John 11:3-16

11:3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, look, the one you love is sick.” 11:4 When Jesus heard this, he said, “This sickness will not lead to death, but to God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 11:5 (Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.)

11:6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he remained in the place where he was for two more days. 11:7 Then after this, he said to his disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 11:8 The disciples replied, “Rabbi, the Jewish leaders 10  were just now trying 11  to stone you to death! Are 12  you going there again?” 11:9 Jesus replied, 13  “Are there not twelve hours in a day? If anyone walks around in the daytime, he does not stumble, 14  because he sees the light of this world. 15  11:10 But if anyone walks around at night, 16  he stumbles, 17  because the light is not in him.”

11:11 After he said this, he added, 18  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. 19  But I am going there to awaken him.” 11:12 Then the disciples replied, 20  “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” 11:13 (Now Jesus had been talking about 21  his death, but they 22  thought he had been talking about real sleep.) 23 

11:14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died, 11:15 and I am glad 24  for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. 25  But let us go to him.” 11:16 So Thomas (called Didymus 26 ) 27  said to his fellow disciples, “Let us go too, so that we may die with him.” 28 

tn The phrase “a message” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from context.

tn Grk “to him, saying”; the referent (Jesus) is specified in the translation for clarity.

tn Grk “This sickness is not to death.”

sn Jesus plainly stated the purpose of Lazarus’ sickness in the plan of God: The end of the matter would not be death, but the glorification of the Son. Johannine double-meanings abound here: Even though death would not be the end of the matter, Lazarus is going to die; and ultimately his death and resurrection would lead to the death and resurrection of the Son of God (11:45-53). Furthermore, the glorification of the Son is not praise that comes to him for the miracle, but his death, resurrection, and return to the Father which the miracle precipitates (note the response of the Jewish authorities in 11:47-53).

tn Or “to God’s praise.”

sn So that the Son of God may be glorified through it. These statements are highly ironic: For Lazarus, the sickness did not end in his death, because he was restored to life. But for Jesus himself, the miraculous sign he performed led to his own death, because it confirmed the authorities in their plan to kill Jesus (11:47-53). In the Gospel of John, Jesus’ death is consistently portrayed as his ‘glorification’ through which he accomplishes his return to the Father.

sn This is a parenthetical note by the author. It was necessary for the author to reaffirm Jesus’ love for Martha and her sister and Lazarus here because Jesus’ actions in the following verse appear to be contradictory.

tn Grk “that he”; the referent (Lazarus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

sn The village of Bethany, where Lazarus was, lies in Judea, less than 2 mi (3 km) from Jerusalem (see 11:18).

tn Grk “The disciples said to him.”

10 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 [1975]: 401-9.) Here the phrase refers to the Jewish leaders. See the previous references and the notes on the phrase “Jewish people” in v. 19, and “Jewish religious leaders” in vv. 24, 31, 33.

11 tn Grk “seeking.”

12 tn Grk “And are.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

13 tn Grk “Jesus answered.”

14 tn Or “he does not trip.”

15 sn What is the light of this world? On one level, of course, it refers to the sun, but the reader of John’s Gospel would recall 8:12 and understand Jesus’ symbolic reference to himself as the light of the world. There is only a limited time left (Are there not twelve hours in a day?) until the Light will be withdrawn (until Jesus returns to the Father) and the one who walks around in the dark will trip and fall (compare the departure of Judas by night in 13:30).

16 tn Grk “in the night.”

17 tn Or “he trips.”

18 tn Grk “He said these things, and after this he said to them.”

19 tn The verb κοιμάω (koimaw) literally means “sleep,” but it is often used in the Bible as a euphemism for death when speaking of believers. This metaphorical usage by its very nature emphasizes the hope of resurrection: Believers will one day “wake up” out of death. Here the term refers to death, but “asleep” was used in the translation to emphasize the metaphorical, rhetorical usage of the term, especially in light of the disciples’ confusion over what Jesus actually meant (see v. 13).

20 tn Grk “Then the disciples said to him.”

21 tn Or “speaking about.”

22 tn Grk “these.”

23 tn Grk “the sleep of slumber”; this is a redundant expression to emphasize physical sleep as opposed to death.

sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

24 tn Grk “and I rejoice.”

25 sn So that you may believe. Why does Jesus make this statement? It seems necessary to understand the disciples’ belief here in a developmental sense, because there are numerous references to the disciples’ faith previous to this in John’s Gospel, notably 2:11. Their concept of who Jesus really was is continually being expanded and challenged; they are undergoing spiritual growth; the climax is reached in the confession of Thomas in John 20:28.

26 sn Didymus means “the twin” in Greek.

27 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

28 sn One gets the impression from Thomas’ statement “Let us go too, so that we may die with him” that he was something of a pessimist resigned to his fate. And yet his dedicated loyalty to Jesus and his determination to accompany him at all costs was truly commendable. Nor is the contrast between this statement and the confession of Thomas in 20:28, which forms the climax of the entire Fourth Gospel, to be overlooked; certainly Thomas’ concept of who Jesus is has changed drastically between 11:16 and 20:28.