John 11:17 MEANING

John 11:17
(17) Then when Jesus came--i.e., to the neighbourhood of Bethany. He did not at once enter the village itself (John 11:20; John 11:30).

He found that he had lain in the grave four days already.--The Jewish custom was to bury on the day of death. (Comp. Acts 5:6-10.) The whole tone of the narrative places the time of death at the point indicated by the summons to go into Judaea, in John 11:7 (see Note there). Counting the parts of the days on which they set out and on which they arrived as included in the four days, in accordance with the Jewish method, we have two whole days and parts of two other days spent upon the journey. There is no indication that they halted on the way, but everything suggests rather that they went as quickly as possible. The common view, which supposes the place where John was baptising to have been on the southern Jordan, cannot be made consistent with this long journey; and it is usual to assume that Lazarus died on the day that the message reached the Lord, that after his death our Lord remained two days where He was, and that the fourth day was occupied on the journey to Bethany. It is believed that the meaning of the narrative is brought out more fully by the interpretation which has been followed above, and that the four days for the journey is perfectly natural on the supposition which has been adopted, that the journey was from Tellanihje, which was north of the Sea of Galilee.

Verse 17. - So; or, thereupon; for οϋν not infrequently indicates the relation between two narratives, as well as between two state-meats or arguments. When Jesus came into the neighborhood of the village (see ver. 30), he found, on inquiry, that he (Lazarus) already during four days had been in the grave; or literally, had had four days. These four days are differently counted. Alford, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Lange, Gorier, Westcott, and Moulton believe that this mention proves that Lazarus died and was buried on the day on which the message was sent, which, if it took one day to deliver, and if one day had been consumed in the return of Jesus, would leave the other two days as those of the delay in Peraea. Meyer and Ewald, with Bengel and Watkins, think that he died at the conclusion of the delay, that Jesus became aware of it, and told his disciples of it, and spent the two days, or parts of them, in the journey; that on the fourth day he reached Bethany. The former and usual view is the more obvious one, although it must turn ultimately on the position of Bethany beyond Jordan. If the recent speculations of the Palestine Exploration Society and Caspari be correct, the distance between the two Bethanys may have required at least two days for the journey, and therefore favors the latter interpretation. If Bethany (Bethabara) be near Jericho, the distance between them would be much less, and the former and usual reckoning must prevail.

11:17-32 Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house. When God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith, hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus, Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an advantage to her, when it put her at Christ's feet to hear his word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her to melancholy. It is our wisdom to watch against the temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect, let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seemeth him good. To enlarge Martha's expectations, our Lord declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness; and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all evil for ever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ, about the great things of the other world, we should put it to ourselves, Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought. When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them, calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set themselves at Christ's feet to be taught by him, may with comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to find favour with him.Then when Jesus came,.... The Alexandrian copy, and all the Oriental versions add, "to Bethany"; though it seems by what follows, that he was not come to the town itself, but near it; and it looks as if it was not far from Lazarus's grave; and it was usual to bury without the city; and here he had intelligence of his, Lazarus's, death, and how long he had been dead:

for he found he had lain in the grave four days already; it is very likely that he died the same day that Mary and Martha sent to Christ to acquaint him with his sickness, and the same day he was buried; for the Jews used to bury the same day a person died, and so they do now: and after Christ had this account, he stayed two days where he was, and on the third day, he proposed to his disciples to go into Judea; and very probably on that, or on the next day, which was the fourth, they set out and came to Bethany; See Gill on John 11:39.

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