55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand.
Many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.
56 Then they sought for Jesus and spoke one with another,
as they stood in the temple, "What do you thinkóthat he isnít coming to the feast at all?"
57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had commanded that
if anyone knew where he was, he should report it, that they might seize him.
vs 39-42 In verse 40 Jesus is indicating that he is going to raise Lazarus in view of Martha's faith. Now we understand the sense in which he originally received the message from the sisters. We may also be reminded of his interaction with the Canaanite woman of Matthew 15 in which he seemed reluctant to answer the request, but really was provoking her to reveal the depth of her faith. Thus though God may strengthen our faith through answers to prayer, he can reveal the depth of our faith through unanswered prayer.
Perhaps we may also apply this allegorically to the resurrection of the spiritually dead into a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ, a resurrection which those born of God have already experienced, "we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him." Eph 2:5,6 But those who are dead in their trespasses often have stones in their lives which need to be removed to make way for Christ to raise them from the dead. And that's where we can help as we minister in accordance with the gifts and responsibilities God has given us.
vs 43-46 "Most assuredly, I tell you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead will hear the Son of Godís voice; and those who hear will live." John 5:25 But even having been raised he still needed others to help him be freed. So also when we are made alive in Christ, yet we still need to be sanctified from our sinfulness, but we have other Christians to help us with that. Because of this miracle many believed. It is somewhat implied that those who went to the Pharisees were unbelievers who wanted to stir up trouble for Christ. Either that or they were believers who mocked the Pharisee's with a "see I told you so" attitude. In any case this incident didn't win him any favors among the religious elite, although he became more popular in general.
vs 47-48 Here's a verse that shows just how out of touch or how unclear on the concept they were. They admit that he does many signs, but they don't seem to understand the implications of that fact. As for the Romans taking away their place and nation, just the opposite appeared to be the case. Christ was not hostile to the Romans. They were appointed by God to govern Israel much in the same way as the Assyrians and Babylonians had been in the past. It was in the rejecting of Christ that led to the Romans taking away their place and their nation. In a similar manner today the unbelievers try to blame Christianity for the world's troubles whereas quite the opposite is true.
vs 50-52 And in the same light of God using unbelievers to further his purpose, here we have a high priest was an unbeliever, but whom God used to prophecy of Christ dying for the nation. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all." Isaiah 53:5,6 The "children of God scattered abroad" refer to the Gentiles who were believers in the God of Israel.
vs 53 Although they had previously had a mind to kill him as John 7:25 indicates, yet now they were going to actually make plans as to how to carry out the murder. They were forming a conspiracy.
vs 54 Despite his new found popularity, he again withdrew due to his perception of the danger. He would be safer in the crowds during the religious festivals. As I pointed out previously Jesus only exposed himself to danger when it was necessary to do so in accordance with his mission. He was not a thrill seeker, foolishly exposing himself to danger for no good reason. Proverbs 27:12 "The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it."