The death of Christ serves the framework for the raising of Lazarus. John mentions Mary’s anointing of Jesus before the story of Lazarus and she actually annoints Jesus after the story. Chapter 11 is one big chiasm.
The city of Bethany is now called Lazaria (The city of Lazarus). Why would an Arab town’s name be changed and survive for 2000 years if something amazing had not happened there. Arab’s aren’t going to do that for Christians benefit.
(1) The difficulty (3)
Lazarus was sick and about to die.
In verse 3 we see that Mary and Martha know Jesus loves Lazarus. Then in verse 5 John points out again that Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Why the repetition? Obviously, John wants to emphasize the love between Jesus and this family. Perhaps the reason for the repetition is that Jesus is about to do something that doesn’t seem very loving. He’s going to let Lazarus die. Maybe John is just trying to emphasize that just because bad things happen to us, it doesn’t mean God doesn’t love us. Later on in the account, we see Jesus “deeply moved” and “troubled” and even weeping. So there should be no question that Jesus cares.
Jesus points out that the purpose of the sickness was so that God and He himself might be glorified.
(2) The delay (4-6)
Jesus delays going to Bethany until after Lazarus has died. Again, the delay was so that God would receive more glory.
(3) The discussion (7-16)
(i) Safety (7-10)
Jesus could have healed or raised Lazarus from a distance, but perhaps he wants to go to Bethany to test the disciples willingness to follow Him into danger. This was more preparation for the persecution they would experience after His ascension. Interestingly, it is “doubting” Thomas who has boldness and encourages the rest of the disciples to follow Jesus.
(ii) Sleep (11-16)
Here we see the omniscience of Jesus. No one told Him that Lazarus was dead.
(1) His anguish (33-38)
Even though Jesus knew He was going to raise Lazarus, He wept with the others. We have an advocate with God who understands us and empathizes with us.
(2) His actions (39-44)
(3) His audience (45-46)