It was common for the Jews to go up to Jerusalem prior to feast days in order to have time to purify themselves from ceremonial uncleanness (cf. II Chr. 30:13-20). Those who were ceremonially unclean were excluded from participating in the feast (cf. John 18:28).
Many conversations in that day centered upon Jesus and whether or not He would show up for the Passover. The wording in the Greek seems to indicate a negative reply. They are essentially saying: "He will not likely come, will He?" The reason why most did not expect Him to appear is indicated in the John 11:57.
The religious leaders had issued a command that anyone knowing where Jesus was must report it so they could arrest Him. The common people knew that for Jesus to come to Jerusalem would have been for Him to risk almost certain death at the hand of the religious elite. They assume He is aware of this danger and that He will stay away.
"Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him" (John 12:1,2).
Jesus' "hour" had come and He continues His journey to Jerusalem, in spite of the suffering and anguish that awaits Him. Jesus had one week left to live at this time. He must have arrived on Friday, for certainly He would not have been traveling on the Sabbath. The feast was probably held on Saturday evening (after sunset). Although John supplies more detail than Matthew and Mark, the similarity of the three texts seems to demand that they all are referring to the same event (cf. Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9). This feast was held the night before the triumphant entry into Jerusalem (cf. John 12:12). This Bethany was located two miles southeast of Jerusalem (cf. 11:18).
According to Matthew 26:6, Jesus was "at the house of Simon the leper." It is unknown who exactly this Simon was though certainly he had been cleansed of his leprosy (probably by Jesus or one of His disciples). Had he still been a leper, this social event would not have included him or taken place at his house (cf. Lev. 13:45,46). Perhaps Simon united with the household of Lazarus in an effort to show gratitude to Jesus for His goodness to them. This would explain why the supper was held at Simon's house, yet Martha was the primary one serving (cf. John 12:2).
Technically, referring to this man as a leper would be incorrect, just as referring to the "blind man" in John 9:17 was not technically accurate. But, in both cases, the meaning is clear as to who is being referred to.
We will continue studying this narrative in our next lesson.