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Bible Commentaries
John 11

Wesley's Explanatory NotesWesley's Notes

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Verse 1

One Lazarus - It is probable, Lazarus was younger than his sisters. Bethany is named, the town of Mary and Martha, and Lazarus is mentioned after them, John 11:5 . Ecclesiastical history informs us, that Lazarus was now thirty years old, and that he lived thirty years after Christ’s ascension.

Verse 2

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

It was that Mary who afterward anointed, etc. She was more known than her elder sister Martha, and as such is named before her.

Verse 4

When 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.

This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God — The event of this sickness will not be death, in the usual sense of the word, a final separation of his soul and body; but a manifestation of the glorious power of God.

Verse 7

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

Let us go into Judea — From the country east of Jordan, whither he had retired some time before, when the Jews sought to stone him, John 10:39-40.

Verse 9

Jesus 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.

Are there not twelve hours in the day? — The Jews always divided the space from sunrise to sunset, were the days longer or shorter, into twelve parts: so that the hours of their day were all the year the same in number, though much shorter in winter than in summer.

If any man walk in the day he stumbleth not — As if he had said, So there is such a space, a determined time, which God has allotted me. During that time I stumble not, amidst all the snares that are laid for me.

Because he seeth the light of this world — And so I see the light of God surrounding me.

Verse 10

But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.

But if a man walk in the night — If he have not light from God; if his providence does no longer protect him.

Verse 11

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.

Our friend Lazarus sleepeth — This he spoke, just when he died.

Sleepeth — Such is the death of good men in the language of heaven. But the disciples did not yet understand this language. And the slowness of our understanding makes the Scripture often descend to our barbarous manner of speaking.

Verse 16

Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Thomas in Hebrew, as Didymus in Greek, signifies a twin.

With him — With Jesus, whom he supposed the Jews would kill. It seems to be the language of despair.

Verse 20

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Mary sat in the house — Probably not hearing what was said.

Verse 22

But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

Whatsoever thou wilt ask, God will give it thee — So that she already believed he could raise him from the dead.

Verse 25

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

l am the resurrection — Of the dead.

And the life — Of the living.

He that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live — In life everlasting.

Verse 32

Then 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.

She fell at his feet — This Martha had not done. So she makes amends for her slowness in coming.

Verse 33

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

He groaned — So he restrained his tears. So he stopped them soon after, John 11:38.

He troubled himself — An expression amazingly elegant, and full of the highest propriety. For the affections of Jesus were not properly passions, but voluntary emotions, which were wholly in his own power. And this tender trouble which he now voluntarily sustained, was full of the highest order and reason.

Verse 35

Jesus wept.

Jesus wept — Out of sympathy with those who were in tears all around him, as well as from a deep sense of the misery sin had brought upon human nature.

Verse 37

And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

Could not this person have even caused, that this man should not have died? — Yet they never dreamed that he could raise him again! What a strange mixture of faith and unbelief.

Verse 38

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

It was a cave — So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives, except Rachel, were buried in the cave of Machpelah, Genesis 49:29-31. These caves were commonly in rocks, which abounded in that country, either hollowed by nature or hewn by art. And the entrance was shut up with a great stone, which sometimes had a monumental inscription.

Verse 39

Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

Lord, by this time he stinketh — Thus did reason and faith struggle together.

Verse 40

Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

Said I not — It appears by this, that Christ had said more to Martha than is before recorded.

Verse 41

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

Jesus lifted up his eyes — Not as if he applied to his Father for assistance. There is not the least show of this. He wrought the miracle with an air of absolute sovereignty, as the Lord of life and death. But it was as if he had said, I thank thee, that by the disposal of thy providence, thou hast granted my desire, in this remarkable opportunity of exerting my power, and showing forth thy praise.

Verse 43

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

He cried with a loud voice — That all who were present might hear.

Lazarus, come forth — Jesus called him out of the tomb as easily as if he had been not only alive, but awake also.

Verse 44

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

And he came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes — Which were wrapt round each hand and each foot, and his face was wrapt about with a napkin - If the Jews buried as the Egyptians did, the face was not covered with it, but it only went round the forehead, and under the chin; so that he might easily see his way.

Verse 45

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

Many believed on Him — And so the Son of God was glorified, according to what our Lord had said, John 11:4.

Verse 46

But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

But some of them went to the Pharisees — What a dreadful confirmation of that weighty truth, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead!

Verse 47

Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

What do we? — What? Believe. Yea, but death yields to the power of Christ sooner than infidelity.

Verse 48

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

All men will believe — And receive him as the Messiah. And this will give such umbrage to the Romans that they will come and subvert both our place - Temple; and nation - Both our Church and state. Were they really afraid of this? Or was it a fair colour only? Certainly it was no more. For they could not but know, that he that raised the dead was able to conquer the Romans.

Verse 49

And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

That year — That memorable year, in which Christ was to die. It was the last and chief of Daniel’s seventy weeks, the fortieth year before the destruction of Jerusalem, and was celebrated for various causes, in the Jewish history. Therefore that year is so peculiarly mentioned: Caiaphas was the high priest both before and after it.

Ye know nothing — He reproves their slow deliberations in so clear a case.

Verse 50

Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

It is expedient that one man should die for the people — So God overruled his tongue, for he spake not of himself, by his own spirit only, but by the spirit of prophecy. And thus he gave unawares as clear a testimony to the priestly, as Pilate did to the kingly office of Christ.

Verse 52

And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

But that, he might gather into one — Church, all the children of God that were scattered abroad - Through all ages and nations.

Verse 55

And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

Many went up to purify themselves — That they might remove all hinderances to their eating the passover.

Bibliographical Information
Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 11". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/wen/john-11.html. 1765.
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