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Book of John
Chapter 1

The Gospel of John for Youth
Commentary by Pastor Ron Beckham

John Chapter 11

(Words in red in the Scriptures are the words of Jesus)

Verse 1.  "Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha."

We learn of a man named Lazarus, who was very sick.  He lived in a town called Bethany, which was a couple of miles from Jerusalem, and was the place where a lady named Martha lived with her sister Mary.

Verse 2.  "It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick."

This was the Mary who was to put expensive, fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus (John 12:3) and she would wipe His feet with her hair because she loved the Lord.  It was Mary’s brother Lazarus who was sick (see verse 1).

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

The sisters Mary and Martha knew Jesus would help them, and they sent someone to tell Him that their brother Lazarus was sick.  Lazarus must have been a special friend to Jesus, because they called him, “the one whom You love.”

Verse 4.  "But when Jesus heard this, He said, 'This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.'"

A messenger had come to Jesus and told Him Lazarus was sick.  Jesus told the messenger and his disciples (students) that God did not intent for Lazarus to end in death at that time.  His sickness had a purpose, which was to bring glory to Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Verse 5.  "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus."

How interesting that God the Son has special friends.  Mary and Martha were close to Him and He loved them very much.  Jesus loves you, too.

Verse 6.  "So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was."

You’d think Jesus would HURRY to Bethany, when He learned Lazarus was sick.  But instead, He stayed in the place where He was for two more days.

Verse 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.'"

Finally, after two whole days, Jesus said to His disciples (students) “Let’s go to Bethany” (which was a town in the area called Judea).

Verse 8.  "The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?'"

Jesus’ disciples (students) were worried.  The last time Jesus went into the area called Judea, the Jewish leaders tried to kill Him by throwing rocks at Him.  They missed but they might try again.

Verse 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.'"

There are about 12 hours of daylight in a day.  The people of that time usually walked around in the daytime (because they could see) but stayed home at night.  They might fall over something in the dark.  Jesus’ disciples (students) wondered what He meant by these words.  People often don’t understand God.

Verse 10.  "But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."

Jesus was still talking to His disciples (students), saying that people who walk in the dark will fall, because they can’t see very well.  He was really talking about the Jewish leaders (verse 8) and meant that the leaders were in “darkness” because they did not know God.

Verse 11.  "This He said, and after that He said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.'"

Jesus was telling His disciples that Lazarus, their friend, had fallen “asleep.”  If they had been “listening” with the Spirit of God, they would have understood that the man was dead.  But they were still listening with human understanding only.

Verse 12 The disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."

The disciples did not understand Jesus, for they thought that Lazarus had just been asleep and they knew sleep is a good thing for someone who is sick.  Sleep is good but Lazarus was no longer alive.

Verse 13.  "Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep."

Jesus had been saying that their friend Lazarus was dead, but His disciples (students) did not understand.  If they had looked to the Holy Spirit of God, they would have understood.

Verse 14.  "So Jesus then said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead,'"

Jesus finally told His disciples (students) in plain language:  Our friend Lazarus has died.

Verse 15.  "and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him."

The Lord continued speaking to the disciples (students) after shocking them with the news that Lazarus had died.  It was actually a good thing, because they needed to see that Jesus can give us life, even when we are no longer alive.

Verse 16.  "Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, so that we may die with Him.'"

Thomas was one of the special disciples (students) of Jesus.  They called him "Didymus", which means "twin".  He had a twin brother or sister.  Thomas said to the other disciples:  "Even if they kill us in Judea, let's go with Jesus."  Thomas was brave a brave man.

Verse 17.  "So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days."

When Jesus and His disciples (students) got to the town of Bethany, in Judea, Lazarus had already been dead and in a tomb (grave) for four days.

Verse 18.  "Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off;"

John the Apostle was the one who wrote the Book of John, and he wanted to be sure we knew that the town of Bethany was very near to the City of Jerusalem.

Verse 19.  "and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother."

Lots of the Jewish people in the area of Bethany, had come to the home of Mary and Martha, to comfort them because Lazarus their brother, had died.  They were very sad.

Verse 20.  "Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house."

