Berean Bible Study Notes

John 11:17-57

Something to think about.

In preparing this study, I started thinking about something. Would I live my life differently if I truly believed that Jesus was coming soon? One thing that came across in this study is the idea that it takes less faith to believe something to be true in the distant future. You can believe something to be true, but it has little effect on the here and now. It is more like a theological abstraction. Is Jesus' return a theological abstraction? To test myself, I asked, "What if Jesus came back this summer?" Would that scare me? Would I be ready? Would I want the way I've been living to be different?

All of our churches (I believe) teach that Jesus could come at any time, which is absolutely biblical. But, deep in our hearts, do we really believe that? I honestly thought I did. But, when I asked myself, "If I thought Jesus was coming this summer, would I be living differently?" and, I realized, that as much as I've talked about it, my life doesn't entirely measure up to what I say I believe.

Some people, who become convinced of actual dates, quit their jobs and basically wait for the world to end. That's not biblical, however. Jesus said to "occupy until I come. (KJV)" and Paul said, If a man will not work, he shall not eat." On the other hand, we need to watch & wait, expectantly, eagerly - like the wise servant. It's something to think about. We know that Jesus could come at any time. If He came this year - would you wish you had been doing something differently?


John 11:17-57

Last time, we spent quite a bit of time on some background for John 11, and then just got started on the first part of the chapter. Briefly, some things from last time:

The name "Lazarus" means "whom God helps". What an interesting choice for Lazarus' parents to have made, given what happened to him. Did they know? Of course not - but God guided their decision anyway, so that every aspect of this situation would fit its intended purpose.

Lazarus is sick, deathly sick. Martha and Mary are afraid he's going to die, so they send a message to Jesus. Jesus gets the message and says, , "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it." He loves (agapao) Martha, Mary and Lazarus, yet he stayed where He was two more days. He is in complete control of the timing. He says to His disciples, "Let us go back to Judea," and they react with skeptism:

John 11:8 "But Rabbi," they said, "a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?"

It may very well be that they were in complete agreement with Jesus staying two more days where they were, because they thought He was continuing to be cautious of the Jews in Jerusalem. Now, Jesus is upsetting what they thought they had figured out. He reassures them, and goes on to say,

John 11:11 After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend [philos (fee'-los) - related to phileo (fil-eh'-o), brotherly love] Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up."

12 His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." 13 Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.

14 So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." (Notice how He still speaks of Lazarus in the present tense)

16 Then Thomas (called Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."

Now, isn't that interesting? He tells them that He is going to "wake" Lazarus. At first, they think He means to wake him out of natural sleep, but then He tells them plainly, "Lazarus is dead." So, now they know that Jesus' intention is to bring Lazarus back to life. Think about that! Think about the power that Jesus is declaring He has - and yet, Thomas is still worrying about the Jews and getting stoned. Seems kind of odd, doesn't it? Poor Thomas, always doubting.

John 11:17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

OK, Lazarus has been in the tomb for four days. It's about a day's journey between Bethany and Bethabara. It took one day for the messenger to get to Jesus. Then, He waited two days, and then probably traveled one day to get to Bethany. So, Lazarus must have died and was put in the tomb the same day the message went out, perhaps even immediately afterwards. There was apparently a large crowd now gathered in Bethany.

Now, why did Jesus arrange for it to be exactly four days? Of course, He waited just long enough for decay to be pronounced, but for the mourners to still be present. In fact, the fourth day was probably the day that there were the most mourners. There may be something symbolic, too. In the history of the world, when did Jesus appear to those who were "dead in trespasses and sins?" About 4,000 years after creation - the 4th day in that 1,000 year way of thinking. Or, another way of looking at it - how long had it been since death had reigned (the curse brought on by Adam's sin)? About 4,000 years. Here's more on that idea by Arthur W. Pink. And, another. We can only speculate, but it's an interesting coincidence.

Don't assume that Mary stayed home because she was upset with Jesus. Remember that it was the culture for women to come when called, speak when spoken to. Mary may simply have been following protocol, and Martha may not have been, by coming to meet Jesus before He got to their house.

It's another thing I find interesting. Jesus stayed where He was for two days, and when He comes, He's met part way there by a female believer. Are there hints of something else there? We won't know until Jesus tells us. Until then, we can only wonder.

John 11:21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."

23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."

24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."

