John 11:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 11:3, NIV: "So the sisters sent word to Jesus, 'Lord, the one you love is sick.'"

John 11:3, ESV: "So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”"

John 11:3, KJV: "Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick."

John 11:3, NASB: "So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, 'Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.'"

John 11:3, NLT: "So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, 'Lord, your dear friend is very sick.'"

John 11:3, CSB: "So the sisters sent a message to him: "Lord, the one you love is sick.""

What does John 11:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Mary and Martha are close followers of Jesus (Luke 10:38–42), though they do not travel with Him. They live in Bethany, which is only two miles—about three kilometers—from Jerusalem. This makes it extremely close to the religious leaders who are committed to having Jesus silenced. Presently, Jesus is in Bethabara, some twenty miles—about 32 kilometers—from the city. A fast-moving messenger could cover this distance in less than one day. This message provides some of the meager details about Jesus and Lazarus' relationship found in Scripture (John 11:5).

The content of this message echoes Jesus' mother when seeing the lack of wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–3). In both that instance, and this letter, no demands are made of Jesus. A need is stated, and nothing more. This speaks to both the faith and humility of Jesus' mother, as well as Lazarus' sisters.

Later verses will lay out a timeline that fully explains what is about to happen. As it turns out, Lazarus will already have died by the time Jesus receives this message. After waiting two days, and travelling for a third, Jesus will arrive when Lazarus has been dead for four days.

This timeline is also key to understanding Jesus reply, as seen in the following verse. At the moment this messenger speaks to Jesus in Bethabara, Lazarus has already died back in Bethany. Yet Jesus will send back reassurance, knowing the message will not get to Lazarus' family until well after they've seen their brother die. This, as with all of Jesus' actions, is done for a particular purpose.