Bible New Testament

Commentary: John 11:1-16

This is part one of the text (John 11:1-53) for the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Series A, which the ESV/NKJV/NIV all end at verse 16. Below is a very basic commentary on this text.

Jesus had just left Jerusalem because the Jews wanted to stone him (10:31) for saying, I and the Father are one (10:30), but unable to act upon this they instead sought to arrest him (10:39). However, Jesus somehow escapes and travels across the Jordan to where John had been baptizing and there he stayed (10:40).

1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

The scene now shifts location to the village of Bethany, situated two miles (3 km) east of Jerusalem. It is given significance in that it is the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10:38-42) records an event involving these two women where Martha opens their home to Jesus and His disciples. The story also portrays Martha as a doer” and Mary as the listener, the one who has chosen the good portion (10:42). It appears that John’s note highlights the depth of their relationship, however, Luke makes no mention of the Lazarus of John’s Gospel, although in Luke Jesus doe make reference to a man named Lazarus in a parable (Luke 16:19-31). John introduces us to this Lazarus as one who is ill. The name Lazarus means “God is my help.”