Carson, D. A. The Gospel According to John. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1991.
“III. Transition: Life and Death, King and Suffering Servant (11:1-12:50);” pp. 403-453.
Taking a cue from the end of chapter 10 referencing John the Baptist, Carson sees chapter 11 of John as the start of a new segment (Carson 1991, 403). In John 11:1-44 the death of Lazarus is described (Carson 1991, 403). Counter to critics, Carson sees the Lazarus incident as showing all signs of an authentic account of a real event (Carson 1991, 404). John’s identification of the family suggests that they were known to the readers, possibly from other accounts (Carson 1991, 405). Jesus receives a message that Lazarus is ill. In verse four he asserts that the sickness will not “end” Lazarus. Carson notes this as an event in which Jesus intends to show his glory (Carson 1991, 406). Carson discusses the logistics of the various journeys briefly. He conclude that the trip made to notify Jesus would have taken about two days each way (Carson 1991, 408). Jesus’ delay assures us that the only way Lazarus could live was by divine intervention. He had been dead for several days before Jesus arrived. Jesus’ eventual comments that Lazarus has died make it clear that to God death is very much like sleep. Jesus intends to raise the dead (Carson 1991, 410). The response of Thomas in verse 16 is very bold. Thomas is willing to go and die also.
Carson notes that in verse 17 the Jews came to visit Mary and Martha. Because their village is close to Jerusalem he concludes that these people were from there and that Lazarus’ family was well known (Carson 1991, 411). The family is moved with gief. Jesus states rather ambiguously that Lazarus will rise. He then, in verse 25, begins to show that Lazarus will rise soon (Carson 1991, 412). Jesus is here making statements that show his people as possessing eternal life now, as well as later (Carson 1991, 413).
John 11:28-37 takes Mary and a number of visitors to the tomb. Mary also expresses her grief, as does Jesus (Carson 1991, 415). Carson considers some explanations of Jesus’ sorrow, but concludes that it is complex and unexplained (Carson 1991, 416).Jesus goes on in verses 38-44 to raise Lazarus from the dead. Carson describes tombs and the recognized location of Lazarus’ tomb (Carson 1991, 417). Jesus’ prayer emphasizes his unity with the Father. He then calls Lazarus to life. Carson notes that in Lazarus’ resurrection he is still bound. When Jesus rises from the dead he leaves his grave clothes behind (Carson 1991, 419).
Following the raising of Lazarus, people put their faith in Jesus. The Pharisees were consulted. Carson notes that the Sanhedrin was mostly Sadducees (Carson 1991, 420). The concern expressed is that Jesus could spark an uprising and anger Rome. The Sanhedrin does consider the matter. Carson briefly considers the identity of the high priest. Caiaphas and the politicized nature of the priesthood (Carson 1991, 421). John identifies Caiaphas’ statements as prophetic (vv. 51-52). It is best for Jesus to die on behalf of the peopl (Carson 1991, 422).
The third Passover mentioned by John begins at 11:55. Carson notes the importance of purification prior to the Passover. Jesus, however, needs no purification (Carson 1991, 424). The anointing of Jesus ast the start of John 12 is often compared with an anointing recorded in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and Luke 7 (Carson 1991, 425). Luke’s account is strikingly different. John, Matthew, and Mark are more similar, but there are still significant differences. Carson suggests that at least Matthew/Mark and John can be reconciled (Carson 1991, 426). The date would appear to be after the Sabbath ended, the evening before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Carson 1991, 427). It may have been a private dinner in the home of Lazarus or may have included the whole village (Carson 1991, 428). Carson notes details in the anointing which can tie this account to the one in Matthew/Mark. Judas’ objection in verses 4-5 is based on the value of the oointment, possibly a year’s wages (Carson 1991, 429). Jesus recognizes the event as a preparation for his burial. It does not appear that the others did so (Carson 1991, 430).
In John 12:12 Jesus moves to enter Jerusalem (Carson 1991, 431). Jerusalem would be very crowded at this time. Josephus notes immense numbers of people coming to Passover. What appears to be an impromptu parade welcomes Jesus in the way one would welcome a king (Carson 1991, 433). Carson observes the prophetic significance of the coming of a gentle king (Carson 1991, 433). The people understand the prophecies only after the resurrection (Carson 1991, 434). The presence of the crowds does create more challenges for the leaders. They wished to arrest Jesus quietly (Carson 1991, 435). In verse 20 even some “Greeks” seek out Jesus. Carson considers who the people might have been and why they came but sees it as inconclusive (Carson 1991, 437). Jesus does not respond plainly to the requet but does point out the necessity of his death to reach all people (v. 23). Jesus’ death brings glory by giving life to others (v. 24) (Carson 1991, 438). Likewise, in verse 25, as a man gives his life away in this world, he gains it in eternity (Carson 1991, 439). This is dependent on Jesus’ work to replace our mortal life with his immortality. Carson sees that Jesus’ conflict over this prospect is real. He is troubled by death (Carson 1991, 440). Jesus’ commitment to give himself is affirmed by a heavenly voice in vv. 29-30. Carson notes that here the stage is set for Jesus’ final victory over sin and his judgment of the world (Carson 1991, 443). Carson points out that in Christ’s exaltation he will draw people to himself, not to any other thing, such as the cross (Carson 1991, 444). The difficulty at this point is the people’s expectation that the Messiah would remain forever. They did not take this to allow for death (Carson 1991, 4455). Jesus, however, in verses 35-36, refers to his death and says people must trust in him. He then leaves and hides himself. Carson sees this as a demonstration of the consequence of unbelief.
In John 12:37-50 Jesus addresses the idea of unbelief (Carson 1991, 447). Humans are responsible to believe (vv. 37-43). Yet their desire to sin forces them not to believe. Carson connects this passage with Isaiah 53 and Isaiah 6. He concludes that God’s judicial hardening of hearts is not capricious but actually confirms the people’s will (Carson 1991, 448-449). This work is alien to God’s general will (Isaiah 28:21-22) and brings about God’s redemption. Jesus states that Isaiah saw his glory. Carson ties this to the vision in Isaiah 6. It is only reasonable that others who have seen Jesus in prson would believe (Carson 1991, 450).