John 11 Bible Study

John chapter 11 Bible study & commentary

John 11 Bible Study and Commentary


John 11:11-24 Lazarus
John 11:25-34 I Am the Resurrection and the Life
John 11:35-42 Jesus Wept
John 11:43-57 Lazarus, Come Forth!
John 11 Bible Study Questions (Handout)
JOHN 11:1-2  1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.

Who are "Lazarus," "Mary" and "Martha" (John 11:1)?
Lazarus is the "brother" of "Mary" (John 11:2), whose "sister" is "Martha" (John 11:1), so the three were siblings.

When did Mary anoint Jesus "with fragrant oil" and wipe "His feet with her hair" (John 11:2)?
Just before He headed to Jerusalem for the Passover at which He was crucified. John recounts this anointing in the next chapter (see Spikenard).

If John recounts it in the next chapter, why is he mentioning it here and in the past tense: "anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair" (John 11:2)?
He is identifying this Mary by briefly mentioning what she did to distinguish her from the other women named Mary (see Jesus and Mary Magdalene and His mother) in this gospel, which when penned, everything recorded was in the past.

JOHN 11:3  3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

Why be so cryptic instead of precisely saying, "Lord, Lazarus is sick"?
Two days' journey away from Jerusalem (see below), Jesus' disciples knew and were concerned about the Jews trying to arrest and "stone" (John 11:8 below) Jesus. Mary and Martha were much closer to Jerusalem (see below), so they probably also knew and were concerned about it. If so, the sisters may have felt that a more precise message, if intercepted, risked revealing Jesus' destination to the Jews, who could wait for and arrest Jesus en route.

JOHN 11:4  4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Where was Jesus when He received Mary and Martha's message?
Most likely in Bethabara on the other side of the Jordan river, where He had gone at the end of John chapter 10 when the Jews tried to "seize" (John 10:39, see I and My Father are one) Him.

What was He doing there?
No doubt continuing to teach and heal people, but also waiting for the Passover, at which He would lay down His life on the cross, which was now fast approaching.

Why does Jesus say, "This sickness is not unto death" (John 11:4) and then let Lazarus die (see below)?
To us, death is permanent. But to Him who can and will raise the dead to life, Lazarus' death will be "for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4).

JOHN 11:5-7  5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

Why did Jesus stay "two more days" (John 11:6) before leaving for Lazarus, who was sick, especially since He "loved" (John 11:5) him?
See below.

JOHN 11:8-10  8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

What does Jesus mean by John 11:9-10?
He is reminding them of and elaborating on what He told them earlier - “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:4-5, see I Must Work the Works of Him) - to let them know that while the "night" is approaching, it was still "day," He still had "work" to do, and they still had "the light of this/the world," so they were to continue to walk after Him.