Richard Burridge: John Chapters 11-12

John 11:1-6. Burridge sees Chapters 11-12 as an "interlude" between the Book of Signs and the Book of Glory, and as the Gospel's hinge. Lazarus (Hebrew Eleazar, God is my help, Exodus 6:23-25) is named, unlike people in the other signs; and the discussion takes place en route with the sign at the end. Bethany means "house of affliction".

John 11:7-16. The delay in going to Lazarus and the 'threat' of returning to Judea are instances of Jesus retaining control. As for the danger of stoning, friendship calls. As with us, sleep is a euphemism.

John 11:17-24. Perhaps the four days Lazarus had been dead related to the Rabbinic idea that the soul departs the body after three. As so often, Jesus' "he will rise again" operates at many levels but confuses his hearers.

John 11:24-33. "I am the Resurrection and the life" transforms Martha's expectations; her response encompasses John's whole theology: "You are the Christ, the son of God, the one coming into the world", the "female version of Peter's confession". Mary meets Jesus on the road at the tombs.

John 11:33-44. Jesus is moved: en-brimo means to snort, as of a horse, denoting anger; Tarasso means to be troubled, conveying strength of feeling. In spite of Martha's faith she reverts to worrying about the smell.

John 11:45-57. A chapter about life ends with a death threat. While the Pharisees were concerned with interpreting and keeping the law, the Sadducees, including the Chief Priests, controlled the Temple and were worried that dissension would involve Rome; after the destruction of the Temple the Sadducees disappear and the Pharisees thrive. Caiphas prophesies what will happen to Jesus, dying for "the whole people".

John 12:1-8. It is not known how the various stories of Jesus' anointing relate. Pure (pistikos) may refer to pisteeuo, meaning faithful; the best nard comes from India; a pound is extravagant, about one year's wages for a labourer. Mary anoints Jesus, not as a king, over his head but over his feet, the starting point for embalming. Jewish women only let their hair down in the bedroom and in mourning.

John 12:9-19. Synoptics designate Palm Sunday as Jesus' first entry into Jerusalem; for John the emphasis is on division caused by the raising of Lazarus which, necessarily, upset the Sadducees. Josephus says that over two million people came to Jerusalem for the Passover, no wonder the Jewish and Roman leaders were worried. John is the only Gospel to mention Palm branches (Phoenix baia), both words referring to Maccabean triumphs (respectively 1 Maccabees 13:51; 2 Maccabees 10:7); the greeting of a conqueror with Psalm 118 is emphatic; but the donkey is the animal of peace (Zechariah 9:9 modified by Zephaniah 3:16).

John 12:20-26. The hour has come; the grain must die to bring new life.

John 12:27-36. Jesus' trouble (Tarasso) refers to Lazarus (Psalm 42:6; 55:4). The voice from heaven significant as John lacks the Transfiguration and Gethsemane. Again the word hipsoun (lifted up) is used with its double meaning but crucifixion is explicit as is the reference to gentiles "other sheep". The crowd is confused by hipsoun (cf Psalm 89:29-37; 110:4) because the Messiah is supposed to "live forever".

John 12:36-43. As Jesus conducts his last dialogue with the people, John addresses readers directly, citing the fourth 'Servant Song' (Isaiah 52:13-15; 53:1-12) "... he was despised and rejected"; people did not understand (Isaiah 6:10). The Moses parallels are numerous.

John 12:44-50. Some scholars think this passage should be elsewhere; but it is a useful summary of major themes before the Passion narrative begins.

Taken from:

Burridge, Richard: John: The People's Bible Commentary, The Bible Reading Fellowship, revised 2008, ISBN 978 1 84101 570 5.

KC VII/08

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