25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

It sounds like she's rebuking Him, but she isn't. She knows that Lazarus died before the messenger even got to Jesus. She's simply saying, in faith, her belief that Lazarus wouldn't have died if Jesus was there - which is undoubtedly true. She goes on to say, maybe hesitantly, that she believes "God will give you whatever you ask." Is she asking for Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead? I think she is.

So, Jesus answers, "Your brother will rise again." Could it be? Oh, it's too much to hope for, so she gives Him the careful, theological answer: "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." And, certainly he will, as will we all. Just think - we will actually be able to meet Mary, Martha and Lazarus on that day. But, in giving the careful, theological answer, is Martha actually showing a lack of faith in what Jesus can do?

I'm asking that question, because I find myself doing the same thing so often. It's much easier to believe things that are far off in the distant future. It's easier to be the wise, mature person who knows that God often says "No" to our prayers - or at the very least, "Not yet." So, we don't ask for too much - we don't expect too much, so that we won't have the disappointment.

You know what's much harder? It's much harder to have the eager, expectant faith of a child. It's hard to have a living, breathing trust that believes in miracles in the here and now. No, I'm not advocating "miracle night" as the local Assembly of God used to have. I just want to avoid this:

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.

And have this:

Matthew 21:21 Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."

1 John 5:14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him.

I don't want to be a "secret doubter," and hide my doubt behind careful answers. It's a personal struggle at the moment - to regain that eager, expectant faith of a child.

Flipping through my commentaries, it seems like others might have had the same thoughts. Here is what J. Vernon McGee says (McGee, J. Vernon. Thru the Bible Commentary Series: John. Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1991):

Anyway, moving on. Jesus answers with the fifth of the seven "I AM" statements in the Gospel of John:

1. I am the bread of life. John 6:48

2. I am the light of the world. John 8:12

3. I am the door. John 10:9

4. I am the good shepherd. John 10:11

5. I am the resurrection and the life. John 11:25

6. I am the way, and the truth, and the life. John 14:6

7. I am the true vine. John 15:1

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

I would minimize it by trying to explain it - and I'm not sure I can, anyway. Oh, sure, superficially, I can. To believe in Jesus and who He is - and what He did - is all I need to be part of the resurrection to eternal life. And, yet, I know that I don't know all He's saying there. I don't think Martha understood it all, either, but she answered with what she did know, what she was utterly convinced of:

John 11:27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

John 11:28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."

When did Jesus even mention Mary? Did they have more conversation that John just didn't record? The Greek isn't really "asking," but more "calling." The word is phoneo (fo-neh'-o), like where we get our word "phone" from. Martha is telling Mary that Jesus has something to say that is more her calling than Martha's. Martha doesn't understand, but perhaps Mary will. She's the one who has been sitting at the feet of Jesus whenever He came. The King James says Martha called her sister secretly. Remember, the place was packed, and perhaps, many of them were not all that friendly to Jesus. However, God wants an audience, and Martha is overruled. Mary comes quickly, weeping. The Jews in the house follow her, also weeping. The Greek for their weeping is : klaio {klah'-yo. It means to wail and lament, loudly. Jesus is still outside the village, at the place where Martha had met Him. The possible symbolism is interesting, but it would take too long to explain, and even if I did, it would still only be speculation.

Mary, like Martha, says, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Jesus, for a little while, was limited by His human nature. In His human body, He couldn't be everywhere at once. That's why He says later,

John 16:7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.

When Mary says, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died, I really do think that it's a simple statement of faith. I don't think she stayed at the house because she was upset with Him, and I don't think she's rebuking Him now (she knows the message didn't get to Him in time). I don't know for sure, though, because how Jesus reacts is not what I'd expect:

John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Now, when Jesus sees Mary and the Jews weeping, it says He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. I always thought that meant that He was sad, but the Greek literally means "to snort like a horse," implying anger and indignation, or simply to "snort in anger." Jesus wasn't sad so much as He was angry. Some commentators say that He was angry because of the unbelief of Mary and the Jews. Others say that He was angry at death itself, and the terrible trials it has brought us since Adam's sin. Death is the enemy of Jesus:

1 Corinthians 1:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Isaiah 25:7 On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; 8 he will swallow up death forever.

Hosea 13:14 "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?

It is ultimately the devil, Satan who is His enemy, because he holds the power of death:

Hebrews 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death - that is, the devil - 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Perhaps He longs for that day when death is no longer an enemy, when He can wipe away the tears of every believer:

Revelation 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

The people don't seem to react as though Jesus was angry with them:

John 11:34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked.