Martha and Mary heard the news that Jesus was coming to them and that He was not very far away.  Martha went out to meet Him, but Mary was too upset and she stayed home.

Verse 21.  "Martha then said to Jesus, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.'"

Martha was upset with Jesus.  She had faith in Him and knew that if He had come to Bethany right away, Lazarus, her brother, would have been healed.  But He did not, and Lazarus had died.

Verse 22.  "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You."

Martha had a strong faith (trust) in the Lord.  She told Him she now understood that even after four days in the tomb, Jesus could bring Lazarus back to life.

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

Jesus looked at Martha and said that her brother Lazarus would be brought back to life.

Verse 24.  "Martha said to Him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.'"

Martha was not happy with Jesus' words.  She wanted her brother Lazarus to be alive NOW - not only at some time in the future when ALL the dead will be brought back to life (on "resurrection" day).

Verse 25.  "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,'"

All the dead will be brought back to life.  This happens because of Jesus Christ.  He is LIFE for you and me.  If we trust (believe) in Him, we will be given LIFE, even if we die for awhile.  The "death" of the body is only temporary for those that believe in Him.

Verse 26.  "and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?"

If we believe in Jesus Christ, we will never die.  Our bodies might fall away for a time, but we are ALIVE when we trust in Him.  Where it counts we will always be alive when we trust in our Lord.

Verse 27.  "She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.'"

Martha believed in Jesus.  She knew, through the Holy Spirit of God, that He is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) of God.  He is the One all the world had waited for, since the beginning of time.

Verse 28.  "When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, 'The Teacher is here and is calling for you.'"

Martha was excited and suddenly ran back to her house in Bethany and told her sister Mary that Jesus ("the Teacher") was there and was calling for her.

Verse 29.  "And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him."

Mary heard what Martha had told her and got up off her couch quickly and went out to meet Jesus.  She saw Martha's excitement and knew something wonderful was about to happen.

Verse 30.  "Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him."

Jesus had not left the place where he had talked to Martha.  He was waiting for Mary, and He is also waiting for your and me.  He loves us and is calling to us right now.

Verse 31.  "Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there."

There were many Jewish people who were upset that Lazarus had died, and four days later, they were still at the house of Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha.  They saw Mary leave the house quickly, and they followed her, thinking she was going to Lazarus' tomb (grave).

Verse 32.  "Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.'"

Mary was not going to the tomb of Lazarus.  She was going where we should go - to Jesus.  She fell on her face at His feet and said the same words her sister had said (in verse 21):  If you had come here quickly, Lord, my brother would be alive!

Verse 33.  "When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled,

Sometimes people cry (weep) and feel very alone.  But note that Jesus SAW her tears and He CARED for her.  He SEES you when you cry, and just like her, He CARES very much for you.  Your sadness TROUBLES Him because He loves you.

Verse 34.  "and said, 'Where have you laid him?'  They said to Him, 'Lord, come and see.'"

Jesus asked, "Where have you buried Lazarus?"  Bethany was small and everybody knew where the dead were buried.  Jesus already knows the answer, but will ask you, so that you will answer Him and take Him to your troubles and fears.

Verse 35.  "Jesus wept."

This is the shortest and possibly the best verse in the Bible.  It shows us that Jesus loves us enough to cry when we cry, and care when we are in need.  He loves you and He is touched by your sorrow.

Verse 36.  "So the Jews were saying, 'See how He loved him!'"

The "Jews" thought Jesus was crying because of His love for Lazarus, and His love for that man was real.  But Jesus' tears were for the people.  He cares when we are sad.

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

The people were upset that Lazarus had died.  They knew that Jesus had done many miracles, like the blind man who now could SEE!  Most of them did not believe in Jesus, and they wondered, "Why didn't Jesus come and help Lazarus, the man He loved?"

Verse 38.  "So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it."

Jesus knew what the people were thinking and He was concerned for them.  At that moment, He got to the tomb (an above-ground grave) of Lazarus.  They had buried him in a cave, and a large, very heavy stone was covering the door to the tomb.

Verse 39.  "Jesus said, 'Remove the stone.' Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, 'Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.'"

