John 11 – Jesus Raises Lazarus

When Jesus receives word that Lazarus is ill, he obviously knows that he is going to die.  So some Bible versions are confusing in verse 4.  The New American Standard has the best translation – “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”  Verse 6 may mean that Jesus wanted to give the sisters time to mourn after the death of their brother before He arrived to raise him – all the more effective when the Lord’s power over death is demonstrated.  Verses 9-10 are difficult to understand.  The most likely meaning is that since He is the light of the world, those who seek to kill Him will not be able to do so until his “day” – His time among them – is over.  His disciples do not understand in verse 11 when He says “Lazarus has fallen asleep,” so He tells them plainly in verse 14 that he has died, and that He is glad for their sakes, so that they will believe. Their witness of Him raising Lazarus will be a powerful memory for them.

The site that is almost certainly Bethany of John 11 – about two miles east of Jerusalem, on the east slope of the Mount of Olives. Jesus often visited his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus here. Jesus raised Lazarus after four days, one of the greatest of his miracles. The modern village, called Azariyeh, el-Azariyeh, Lazariyeh, or el-Lazariyeh to honor Lazarus, has about 1,000 people and is near the ancient village. The tower of the New Church of St. Lazarus rises next to the ruins of Christian churches from the Crusader period, about 1100-1300 A.D.

After He raised Lazarus, the Jews that did not want to believe that He was the Christ went to the Pharisees to tell them what had happened.  Their concern about people believing in Jesus as the Messiah was based on the same misguided expectation that the coming of the Messiah would mean he would be a powerful political and military leader.  A Messiah that would lead believers in a revolt against Roman rule would result in the coming of the Romans to crush it and remove the leaders (and thus, the Sanhedrin itself) from any position of power.  Caiaphas, the high priest of that time (about 18 – 36 AD), proposed that killing Jesus would be best for them all (verse 50).  His prophecy in the following verses was unknowingly very foretelling of His resurrection and its effect on God’s people.

Jesus did not walk freely among the Jews after that (verse 54); and in verse 56, many were wondering if He would come to the Passover feast at all.  Of course He would – He always followed God’s commandments.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.


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