"Come and see, Lord," they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"

37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"

"Where have you laid him?" Jesus asks, and they show Him, and then Jesus weeps. There was another time when Jesus wept (although, chronologically, it's still in the future of this incident). Do you remember it?

Luke 19:41 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it 42 and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace - but now it is hidden from your eyes.

The weeping that Jesus does at Lazarus' tomb is quiet and profound. He is not wailing in despair, but He is showing the emotion that He feels. He is angry. He is deeply troubled in His spirit, and now, yes, He is sad.

John 11:38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance.

This is a picture of Lazarus' actual tomb in Bethany

Church and Tomb of Lazarus, Bethany, Jerusalem

More Tomb of Lazarus pictures

John 11:39 "Take away the stone," he said.

"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."

Or, as the King James puts it, by this time he stinketh. Isn't that a great way of putting it? Martha cannot help being Martha. She wants her miracle, but she can't help worrying about what people will think about the odor. It's kind of like you might feel if you knew you'd see a miracle, but first you have to open the garbage can where you threw the raw hamburger four days ago, and it's been 90 degrees every day.

There is also an element of "Can even you do something about this? He's been dead four days and he's ROTTING now."

John 11:40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"

He had to name Lazarus, otherwise all the dead would come out. Remember this verse:

John 5:28 "Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29 and come out - those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned.

John 11:44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."

I'm putting a couple pictures in this study so that you can kind of visualize this better.

There is another place in John that talks about this:

John 19:40 Taking Jesus' body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.

Basically, the dead person is wrapped up. Lazarus would have to have hopped out of the tomb. Here is one explanation, from here:

I went to a conference where Gayle Erwin spoke a few years ago. He made some interesting points about this whole scene. I wish I could tell it like he did. If you ever get a chance to see Gayle Erwin in person, try to go. He tells really serious things in such a funny way that you're practically rolling on the floor. Anyway, he asked us to pay attention to what Jesus did Himself for Lazarus, and what others did. The first thing Jesus asked was to roll away the stone and reveal the stink. Jesus asked others to do that.

When you're sharing the Gospel with someone, you need to reveal the stink in their lives. Gently, lovingly, you need to point out exactly why that person needs a savior. You need to point out his or her sin. Sometimes, it might be a fellow believer that has fallen into sin. With all the love in your heart, you need to reveal her "stink." Many years ago, a friend needed me to do that, and I didn't. I should have told her that what she was doing was wrong, but instead, I said nothing. I guess I thought a friend should be supportive, regardless, but now, I realize that you can't stay quiet when someone you care about is headed down the wrong path. Fortunately, God turned her back another way, but to this day, I feel like I failed her. I should have revealed her "stink."

Here's something from Jon Courson (Courson, J. 2003. Jon Courson's Application Commentary . Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN):

What happens next? Jesus calls Lazarus to life. Only He can do that. We can share the Gospel with people, we can point out their sin, but only Jesus can call them to life. Only He knows when the time is right. It's not our job to make someone respond. That belongs to the Lord and the Lord alone. The Gospel is effective, but only God knows the full situation in the person's life. It might not be the right time. So, we can point out sin, share the Gospel - and leave the "calling to life" in God's hands. Of course, you can pray! Never stop praying!

What's next? Jesus says, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." Jesus leaves that part in the hands of others. Lazarus probably came hopping out in response to the call to life (Do you suppose some people choose to stay in their spiritual "tomb" rather than "come forth" at the Holy Spirit's call?), and there he was, alive, but totally encumbered with his grave clothes.

Could Lazarus have loosed himself? Does that have application for us? When someone becomes a Christian, do we have a responsibility to help her get free of her "grave clothes?" That's one reason for this verse:

Hebrews 10:25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one anotherand all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Do we see the "Day" approaching? You'd have to be blind not to, right? So, how do we encourage one another? We spend time together, we teach each other, we admonish when necessary and we love each other. A new Christian may not know what the Bible teaches about things. She needs help to put off the trappings of the world that she's accustomed to. Paul spends most of three chapters in Ephesians, helping remove "grave clothes" for those in Ephesus (and all the others who will read his letter - including us) This is long, but see what he says (NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society):

Ephesians 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles , some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. 18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. 19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

20 You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. 21 Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body. 26 "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold. 28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Ephesians 5:1 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

3 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.

8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9(for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

"Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."

