John Chapters 10 to 12, Part 4
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 here in Part 4, starting with John 10:37.
(37) If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me [Jesus made it clear that His works were the works of His Father (cf. John 5:17-30; 10:25; 14:10, 11; and 15:24). He also made it clear here in verses 37, 38 that He wasn't backing off from calling God His Father (His Father in a very special sense).]; (38) but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father [cf. John 14:10, 11, 20; 17:21-23, 26].' [[With these words of verses 37, 38, Jesus exhorted His opponents to reconsider their rejection of Him. His works, which came from the Father, served as a very strong testimony to the fact that He was the Christ and the unique Son of God, not a blasphemer. For one thing, the Old Testament had prophesied the Messiah/Christ would do these works (see John 5:36, and see under that verse in my paper on John chapters 5-8).
Taken in the fullest sense, the words "the Father is in Me, and I in the Father" proclaim the full deity of God the Son with God the Father (cf., e.g., John 1:1-5, 14-18; Heb. 1:1-3). It would have been a very important first step if Jesus' opponents would have accepted the fact that He had been sent from God/heaven and that He did the works the Father had sent Him to do and spoke the words the Father had sent Him to speak by the anointing of the Spirit of God, but they totally rejected all of that.]] (39) Therefore they were seeking again to seize Him, and He eluded their grasp. [[Apparently Jesus' opponents cooled off enough during their interchange with Him recorded in verses 32-38 that they did not try to throw their stones at Him (I had a footnote: It had already been determined that Jesus was to die by crucifixion [cf. Psalm 22:1, 14-18; Zech 12:10; John 18:31, 32; 19:37]; there was no way that the Father was going to allow Jesus' opponents to stone Him to death), but they did seek to seize Him again. Apparently they wanted to seize Him so He could be tried (and condemned by) the religious leaders of Israel. Apparently the word "again" refers back to John 7:30, 44. Jesus' eluding their grasp may have had a supernatural component (cf. Luke 4:30; John 8:59). God's appointed time for Jesus to be seized, "tried," and crucified was still a few months off (see verse 22), at the Feast of Passover.]] (40) And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was first baptizing, and He was staying there. [See John 1:28.] (41) Many came to Him and were saying, 'While John performed no sign, yet everything John said about this man was true.' [John had been given a lot to say about the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:6-8, 15, 19-37; 3:27-30).] (42) Many believed in Him there."
JOHN CHAPTER 11.
"Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany [[I'll quote part of what H. G. Anderson says regarding Bethany ("Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible," Vol. 1 [Zondervan, 1975, 1976], pages 527, 528). "[The meaning of the word "bethany" is] uncertain, though probably house of dates or figs ["beth" is "house" in Hebrew]. A village about two miles SE of Jerusalem (John 11:18) on the road to Jericho at the Mount of Olives [on the east side of the Mount of Olives] and near to Bethpage from which vicinity Jesus sent for the colt (Mark 11:1; Luke 19:29). ... According to Luke, our Lord's ascension took place near Bethany (Luke 24:50, 51)."], the village of Mary and her sister Martha [cf. Luke 10:38-42]]. (2) It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair [See John 12:1-8.], whose brother Lazarus was sick. (3) So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, 'Lord, behold, he whom You love [[Verse 5 mentions that Jesus "loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus" (cf. verses 33-36). The Greek verb for "love" used here in verse 3 is "phileo"; the Greek verb used in verse 5 is "agapao." I agree with the scholars who believe that John used these two verbs with essentially the same meaning here (cf., e.g., John 3:35, which uses agapao and John 5:20, which uses phileo.)]] is sick.' [[It is clear that Mary and Martha (and undoubtedly also Lazarus, if he was conscious) were expecting (or at least hoping; they were aware that the Jews in Judea wanted to kill Jesus) that Jesus would come and heal Lazarus (see verses 21, 32). But Jesus had other plans. He already knew (undoubtedly by revelation from the Father [cf., e.g., John 5:19, 20, 30]) that He was to raise Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:4-15).]] (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.' [[As this account continues we learn that Jesus meant that although Lazarus would die, He would raise him from the dead - this sickness would not "end in death", and that through this miracle God (the Father) would be glorified and the Son of God. God the Father would be glorified because the people would see His work, which was a manifestation of His glory (see verse 40), and they would ascribe glory to Him (glorify Him) for that work. Jesus, the Son of God, would be glorified because the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead was wrought by Him, but not apart from the involvement of God the Father (cf. verses 41-43).