Jesus told them to take the large stone away from the entrance to the tomb of Lazarus.  Martha, the sister of the dead man, told Jesus there would be a bad smell because Lazarus had been dead for four days.  Jesus already knew all that.

Verse 40.  "Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?'"

Jesus had been telling Martha: "if you believe, you will see the glory of God."  He is telling you the same thing:  Believe in Jesus and you will see His glory.  He did not answer Mary and Martha in the way they expected.  His answers are better than we could think.

Verse 41.  "So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.'"

They followed what Jesus told them and took the large stone away.  Jesus, God the Son, then spoke (prayed) to God the Father, and thanked Him for hearing His prayer.  Jesus simply stood there, looked up, prayed, and the Father heard Him.  We do not have to stand, sit or kneel a certain way to be heard by the Lord.

Verse 42.  "I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me."

Jesus knew that God the Father always heard His prayers.  He thanked the Father out loud (see verse 41) so that the people listening would understand.  It was important for them (and you) to see that Jesus was sent by God the Father.

Verse 43.  "When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth.'"

Now everybody was listening and the moment had come.  Because of what would now happen, many would believe in Jesus, God the Son.  He called out, "Lazarus, come out of the tomb!"  If He had not said the name "Lazarus," many others would have come out of their graves at that time.

Verse 44.  "The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, 'Unbind him, and let him go.'"

Lazarus had been dead but now he was alive!  He was all tied up in the clothing placed around him after his death, and he could barely hop, because so much was wrapped around him.  The people were shocked, but Jesus commanded them, "Untie him, and let Lazarus go!"

Verse 45.  "Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him."

The people did unwrap him.  It was Lazraus!  He was alive again!  Jesus had brought him back from the dead!  MANY saw what Jesus had done and believed in Him, that He is the Son of God, sent to save us from sin and death!

Verse 46.  "But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done."

But some of them, even though they saw Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, did not believe.  They went to the "Pharisees" (religious leaders) and told on Jesus.  He had done something WONDERFUL and they just "tattled" on the Son of God.

Verse 47.  "Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, 'What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs.'"

The religious leaders met with each other about Jesus.  He had raised a man (Lazarus) from the dead!  This was incredible, but still most of them did not believe He was the Son of God.  They wanted the people to follow THEM, not Jesus, and so they did not believe.

Verse 48.  "If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."

They (the Jewish religious leaders) were afraid.  Their country, Israel, belonged to the Roman Empire, and they thought that if Jesus went on doing good for people and they trusted in Him, the Romans might come and take away what little they still had. 

Verse 49.  "But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, 'You know nothing at all,'"

The "high priest" was a very important man to the Jews and everybody stopped talking when he started to speak.

Verse 50.  "nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."

The High Priest wanted to do terrible things to Jesus (kill Him), and Jesus would die, but not for this man's wish.  Jesus would die for you and me.

Verse 51.  "Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,"

The High Priest thought he was planning the death of Jesus, and in a way he was.  But it was God the Father that sent Jesus to die for the sins of the nation Israel.  This man, even though he did not love God, ended up doing Gods will.

Verse 52.  "and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

Jesus not only was to die for the sins of Israel only, but He also was to die for everyone in the world, then and now - all who will love God.

Verse 53.  "So from that day on they planned together to kill Him."

That was the day when the Jewish leaders really got together and started planning to kill Jesus.

Verse 54.  "Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples."

Jesus left the area around Bethany and Jerusalem and went north to a city called “Ephraim”, which was named after one of the tribes of Israel

Verse 55.  "Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves."

The “Passover” was a feast of the Jews that looked back to the time when the nation Israel was rescued by God from slavery in Egypt.  At Passover, Jesus would save the whole world from the slavery of sin.  The people were getting ready (“purifying themselves”) for the feast.

Verse 56.  "So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, 'What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?'"

The Jews knew the leaders wanted to kill Jesus, and they were talking to each other, asking:  “I wonder if Jesus will come to the Passover feast?”  This was all “big news” to them.

Verse 57.  "Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him."

The people who would be in the temple were told that they must report it if they saw Jesus.  The chief priests and Pharisees (religious leaders) wanted to grab Jesus and kill Him.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

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