meet God, we must solemnly prepare. No devices of man can alter the purposes of God: and while hypocrites amuse themselves with forms and disputes, and worldly men pursue their own plans, Jesus still orders all things for his own glory and the salvation of his people.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on John


John 11

Verse 2

[2] (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

It was that Mary who afterward anointed, etc. She was more known than her elder sister Martha, and as such is named before her.

Verse 4

[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.

This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God — The event of this sickness will not be death, in the usual sense of the word, a final separation of his soul and body; but a manifestation of the glorious power of God.

Verse 7

[7] Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

Let us go into Judea — From the country east of Jordan, whither he had retired some time before, when the Jews sought to stone him, John 10:39,40.

Verse 9

[9] Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

Are there not twelve hours in the day? — The Jews always divided the space from sunrise to sunset, were the days longer or shorter, into twelve parts: so that the hours of their day were all the year the same in number, though much shorter in winter than in summer.

If any man walk in the day he stumbleth not — As if he had said, So there is such a space, a determined time, which God has allotted me. During that time I stumble not, amidst all the snares that are laid for me.

Because he seeth the light of this world — And so I see the light of God surrounding me.

Verse 10

[10] But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

But if a man walk in the night — If he have not light from God; if his providence does no longer protect him.

Verse 11

[11] These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

Our friend Lazarus sleepeth — This he spoke, just when he died.

Sleepeth — Such is the death of good men in the language of heaven. But the disciples did not yet understand this language. And the slowness of our understanding makes the Scripture often descend to our barbarous manner of speaking.

Verse 16

[16] Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Thomas in Hebrew, as Didymus in Greek, signifies a twin.

With him — With Jesus, whom he supposed the Jews would kill. It seems to be the language of despair.

Verse 20

[20] Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Mary sat in the house — Probably not hearing what was said.

Verse 22

[22] But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Whatsoever thou wilt ask, God will give it thee — So that she already believed he could raise him from the dead.

Verse 25

[25] Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

l am the resurrection — Of the dead.

And the life — Of the living.

He that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live — In life everlasting.

Verse 32

[32] Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

She fell at his feet — This Martha had not done. So she makes amends for her slowness in coming.

Verse 33

[33] When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

He groaned — So he restrained his tears. So he stopped them soon after, John 11:38.

He troubled himself — An expression amazingly elegant, and full of the highest propriety. For the affections of Jesus were not properly passions, but voluntary emotions, which were wholly in his own power. And this tender trouble which he now voluntarily sustained, was full of the highest order and reason.

Verse 35

[35] Jesus wept.

Jesus wept — Out of sympathy with those who were in tears all around him, as well as from a deep sense of the misery sin had brought upon human nature.

Verse 37

[37] And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

Could not this person have even caused, that this man should not have died? — Yet they never dreamed that he could raise him again! What a strange mixture of faith and unbelief.

Verse 38

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

It was a cave — So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives, except Rachel, were buried in the cave of Machpelah, Genesis 49:29-31. These caves were commonly in rocks, which abounded in that country, either hollowed by nature or hewn by art. And the entrance was shut up with a great stone, which sometimes had a monumental inscription.

Verse 39

[39] Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

Lord, by this time he stinketh — Thus did reason and faith struggle together.

Verse 40

[40] Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

Said I not — It appears by this, that Christ had said more to Martha than is before recorded.

Verse 41

[41] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

Jesus lifted up his eyes — Not as if he applied to his Father for assistance. There is not the least show of this. He wrought the miracle with an air of absolute sovereignty, as the Lord of life and death. But it was as if he had said, I thank thee, that by the disposal of thy providence, thou hast granted my desire, in this remarkable opportunity of exerting my power, and showing forth thy praise.

Verse 43

[43] And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

He cried with a loud voice — That all who were present might hear.

Lazarus, come forth — Jesus called him out of the tomb as easily as if he had been not only alive, but awake also.

Verse 44

[44] And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

And he came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes — Which were wrapt round each hand and each foot, and his face was wrapt about with a napkin - If the Jews buried as the Egyptians did, the face was not covered with it, but it only went round the forehead, and under the chin; so that he might easily see his way.

Verse 45

[45] Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

Many believed on Him — And so the Son of God was glorified, according to what our Lord had said, John 11:4.

Verse 46

[46] But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

But some of them went to the Pharisees — What a dreadful confirmation of that weighty truth, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead!

Verse 47

[47] Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

What do we? — What? Believe. Yea, but death yields to the power of Christ sooner than infidelity.

Verse 48

[48] If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

All men will believe — And receive him as the Messiah. And this will give such umbrage to the Romans that they will come and subvert both our place - Temple; and nation - Both our Church and state. Were they really afraid of this? Or was it a fair colour only? Certainly it was no more. For they could not but know, that he that raised the dead was able to conquer the Romans.