Verse 45 shows that many of the Jews who were there believed in Jesus because of that miracle (cf. John 12:11). Verse 46 shows that some of the Jews who were there were not convinced that the raising of Lazarus was a good work of God: They went to the Pharisees (enemies of Jesus) to tell them what had happened.]] (5) Now Jesus loved [agapao] Martha and her sister and Lazarus. [[Jesus had/has a special love for the apostles and all true disciples (cf., e.g., John 13:1, 34; 14:21, 23; 15:9, 10, 12-14; and 17:20-26). It seems though that He had a very special love relationship with some disciples: Consider, for example, John the apostle (cf. John 13:23-26; 19:26; 20:2; and 21:7, 20-22); Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus (Luke 10:38-41; John 12:1-8 [with Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 11:2]; and John 11:28-35); and Mary Magdalene (cf. John 20:1, 11-18; Luke 8:2).]] (6) So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. [[Jesus didn't want to get to Bethany until Lazarus had been dead for a while. It isn't clear how far He had to travel to reach Bethany because it isn't clear where Jesus was staying at that time. ((I had a footnote: John 10:40 informs us that "He went away...beyond the Jordan [River, on the east side of the river] to the place where John [the Baptist] was first baptizing, and He was staying there." See John 1:28. We know that the Bethany of John 1:28 must have been near the Jordan River because John was baptizing in that river, but there is a difference of opinion regarding where that Bethany was located. D. A. Carson ("Gospel According to John," page 407) opts for the viewpoint that that Bethany was "in the region of Batanea, approximately 150 kilometers [93 miles] to the north-east of Jerusalem." It takes some time to travel distances like that when you are walking. Carson (page 408) says, "From Jewish sources it is well known that a day's journey for a healthy person was considered to be 40 or 45 kilometers [25-28 miles].")) As it turned out Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days when Jesus arrived at Bethany and raised him from the dead (see verses 17, 39).]] (7) Then after this [after the two days mentioned in verse 6] He said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again.' [The following verses show that Jesus meant let us go to Bethany in Judea, where He would raise Lazarus from the dead. But it is significant that the Jews in Judea (especially in Jerusalem) wanted to kill Jesus (see verses 8, 16, 46-54).] (8) The disciples said to Him, 'Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?' [See John 10:31; cf. John 8:59.] (9) Jesus answered, 'Are there not twelve hours [[I had a footnote: I'll quote part of what William Hendricksen says here ("Gospel of John" [Baker, 1955), page 141]. "The Jewish day has twelve hours. Whether it be winter or summer it always has exactly twelve hours, though the length of the hour differs, ranging all the way from (what would be) 9 hours and 48 minutes to 14 hours and 12 minutes. Thus the Jewish hour, being stretchable, differs from ours which is always of the same duration." And I'll quote a sentence from what D. A. Carson says on this topic ("Gospel According to John," pages 408, 409). "In days before accurate time-pieces existed, both the Romans and the Jews divided the daylight period into twelve 'hours,' which therefore varied in length with the changing seasons."]] in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. (10) But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.' [[In verses 9, 10 Jesus builds on the fact that during the "twelve hours" of the day, when we have the light of the sun, we are able to see where we are going and do not stumble, but during the hours of the night, when we don't have the light of the sun, we stumble. Building on that He speaks of the light in a figurative/spiritual sense, of the light of God that enabled Him to see spiritually and to know what the Father would have Him do and how to do it at all times and in all circumstances. Walking in the Father's will, He would never stumble; He (by virtue of who He was and by the Spirit) had the light of God in Him. Furthermore, as John 8:12; 9:5 (and other verses) show, Jesus was the Light of the world. The main point that Jesus was making here was that He knew what He was doing; He wasn't walking in the night/darkness; He wasn't going to make a mistake!]] (11) This He said, and after that He said to them, 'Our friend Lazarus [These words, "our friend," show that the disciples also had a special relationship with Lazarus.] has fallen asleep [[that is, Lazarus has died; cf. Matt. 9:24; 27:52; Mark 5:39; John 11:13; Acts 7:60; and 1 Thess. 