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John 11:11

ESV After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”
NIV After he had said this, he went on to tell them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.'
NASB This He said, and after this He *said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going so that I may awaken him from sleep.'
CSB He said this, and then he told them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I'm on my way to wake him up."
NLT Then he said, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.'
KJV 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.

What does John 11:11 mean?

Jesus responded to an urgent message about Lazarus, sick in Bethany, by sending a comforting reply and waiting in Bethabara for two days (John 11:1–6). His disciples assumed this meant Jesus had no intention of going back towards Jerusalem, where religious leaders were waiting to pounce (John 5:18; 10:39). As it turns out, Jesus was only waiting in order to ensure that His upcoming miracle would be unmistakable. When He announces their return, the disciples are shocked and afraid (John 11:7–8). Jesus then responds by reminding them that God is in control; walking according to His knowledge—His light—is always the wisest course of action (John 11:8–9).

Here, Jesus adds another statement which would have been confusing to the disciples, at first. Sleep is often used in Christian contexts as a metaphor for physical death (Acts 7:60; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18). Those who have faith in God see death of the body as a temporary, peaceful condition. Jesus' intent, right from the beginning, has been to raise Lazarus from the dead as another proof of His divine power.

In this context, though, the disciples would have been even more confused over Jesus' intent. After all, Jesus has waited two days, already. Now He speaks of waking up a sleeping friend. From their perspective, that is not something worth the risk of moving back into hostile territory. Their reactions, shown in the following verses, will be pessimistic, but also somewhat brave.

Jesus' plan here summarizes the general plot of the gospel: God incarnate travels into hostile, unbelieving territory to make a dead man live!
What is the Gospel?
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