15 Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. 18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Chapter 6 continues in this same way. Notice how the "Day" comes into this, too - and it does even more in Chapter 6. As the Ephesians read this letter to each other, and copied it and sent it to other groups of believers, they were helping to "remove grave clothes." Can you picture them, talking about it, explaining it? Perhaps a woman sat quietly, listening, but not speaking, head down, ashamed. Next to her, her friend listens too, and knows what is going on in the heart next to her. So, afterwards, she goes to her and listens, and comforts and says, "Jesus died for those sins, too. You're clean, now, forgiven. I'll help you learn a better way." And, so another tangled grave strip was unwound.

Another Jon Courson comment (Courson, J. 2003. Jon Courson's Application Commentary . Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN):

I'm going to switch to the New King James Version for the rest, here, because my Bible software has those nice, little subtitles that show where else you can find the same story.

John 11:45 (NKJV) The Plot to Kill Jesus

Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.

So, many of the Jews who had come along with Mary and seen this, Jesus' greatest miracle, believed in Him. He had arranged the whole thing so that there would be a crowd present. And, yet, some - who had seen the miracle! - went and "tattled" on Jesus to the Pharisees.

John 11:47 (NKJV) Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."

The Victory

The chief priests and Pharisees did not believe in Jesus, but if the people did, they thought there would be an uprising that the Romans would quickly put down. Their fears were justified, as that was the way the Romans worked. The Romans considered the Jews a stubborn, rebellious people. In 70 AD, they did destroy Jerusalem and the Temple, and in 135 AD, Emperor Hadrian leveled the ruins and plowed the land with salt, to make it uninhabitable.

John 11:49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish." 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

From Nelson's Bible Dictionary (NELSON'S ILLUSTRATED BIBLE DICTIONARY. 1986. Thomas Nelson Publishers):

Just as Balaam was against God's people yet able to give an accurate prophecy, so Caiaphas gave an accurate prophecy. It would be interesting to study how God works through and because of leaders sometime. You can see in 1st and 2nd Kings how He would sometimes judge Israel based on the actions of the king.

John 11:53 Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death. 54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.

From Fausset's Bible Dictionary:

Matthew 26:3 Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. 5 But they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people."

There had been talk of putting Jesus to death before, and even spontaneous attempts to stone Him. Now, it's more of a direct thing. Here's kind of an example. President Bush has many advisors telling him what to do about Iraq. One says, "we could do this" and another says, "we could do that." That's kind of what the "plotting" was previously - talk of how it might happen. But, if President Bush signs an executive order to put something specific into motion, now it's gone beyond talk. The high priest (a member of the Sadducees, by the way) has now put a specific action into effect: Jesus must be put to death. You can see by the passage in Matthew that they were going to do it however they had to, which meant by trickery.

John 11:55 (NKJV) And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, "What do you think — that He will not come to the feast?" 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.

We don't know exactly when the raising of Lazarus happened on the calendar. It was sometime between the Feast of Dedication and Passover - probably more towards the Passover end. Now, John fast forwards slightly until just before Passover. Remember, Passover was one of the three Feasts when every able-bodied male over the age of 20 was required to go to Jerusalem, to the Temple. It's a very important Feast to the Jews. Many will come early, so that if they accidentally defiled themselves on the journey, they would have time to purify themselves. Only those people who were "clean" could take part in the Feast. You could become defiled by touching a grave (that's why sepulchers were whitewashed at Passover, so that people would see where they were), by having a running sore, by having sex, etc. etc. Many, many things could cause you to be unclean. There was a provision for those who couldn't avoid it (your relative dies the day before Passover, for example); they could celebrate Passover the second month. But, that was no fun, so people came early, just in case.

So, the people go to the Temple, stand around and talk. What's the most interesting subject? Jesus, of course. Is He going to come? No, there's an order to arrest Him, why would He come? But, it's the Law - He has to come! There's an old saying, that wherever there are two Jews, there are three opinions - so I'm sure this just got talked to death.

Next time, we'll finally get to John 12, which takes place six days before Passover. We're getting into the last week that Jesus is with us on earth.


Exposition of the Gospel of John - Arthur W. Pink

Gospel of John - J. Vernon McGee - audio

Many more Gospel of John Commentaries available - Just click the "L" next to John 1:1

People's Bible Commentary: John


The Berean Bible Study of the Gospel of John


Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. - Acts 17:11

© 2012 This study was written by Jacqui Komschlies and last updated 3/6/2012. If you have questions, comments, corrections or concerns, please write me.

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