11:4 when Jesus heard that. This is the first of twenty-four occurrences of the name “Jesus” in the eleventh (and central) chapter of John’s gospel. Although John especially wrote to show the deity of Christ (John 20:30-31), he used the human name “Jesus” more often than either Matthew, Mark or Luke, and more times here in this central chapter than in any of his twenty other chapters.
11:9 walk in the day. This was a proverbial expression which Jesus applied to His ministry. There was no danger as long as He was doing the Father’s will, walking in the light. The time was coming, however, when He would have to walk in darkness, but even this was the Father’s will.
11:11 sleepeth. “Sleep” is occasionally used to refer to death, though only the death of believers (e.g., I Thessalonians 4:13). At this point, Lazarus had already been dead for three days (compare John 11:39), since it would take about a day to walk from “beyond Jordan” (John 10:40), where Jesus was staying at the time, to Bethany. Jesus knew that He could not have reached Lazarus before he died, even if He had started as soon as the sisters’ messenger reach him (John 11:3). His purpose in waiting was to demonstrate beyond question both His omniscience and omnipotence (John 11:4,15).
11:16 Didymus. “Didymus” means “Twin” in Greek, which is also the meaning of “Thomas” in Aramaic. Thomas seems to have been of a somewhat cynical turn of mind (note John 14:5; 20:25) until after He had seen Jesus alive from the dead (John 20:28).
11:18 nigh unto Jerusalem. Bethany is about two miles from Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives and on the road from Jerusalem down to Jericho and the Jordan River. Its modern name is an Arabic term meaning “The Place of Lazarus.”
11:18 furlongs. See note on Luke 24:13.
11:25 I am the resurrection. This great assertion is the fifth of the “I am” claims in John. “In Him is life” (John 1:4), for He is the “Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
11:26 whosoever lieveth. Those who “sleep in Jesus” shall be raised from the dead when He returns. Those who are still living when He returns will never die, but will be immediately changed and immortalized (I Thessalonians 4:13-17).
11:35 wept. This verse is widely recognized as the shortest verse in the English Bible, but it is also one of the most poignant. There is no mention in the Bible of Jesus ever laughing, but He was often observed weeping (e.g., Luke 19:41). In this case, He was sharing the grief of Mary and Martha, for He too loved Lazarus (John 11:5), but He also “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (John 11:33) at the very existence of death and the universal phenomenon of sin by which death reigned. His raising of Lazarus, however, would at least testify that He was able to give life and would one day put away sin and death forever.
11:39 Take ye away the stone. Jesus would perform no miracle on that which men could do for themselves. Hence His commands to remove the stone, and then later to “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). He had earlier rebuked those who wanted to see miracles just for some kind of spiritual display (John 4:48; etc.).
11:50 one man should die. Caiphas again expressed this unintended—but nevertheless fulfilled—prophecy at Jesus’ trial (John 18:14).
11:51 he prophesied. This is a remarkable divine irony. The high priest was Caiphas who, as the presumed representative of God to the people, should have gladly received Jesus as the promised Messiah. Instead he led in His trial and condemnation (Matthew 26:65-66). Nevertheless, he was divinely inspired unwittingly to acknowledge the real mission of Christ to the Jews and the whole world (see also John 18:14), that of substitutionary sacrifice for their sins. It is also noteworthy that, in 1992, the bones of this same Caiphas were discovered in his tomb underneath the modern city.
11:52 not for that nation only. Caiphas actually prophesied that Jesus “should die for the people,” not just the Jews (also in John 18:14).