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John chapter 11

English Standard Version

New International Version

New American Standard Bible

1Now a certain man was sick: Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2And it was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, 'Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.' 4But when Jesus heard this, He said, 'This sickness is not meant for death, but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.' 5(Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.) 6So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7Then after this He *said to the disciples, 'Let’s go to Judea again.' 8The disciples *said to Him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and yet You are going there again?' 9Jesus replied, 'Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks during the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks during the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.' 11This 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.' 12The disciples then said to Him, 'Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will come out of it.' 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about actual sleep. 14So Jesus then said to them plainly, 'Lazarus died, 15and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let’s go to him.' 16Therefore Thomas, who was called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let’s also go, so that we may die with Him!'
Christian Standard Bible

New Living Translation

King James Version

1Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11These 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. 12Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
17Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
45Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. 55And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

What does John chapter 11 mean?

This passage contains one of the most famous stories of the Bible: the resurrection of Lazarus. Scripture gives few details about the relationship between Jesus and the three siblings: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. We know that Jesus spent some time in their home (Luke 10:38–42), was greatly honored by Mary (Mark 14:3–9), considered a teacher by the two sisters (John 11:28), and that His love of the family was well-known (John 11:36). Despite that closeness, this narrative opens with Jesus some distance away, avoiding the hostile religious leaders of Jerusalem (John 10:39–40).

When Lazarus falls ill, the sisters send word to Jesus. Their hope is probably that Jesus would return immediately and heal their brother before he succumbs. On a first reading, Jesus' reply seems encouraging. However, He has a plan in mind that's not so simple. Looking at the timeline involved, it's clear this message gets to Jesus after Lazarus is already dead: with a two-day delay, Jesus will arrive four days after Lazarus' burial. That makes these words, which would have gotten back to Mary and Martha after their brother died, initially seem absurd (John 11:1–4).

Jesus has a purpose building for this incident. He has even hinted at this moment in His prior arguments with religious critics (John 5:28). He knows, well in advance, that a resurrection is at hand. The response of Jesus to Lazarus' illness is meant, in part, to help us understand how God views our circumstances. That view is often much, much different than ours. The disciples can't understand why Jesus would go back into hostile territory. They don't understand the point of trying to "wake up" a dead man. God, however, knows exactly what He's doing. The disciples are typically confused, but they also demonstrate their loyalty. Even if he's gloomy, Thomas shows resolve to follow Jesus anywhere and everywhere (John 11:5–16).

By the time Jesus makes it back to Bethany, there is absolutely no doubt that Lazarus is dead. The first person Jesus encounters in Bethany is Martha. She apparently sneaks away from the many mourners and can see Jesus with some level of privacy. This suits the practical, no-nonsense attitude she shows in other Scriptures. Her statement expresses more faith than criticism; she is not complaining, but she is mourning. Jesus further tests her beliefs, resulting in her beautiful expression of trusting reliance on God, and in Christ (John 11:17–27).

In contrast to Martha, Scripture implies that Mary is more emotional and impulsive. When she hears that Jesus has arrived, she makes a rapid and dramatic exit. This inspires curiosity in the mourners, who follow her and form the crowd who later witness the miracle. Mary echoes Martha's comment that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus' death (John 11:28–34).

Here, Jesus demonstrates great compassion and quietly weeps with Mary and Martha. This moment is crucial in our understanding of the nature of God. Jesus has purposefully arranged this situation in order to make a clear point. This miracle is another "sign" of His divine nature. Moments from now, Jesus will bring Lazarus back from the dead. And yet, He expresses clear emotion out of love for His friends. This is a milestone moment in the Bible, reminding us that God really, truly understands the pain we feel while we wait to see His plans unfold (John 11:35–37).

The raising of Lazarus is much more theatrical than some of Jesus' other miracles. At the wedding in Cana, few people even knew a miracle had occurred (John 2:7–11). When feeding thousands, it took time for people to become aware of what was happening (John 6:9–11). The man born blind gained his sight without Jesus even being there for the key moment (John 9:6–7). In this case, Jesus has purposefully waited until death is undeniable—Martha is understandably worried about her brother's corpse rotting. There is a crowd, and for the sake of that crowd Jesus openly declares that He is acting on the power and authority of God. Then He calls a dead man to life (John 11:38–44).

The response of witnesses to this miracle parallels other Scriptures about our approach to evidence. Some correctly interpret signs (John 20:30–31). Others are unsure, and yet others insist on resisting the truth, no matter what. Jesus' religious critics convene, but only to figure out how to counter Jesus' message—they have no interest in learning from His power. Caiaphas, a Sadducee installed as High Priest by the Romans, makes an accidental prophecy. That statement summarizes the reason Jesus came in human form: to serve as a perfect sacrifice atoning for human sin (Romans 5:12–19). The Council's decision is as extreme as their rejection: they agree, collectively, that Jesus must die (John 11:45–53).

As He has done in the past, Jesus moves outside of the religious leaders' immediate influence. This leads some to wonder if He'll keep His custom of attending the required feasts—such as Passover—in Jerusalem. What they don't know is that Jesus will soon enter the city hailed as a Messiah, then face arrest and death at the hands of His enemies (John 11:54–57).
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