Verse 49

[49] And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

That year — That memorable year, in which Christ was to die. It was the last and chief of Daniel's seventy weeks, the fortieth year before the destruction of Jerusalem, and was celebrated for various causes, in the Jewish history. Therefore that year is so peculiarly mentioned: Caiaphas was the high priest both before and after it.

Ye know nothing — He reproves their slow deliberations in so clear a case.

Verse 50

[50] Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

It is expedient that one man should die for the people — So God overruled his tongue, for he spake not of himself, by his own spirit only, but by the spirit of prophecy. And thus he gave unawares as clear a testimony to the priestly, as Pilate did to the kingly office of Christ.

Verse 52

[52] And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

But that, he might gather into one — Church, all the children of God that were scattered abroad - Through all ages and nations.

Verse 55

[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.

Many went up to purify themselves — That they might remove all hinderances to their eating the passover.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on John


Chapter 11. The Risen Lazarus

The Work of God: Foreman
Fellowship with God: Worker

I. The Family at Bethany

  1. Lazarus Is Sick
  2. Martha Grumbles
  3. Mary Falls Down at His Feet

II. Three Kinds of Weeping

  1. Weep for the Dead
  2. Weep for the Living
  3. Jesus Weeps

III. The Rising of Lazarus

  1. Call with a Loud Voice
  2. The Dead Man Comes out
  3. Loose Him and Let Go
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament



There is no Gospel which brings out, in such a striking manner the humanity of Christ, as the one which presents in such a remarkable way the Deity of Jesus, namely, the Gospel according to John; and chapter 11. is an illustration of this fact. This may be gathered if the name “ Jesus” is pondered over. It occurs no less than twenty-four times.

The Attention of Jesus (verse 4).

The Love of Jesus (verse 5).

The Response of Jesus (verse 9).

The Word of Jesus (verse 13).

The Plainness of Jesus (verse 14).

The Coming of Jesus (verse 17).

The Approach of Jesus (verse 20).

The Lordship of Jesus (verse 21).

The Encouragement of Jesus (verse 23).

The Unfolding of Jesus (verse 25).

The Tarrying of Jesus (verse 30).

The Person of Jesus (verse 32).

The Eyes of Jesus (verse 33).

The Sympathy of Jesus (verse 35).

The Groaning of Jesus (verse 38).

The Command of Jesus (verse 39).

The Reminder of Jesus (verse 40).

The Faith of Jesus (verse 41).

The Direction of Jesus (verse 44).

The Work of Jesus (verse 45).

The Testimony about Jesus (verse 46).

The Atonement of Jesus (verse 51).

The Retirement of Jesus (verse 54).

The Hunting of Jesus (verse 56).

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings



Ⅰ. The Sympathy of JesusJohn 11:35. We might call this verse “Jesus wept,” the shortest verse in the Bible with the greatest meaning. The heart of Jesus ever beats in sympathy with the need of humanity, as His hand is ever ready to meet the need He sees. Mr. Spurgeon has well called this verse “ a unique verse,” He sees. “ I have often felt vexed with the man, whoever he was, who chopped up the New Testament into verses. He seems to have let the hatchet drop indiscriminately here and there, but I forgive him a great deal of blundering for his wisdom in letting these two words make a verse for themselves, “ Jesus wept.” This is a diamond of the first water, and it cannot have another gem set with it, for it is unique. Shortest of verses in words, but were is there a longer one in sense? Let it stand in solitary sublimity and simplicity.”

Three times we read of Jesus weeping. He wept tears of personal suffering (Heb.5:7), tears of compassion (Luke 19:41), and here tears of sympathy.

Ⅱ. The Command of Jesus (verse 39). There was a work which those who were standing by the grave had to do, before Christ spoke the life-giving word that raised Lazarus from the dead, and that was to remove the stone which lay at the tomb’s mouth. There are many stones that believers can roll away which keep the unsaved from hearing Christ’s voice. Here are some stones to roll away:--

The rocky stone of ignorance.

The granite stone of unbelief.

The slaty stone of error.

The lime-stone of prejudice.

The hard stone of doubt.

The slippery stone of inconsistency.

The dazzling stone of fear.

Ⅲ. The power of Jesus (verse 41-44). Disease, devils, and death had all to submit to Christ. The miracles of Christ in His earthly life are but illustrations of what He can do now in resurrection power by the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel. Those who are dead in ceremonialism. (Rev.3:1) He can quicken; those who are buried in the pleasures of the world (1. Tim.5:6) He can raise to delight in the pleasures that last for evermore (Psalm 16:11); those who are devoid of spiritual life and love, like the prodigal in the far country (Luke 15:24), He can robe and rejoice (Luke 15:22,23); and those who, like the Ephesians, are ruled by the powers of darkness( Eph.2:1-3; Acts 19:19) He can raise to the heavenly places (Eph.2:6), and make them fight against the powers that once held them in their grip (Eph.6:12).

── F.E. MarshFive Hundred Bible Readings