Attention!
StudyLight.org has pledged to build one church a year in Uganda. Help us double that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

John 11

Verses 1-44

  1. INTRO:
    1. Death, the last thing we want to talk about. It makes us uncomfortable, awkward, painful, so emotional. We’ve medically learned to postpone it, even tame its violence, but death is still there waiting for us. Death always waits.
      1. It comes after Celebrities: as it did Farrah Facett & Michael Jackson this week.
      2. It comes after Christian Relief Workers persecuted for their faith: as it did German nurses in training in Yemen. (Rita Stump; Anita Gruenwald; & Eom Young-sun)
      3. It comes after Family & Friends: as it did…
    2. This morning, let’s try to pull back the veil & look at this mystery in the account of a man raised from the dead, the man back from beyond - by the only One who has conquered death, Jesus Christ.
      1. Let’s watch & learn from Jesus as He tenderly ministers to His grieving friends
  2. TIMING IS EVERYTHING!
    1. TIMING! (1-16)
    2. This is Jesus 7th & last & most spectacular sign in the gospel of John.
      1. It is climatic because it illustrates beyond doubt Jesus’ power to give life & triumph over death.
    3. Jesus gives life only by giving His life!
      1. The raising of Lazarus leads directly to the death of Jesus (see vs.53)
      2. It is only at the cost of life that He gives life.
      3. It is in this sense that the illness of lazarus is for the glory of God (4).
        1. Jonathan Edwards said, “The object of all things is God’s glory; & when God gets His glory - God’s people get their joy!”
    4. The Setting: In a sleepy little hamlet named Bethany 2 miles outside of Jerusalem, where Jesus loved to get R&R at his friends house: Mary, Martha, & their brother Lazarus.
      1. ​​​​​​​It was His surrogate home for him in the south.
    5. (6) God waits - Was he too busy? - Was He attending to other matters of greater importance? No!
      1. In times of crisis its essential we understand some important facts about time & perspective.
      2. Because if you've been a Christian any amount of time you know, w/o a shadow of a doubt “God is always late!...according to our standards!”
        1. Regarding Time - Our Lord is never late. He often delays His response, but is never late. His watch is merely set to a different timetable, calibrated to matters of eternal rather than temporal consequence. (Chuck Swindoll; John; pg.60) [God’s delays are not His denials!]
        2. Regarding Perspective - We can adopt either a human or a divine outlook.
          1. Human perspective focuses on the urgent & blurs the important.
            1. It concentrates on our immediate rather than our ultimate welfare.
            2. It aims at our temporary good instead of God’s eternal glory.
          2. Divine perspective factors eternity into the mysterious equations of life.
        3. The Human perspective pleads “My will be done, now!”
        4. The Divine perspective makes its request, then patiently adds, “Nevertheless, not my will be done, but Yours!”
    6. Q: Have you checked your spiritual watch lately? Q: Is it synchronized with eternity?
    7. Q: Is it keeping His time - or your own?
    8. God’s timing - God was orchestrating an incredible moment & needed to set the stage!
      1. And since the corpse must be center stage before this drama can begin, Jesus must wait until Lazarus dies before He can make His entrance.
      2. But Mary & Martha can’t see backstage in heaven.
        1. All they can see is an expansive, black curtain drawn across their lives.
        2. They sit at home, despondent, as in an empty theater.
    9. MARTHA & MARY! (17-37)
    10. Christ’s arrival sparks some reactions in Mary & Martha. We note some similarities & some contrasts.
      1. In verse 20 we see the contrasts: Martha ran to meet; Mary sat in the house.
      2. Every family seems to have an activist & a contemplative!
        1. The Activist has to do something. He’s coming, I’ll run to him. “I’ll do all the house work, you just sit there Mary”, says Martha Stewart.
        2. The Contemplative says, I’ll just sit here & pray, ponder, think, cry, study, journal, I‘ll just feel this for awhile, says Mary.
        3. Important --> They grieve & mourn differently...& thats perfectly ok by Jesus! He meets them right where their personality takes them.
      3. In verse 21 & 32 we see the similarity of their initial greetings.
        1. Although their words are the same, their posture is not.
        2. Martha runs to him, active & erect; Mary falls at His feet, passive & prostrate.
        3. Martha said them to His face; Mary cried them at His feet.
      4. Here’s the noted difference...Martha needed Intellectual propping up; Mary needed emotional support!
        1. Martha needed to know that Jesus was in control.
        2. Mary needed to know that Jesus cared.
      5. How did Jesus handle both of these friends? Without rebukes or reservations.
        1. He met each sister were she was, whether standing or prostrate; whether needing intellectual or emotional support.
        2. One evoked theological truths & promises; the other evoked tears!
      6. When my mother died when I was 21, & still had 2 younger sisters at home, I approached Jesus like Martha, desiring intellectual answers, “Why???”
      7. When my father died I just needed emotional support from Jesus.
        1. God is in control & He cares!!!
      8. Many Christians often feel that bringing glory to God means putting on a happy face no matter what is happening in our lives.
        1. If we’re sad, angry, confused, or hurting, we somehow feel that if we don’t have these difficult feelings wrapped up neatly in a moments time, we’ve betrayed the faith & put a blot on our testimony to Jesus.
        2. But,not once did he tell anyone,“Stop crying!” Or “How dare you question Me!”
        3. When you grieve, when you’re confused, even when you’re angry, don’t try to hide your feelings from God & pretend every thing's alright.
          1. He knows you better than that.
          2. And since He is the Truth...He can handle the truth!!!
    11. (21) We also learn to take our “if’s” to Jesus.
      1. How broad the blame we place on “if’s” little shoulders!
        1. “If only we hadn’t moved here!” “If only I hadn’t married him/her!” “If only I hadn’t listen to her/him!” “If only we had more money!”
        2. What are your “if onlys”? - Take them to Jesus, like Mary & Martha did.
          1. God is in control & He cares!!!
    12. (24) The problem the Jews had with Jesus resurrection, wasn’t because they didn’t believe in a resurrection(they did), just not an “individual” one.
    13. (25) The plague on George Washington’s tomb at his Mount Vernon estate has this verse.
    14. (26) Shall never die - for the believer death is no longer death. It introduces him into a new state of life. [Unbelievers view death, it’s over! Believers see it, its only just begun!]
    15. (27) We must move from “Lord if”(21,32) to “Lord I believe”(27).
    16. JESUS! (33-44)
    17. Twice Scripture wipes the eyes of Jesus’ tears!
      1. On a hill looking over Jerusalem, as He weeps for the nation. And, On the way to a friend's grave, as He weeps with those who grieve.
      2. What an incredible Savior. Weeping not just for us in our sin, but with us in our suffering.
      3. So strange, One with absolute power would surrender to so small an army as tears? But He does! (Ken Gire; Incredible Moments with the Savior; pg.96.)
        1. ​​​​​​​(Ken Gire) And, for a beautifully tender moment, we are given the privilege to glimpse one of the most provocative embraces between deity & humanity in all the Scriptures.
      4. Thank you Jesus, for giving dignity to our grief & freedom to our emotions!
      5. Thank you Jesus, for the beautiful tribute that tears are to the dead, telling them they were loved & will be missed!
      6. Thank you Jesus, you know what it’s like to lose someone you love.
      7. Thank you Jesus, you know how I feel!
      8. Thank you Jesus, you’ve enabled me to weep with those who weep.
        1. Help me to feel the pain they feel, the uncertainty, the fear, the heaviness, the regret, the despondency.
        2. Help me to share with those who cry out, “Lord, if You had been there… & help them to see that you were there, weeping with them!
    18. (33) Weep = the wailing of mourners.
    19. (35) Jesus wept = implies the silent tears of sympathy.
      1. But note vs.33 He groaned in the spirit - lit. He was enraged in spirit & troubled Himself!!! (prof. Tasker; Stibbs; Search the Scriptures)
        1. I hate death. I hate what sin has done to My creation. I hate the distress to mankind. I hate to watch my children grieve so intensely.
        2. His anger was roused against the evil powers of death, which caused such distress to mankind, & which he was about to conquer here by a mighty display of divine power, & finally on the cross by His own death & resurrection.
    20. (38) Jesus comes to the tomb, that stone testimony of a creation gone tragically awry! (Chuck Swindoll; John; pg.61)
      1. Again He grieves(38)
    21. (44) Then, like an eerie scene from the mummy’s Tomb, lazarus comes forth - back from beyond. Kinda creepy! But what stories he could tell.
    22. Lessons:
    23. When delay occurs, God has a better time & a better way.
    24. When death occurs, God has a better plan & a better purpose.
    25. It revealed Jesus is who He said He was - the Resurrection & the life! But it revealed something else. The Tears of God!
      1. Now which do you say is more incredible?
        1. A man who raises the dead...or a God who weeps?
      2. What do you find more amazing?
        1. The power of Jesus or the emotions of Jesus?
    26. End:
    27. AA.God warned Adam that disobedience would bring death, physical death (the separation of the soul from the body) and spiritual death (the separation of the soul from God).
      1. Revelation 20:14 calls hell the second death, that is eternal death.
    28. What sinners dead to God’s ways need is not: education, medicine, morality, or religion; they need new life in Jesus Christ.
    29. When dead sinners hear the voice of the Son of God (the Word) and believe, they are given eternal life. To reject that Word is to be dead forever.
    30. Keep in mind that salvation is not a set of rules; it is life. This life is a Person - J.C.