4:13-18; there was no idea that those who died passed into an unconscious state of "soul sleep" (cf., e.g., Luke 16:19-31; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23; and 1 Thess. 4:13-18 [departed believers are with Christ now in spirit; He will bring them with Him at His second coming]).]; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep.' [As verses 12-14 show, Jesus was speaking of raising Lazarus from the dead.] (12) The disciples then said to Him, 'Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover ["he will be saved (from this sickness and get well)"].' [As the following verse shows, the disciples thought that Jesus was speaking of literal sleep.] (13) Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. (14) So Jesus then said to them plainly, 'Lazarus is dead, (15) and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.' [[Jesus' disciples already believed in Him (I had a footnote: And they believed on a much deeper level than when they had seen Him work His first miracle (John 2:11); they were believers before He worked that first miracle too), but they would believe on a deeper level after experiencing this spectacular miracle. No matter how solid and great the faith of believers, they can, and should, always be growing in faith. Our faith can grow through seeing and experiencing miracles, but the primary thing we need to be strong in faith and to be growing in faith is an ever-increasing knowledge and understanding of the word and will of God along with a walk in His righteousness and holiness by His enabling grace. God is faithful to His word and to His people. Our faith grows during times of trials/testings/difficulties (assuming we stay faithful during those times) - at such times we learn that God is faithful and His enabling grace is sufficient, and, like an athlete, we grow in things like ability, strength, and endurance.]] (16) Therefore Thomas [one of the twelve apostles (cf. Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; John 14:5, 20:26-28; and Acts 1:13)], who is called Didymus [[Compare John 20:24; 21:2. Morris points out that " 'Didymus' is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew 'Thomas,' both of which mean 'twin,' " and he discusses these names in a footnote ("Gospel According to John," page 544. In the footnote, he mentions, for one thing, that "the name [the Hebrew name Thomas] does not appear to be attested before the New Testament...").]], said to his fellow disciples, 'Let us also go, so that we may die with Him. [[Jesus had just said, "Let us go to him [Lazarus]." Even though the disciples were concerned that the Jews in Judea wanted to kill Jesus (see verse 8), and even though (as this verse shows) Thomas voiced a concern that the disciples might all die with Jesus, Thomas (and the other disciples) was committed to Jesus and obedient to go with him to Bethany. Thomas' words here seem to be quite pessimistic and cynical, and he seems to question (to doubt) whether Jesus knew what He was doing - maybe He was making a mistake; maybe His love for Lazarus was clouding His judgment; maybe He was going to get them all killed. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: Jesus had demonstrated time after time that His opponents would not be able to kill Him until it was the Father's time for Him to lay down His life, and He knew when that time had not yet arrived (and it had not yet arrived at the time He went to raise Lazarus), and He knew when it had arrived (when He went to Jerusalem for that last Passover). Furthermore, Jesus was well able to protect His disciples, which He did. It was necessary for His disciples (especially the apostles) to remain alive to carry on the foundation-laying work assigned to them. It was reasonable for the disciples to have some concern for their safety, but the fact that Jesus' opponents had not tried to arrest or kill the disciples made Thomas' statement all the more unreasonably cynical and pessimistic. Thomas may have spoken these words off the top of his head (so to speak), without really thinking about what he was saying, but it seems that his words were quite inappropriate.
Notice that John informs us that Thomas was speaking to his "fellow disciples"; apparently he didn't say these words in the presence of Jesus. I'll quote two sentences from what F. Godet says here ("Commentary on the Gospel of John" [Zondervan, reprint of the 1893 edition], page 177). "The words of Thomas to the other disciples betrays indeed more of love for the person of Jesus than of faith in the wisdom of His course of action. Their meaning is this: 'If He actually desires to have Himself killed, let us go and perish with Him.' ....")) But Jesus always knew what He was doing, and He always perfectly accomplished the Father's will (see verses 9, 10).