Verses 45-57

  1. INTRO:
    1. A certain medieval monk announced he would be preaching next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” As the shadows fell and the light ceased to come in through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First of all, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.
      1. ​​​​​​​Oh, the extravagant love Jesus showed us!
      2. Is it possible for us to show Him extravagant love? What would it look like?
  2. PLOT TO KILL JESUS! (11:45-57)
    1. ​​​​​​​PROBLEM! (45-48)
    2. They cared more about their political status & power on earth than they did about whether Jesus really was sent by God. [were simply trying to save their political skins!]
    3. They feared that Jesus might get such a following that even Rome would feel threatened.
    4. PROPHECY! (49-52)
    5. Caiaphas proposes, a simple lethal solution - “Why should the whole nation be destroyed? Let this one man die for the people.” [He didn’t realize how correct he was!]
    6. Admire the bee: It sees its hive being threatened, it will use its one defense...its stinger! They will die in their defense of their hive. They have one thought only - the safety of the others in the hive, & gladly will give their lives for the good of the many.
    7. PLOT! (53-57)
    8. (53) From now on Jesus & the Sanhedrin were on a collision course!
      1. From this time on Jesus alters His course:
        1. He changes His public outreach to a private in-reach.
        2. He shifts His emphasis from signs to quiet intimate conversation w/His disciples.
        3. He reduces His travels & returns to Jerusalem & stays there.
        4. He’s not out evangelizing; He’s preparing to leave & preparing the disciples for His departure.
    9. (54) The timing of His laying down of His life is still in His hands.
      1. Jesus heads to Ephraim, 12-15 miles away from the city, until Passover.
      2. As Passover nears, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world” begins to make his final preparations before He lays down His life & takes it up again.
    10. (57) Finally, they have an APB(All Points Bulletin) out on Jesus.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on John 11". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/john-11.html. 2017.