It seems that Thomas was so absorbed with his negative assessment of the situation that he had essentially overlooked what Jesus had said about His raising Lazarus from the dead, which would bring glory to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (see John 11:11-15; 12:9-11, 17-19), which would bless Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, and many others, and which would work for the good of the disciples (see verse 15). Thomas' doubt and pessimism showed forth again a few months later when he told the other apostles that he wouldn't believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead (when they told him that they had seen Christ after His resurrection) until he saw Him in person and the imprint of the nails in His hands, etc. (see John 20:24-29). Hopefully Thomas left his doubting and pessimism behind after He saw the Lord, and especially after he received the Holy Spirit (which included his being born again) - I assume that he did.]] (17) So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. [[See verses 6, 39. "It was the custom of the Jews, as well as other people of the Near East generally, to bury their dead on the day of death (cf. Acts 5:1-10). A speedy burial was necessary because embalming was not a custom practiced by the Jews. The body would be washed, anointed with perfumes, and wrapped in white cloth" (J. Carl Laney, "John" [Moody Press, 1992], pages 206, 207). "Among the Jews the dead were mourned for a period of thirty days. No work was done during the first three days. Deep mourning or lamenting lasted the rest of the week. ..." (Laney, page 207).]] (18) Now Bethany [the village of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha (John 11:1)] was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; (19) and many of the Jews [[It seems that at least most of these Jews were not opponents of Jesus, unlike "the Jews" of verse 8 (cf. verses 31, 33, 36, 45, and 46). Verse 45 shows that many of these Jews believed in Jesus after witnessing this miracle. Some of them undoubtedly already believed in Him. But verse 46 shows that some of these Jews went to the Pharisees, undoubtedly knowing that they were enemies of Jesus, to inform them of these things.]] had come to Martha and Mary, to console [cf. verse 31] them concerning their brother. (20) Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming [and that He was on the outskirts of Bethany (see verse 30)], went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. [I assume that Mary had not yet heard that Jesus had arrived on the outskirts of Bethany (see verse 28).] (21) Martha then said to Jesus, 'Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died [cf. verses 3, 32, 37]. (22) Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.' [[It is clear that Martha believed in Jesus (cf. verses 22-27), including her believing that He was a healer and that her brother would not have died if Jesus had gotten there before he died. Her words here in verse 22 seem to include the idea that she also believed He could raise Lazarus from the dead. It had apparently been reported to the sisters what Jesus said in verse 4 about this sickness not ending in death, but for the glory of God (cf. verse 40). Subsequent events, however, show that Martha wasn't at all convinced that Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead at that time (see verses 23-27, 39, 40).
Jesus had already raised at least two people from the dead (cf. Matt. 11:5; Luke 7:22), the widow's only son (Luke 7:11-17) and Jairus' daughter (Matt. 9:18, 19, 23-26; Mark 5:21-24, 35-43; and Luke 8:41, 42, 49-56). However, those incidents were somewhat different in that (apparently) the widow's son hadn't been dead very long in that they were carrying him out to bury him and Jairus' daughter had just died, whereas Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Many commentators refer to a later Jewish belief that could have some relevance here, a belief that could have been held in the days of Martha and Mary, the belief that the soul stayed near the body for three days after death, hoping to return to the body, but leaving and going on to Sheol/Hades when serious decomposition set in. Anyway, I am quite sure that Martha (and essentially all true believers) would have agreed that God could raise Lazarus from the dead after four days, or forty days, or four hundred days.]] (23) Jesus said to her, 'Your brother will rise again.' (24) Martha said to Him, 'I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.' [[Compare, for example, Dan. 12:2; Luke 14:14; John 5:28, 29; Acts 23:6-8; and 24:15. See under verse 22. Jesus' ambiguous words in verse 23 apparently included the fact that He would raise Lazarus from the dead at that time (a short while later). He had come to raise Lazarus from the dead (verses 4, 11-15, 25, 26).]] (25) Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life [cf., e.g., John 1:4; 5:21-26; 6:35-58; and 14:6]; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies [[These words mean more than that believers will be resurrected and inherit eternal life at the end of this age, which is what Martha had just said. ((That's what the Old Testament believers were looking forward to. [I had a footnote: Before Jesus had overthrown sin, Satan, and death (spiritual death and physical death) in His atoning death and resurrection, Old Testament believers went to Sheol/Hades (a place associated with death) at death (but not as a place of torment). Even Jesus went to Sheol/Hades when He died, but He didn't go to stay; He was resurrected on the third day. He took the Old Testament believers from the righteous compartment of Sheol/Hades to heaven after He was resurrected. See under Eph. 4:8-10 and the discussion titled "A Discussion on the Meaning of the Word 'Hades' in Acts 2:27, 31; the Meaning of 'Paradise' in Luke 23:43; and the Meaning of 'Abraham's Bosom" in my paper on Ephesians chapter 4 on this Christian article site.])) His words include the new-covenant reality that believers receive spiritual/eternal life now, starting with the new birth of John 1:12, 13; 3:3-8 ((I had a footnote: The Bible also speaks of Christians' spiritual/eternal life beginning with a spiritual resurrection (cf. John 5:21, 25, 26; Rom 6:4-11).)) (cf., e.g., John 3:15-18, 36; 5:24), and that even those Christians who die physically remain alive through the spiritual/eternal life of God that they have in union with Christ (cf., e.g., 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:21, 23). This life was not available until Jesus, the Lamb of God, had borne our sins (back to Adam) with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalty of spiritual death), so we could be set free from spiritual death and receive spiritual/eternal life in the new-covenant dimension (in Christ by the Spirit). ((I had a footnote: It is very significant that the Lamb of God also bore our bondage to sin so we could be redeemed out of the kingdom of sin and live in the righteousness and holiness of God. See my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ.")) We will not inherit the fullness of eternal life and be glorified, however, until the end of this age, at the time of Christ's second coming.]], (26) and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. [[Compare John 6:50; 8:51; and 10:28. They live spiritually/eternally in that they participate in the spiritual/eternal life of God (by the Spirit of life) through believing in Christ Jesus. They may die physically, but for a born-again Christian that is gain. If they die physically they begin to experience the life of God in a fuller sense; they go to be with God in a fuller sense than when they lived on the earth in physical bodies. As Jesus said of the born-again Christian in verse 25, he "will live even if he dies [physically]." Born-again Christians will never die spiritually, not as long as they continue to be united with Him who is life, by faith; not as long as they continue to be believers.]] Do you believe this?' [[I don't believe Martha understood all the details regarding what Jesus just said to her in verses 25, 26, but her answer in verse 27 shows that she did believe that Jesus was the promised Christ, the Son of God, and she undoubtedly understood and believed that she, and all believers, would be saved through Him.]] (27) She said to Him, 'Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ [cf., e.g., Matt. 16:16; Luke 4:17-21 with Isa. 61:1, 2; John 1:41; 3:28; 4:25, 26; 20:31], the Son of God [cf. John 1:34, 49; 3:16-18, 36; 5:19-26; 10:36; 11:4; and 20:31], even He who comes into the world [Compare Psalm 118:26 with John 12:13. Jesus came into the world (from heaven, having been sent from the Father) through the virgin birth (cf., e.g., Luke 1:26-38; John 1:9, 14; 3:31; 17:5; and Phil. 2:5-8), but Martha may not have known about His unique birth or of His deity at that time.].' (28) When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly [See verse 20. It seems that Jesus wanted to spend some time alone with Mary, as He had with Martha, but (as verses 31-33 show) it didn't turn out that way. If it had been necessary, He could have made sure that He saw her by herself.], 'The Teacher [cf. Matt. 26:18; Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11; and John 13:13] is here and is calling for you.' (29) And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. [Verse 30 shows that Jesus "had not yet come into the village."] (30) Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him [cf. verse 20]. (31) Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling [cf. John 11:19] 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. (32) Therefore ["Then" KJV: NKJV], 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.' [Martha had spoken these same words to Jesus in verse 21.]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 10-12 (with John 9:35-41) in Part 5, starting with John 11:33.
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