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Song of Solomon
John 11 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Now a certain
Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
Christ the Antagonist of death - a victory of love and power
. The narrative of this chapter is a further advance in the proof that the unbelief of the Jews was aggravated by the greatness of the revelation. The issue of his sublime and culminating act of power, of his supreme and self-revealing work of transcendent tenderness and beauty, was a deeper and wilder passion of hatred. The evangelist completes his series of seven great miracles with one that in true and believing minds, evokes a new sense of the glory of God. This great last sign corresponds with the first (John it.) by being enacted amid the domestic and family life of a small and insignificant town, and also by express reference to the veritable manifestation involved in it of the
, on which we have frequently commented. Baur treated the narrative as an ideal composition, illustrating the great metaphysical utterance, "
am the Resurrection and the Life." Keim endeavored to reduce the whole narrative to a fiction, not so well contrived as some of the evangelist's
tours de force
. This is almost as arbitrary and offensive as M. Renan's endeavor (which held its place in numerous editions of his 'Vie de Jesus') to represent the miracle as a got-up scene, into which Christ, by a kind of Divine
, allowed himself to be drawn. Subsequently, Renan has suggested that Mary and Martha told Jesus their persuasion that such a miracle would convince his enemies, and that he replied that his bitter foes would not believe him even if Lazarus were to rise from the grave; and that this speech was expanded by tradition into an actual event. This corresponds with what Weisse had suggested, that the story is an expansion of the Lord's conversation with the sisters at Bethany. Gfrorer ('Heiligthum und Wahrheit,' p. 311, Meyer) thought that it is the story of Nain over again in a developed form, and that Nain is equivalent to Bethany; and Schenkel has fancied that the parable of
. has been expanded into a narrative of genuine resurrection. Thorns
, in like manner, regarded it as the poetic expansion of the idea of the Christ as the Prince of life and Conqueror of death, and as based on the synoptic account of two resurrections, and on the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. These hypotheses are all incompatible with the simplicity of the account and with the apostolicity of the Gospel. Many attempts have been made to account for the silence of the synoptists concerning this narrative. Some writers, with Epiphanius, have said they feared, when their narratives were made public, to call such marked attention to the family of Bethany, lest they might have endangered their lives; but this is exceedingly improbable. Others have argued that this crowning miracle would not take such a conspicuous place in their less-carefully arranged records. It was only one of "many signs" wrought by our Lord with which they were familiar. Matthew (
) and Mark (
) had already described the raising of Jairus's daughter from the bed of death, from what was believed by the onlookers to have been veritable dissolution; and Luke (
) had shown the Lord at the gates of Nain to have royally withstood the power of death, even when the corpse of a young man was being carried out to the burial. The narrative before us is not different in kind from these, though the prelude and the accompaniments of the miracle and its consequences are all wrought out with much dramatic force, while numerous touches, by-scenes, and references are introduced which give consummate interest to the whole. Another suggestion of moment is that it was not the purpose of the synoptists to detail the incidents of our Lord's ministry in Jerusalem. Let it not be forgotten that each of the evangelists records incident and discourse to which neither of the others had access. The peculiarities of Matthew and Luke are nearly as numerous as those of the Fourth Gospel. Why should not John bring forth facts from his memory which they had left untouched? (see Introduction, p. 96.).
The mystery and might of sacrificial love seen in the prelude of the miracle
Now a certain (man) was sick, (named) Lazarus, of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha
. The certain man who was sick, Lazarus (or Eleazar) by name, was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. The two prepositions
generally denote procession from, but the latter implies closer and more intimate original association; they here are put in apposition, though there are passages where they are discriminated (
; R.T. of
). The contention of Gresswell that
referred to present residence, and
to nativity, and that the
was to be found in Galilee, is not sound (see
). Bethany is mentioned to distinguish it from "Bethany beyond Jordan," referred to in
(see note). The town is now known as
, and is about a mile and a half from Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Simonis interpreted the name to mean "house of depression," "valley-town"
(Lightfoot); Reland derives its name from
, "house of dates" (see
). It seems that palm branches could be then torn from the trees in the neighborhood. Arnold (Herzog., 'Enc.') derives its name from
(Aramaic), "house of the afflicted." The village has become well known in the circle of evangelic narrative from St. Luke's reference to Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38, etc.). Mary's name is probably mentioned first from the further record of her ecstatic love, which the other Gospels were diffusing through the world, and to which John makes an anticipatory reference. Her name had not been given before. In
she was "a certain woman." John throws light on the ground of her gratitude. The efforts made by Bunyan, in his 'Jerusalem Sinner Saved,' and by Hengstenberg, to defend the pre-Reformation identification of "Mary" with the "Magdalene," and the Magdalene with the woman that was a sinner (cf.
), rest on insufficient grounds. The identification of the two anointings with each other is without justification. All the circumstances are different - the time, the place, the obvious reason, the motive assigned by our Lord, the conversations which followed. If a woman who was a sinner had taken such a
, and this expression of her gratitude had been accepted by Jesus, Mary of Bethany found more ample reason for following her example (see Dr. Schaff's admirable and extended reply to Hengstenberg). B. Weiss acutely observes that this reference shows that in the circle for which the evangelist wrote Bethany was known as the home of the sisters, and Mary as the heroine of the anointing incident. Numerous other identifications,
. of Simon the Leper with Simon the Pharisee, Martha with Simon's wife, are precarious. Dean Plumptre's identification of Lazarus with the "rich young man" who is supposed to have given his all away to the poor, and who possessed nothing but a solitary garment; and his subsequent identification with the young man who fled away naked on the night of Christ's arrest, are specimens of ingenuity, but carry no conviction. The contrast between the ideas involved in the parable of
. and this narrative is so profound that we dismiss the hypothesis of the identity of the two Lazaruses. Strauss, Keim, and others deal with it as an expansion of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, who is supposed actually to have been sent unto the people from the dead, but, in agreement with our Lord's prediction, winning no obedience. Vehement efforts are made in this and other ways to undo the commanding significance of the miracle. Bishop Wordsworth and Archdeacon Watkins are disposed to identify the Lazarus of the parable and the Lazarus of Bethany; the latter supposes the parable to have been delivered at the very time mentioned in Persea. Our Lord's statement, that the brothers of the rich man would not believe though one rose from the dead, was in some sense paralleled by the desire of the Jews to put Lazarus to death; but the reason given is that by reason of Lazarus "many of the Jews went away from them, and believed on Jesus" (
; cf. also
, "Many of the Jews, when they beheld what he did, believed on him").
Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
Now it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.
is used of any aromatic balsam which is distilled from trees and herbs by itself. In classical Greek
was used of costly ointments used by women.
was the common oil used by men for purposes of health, which might be perfumed. Our Lord clearly draws a distinction between the
has been said to be used for the more superfluous anointings and
for the sanitary anointing with oil. No trace of such distinction is found in the New Testament (cf.
). One great distinction in biblical Greek is that
is used of religious anointings, from its association with
in the LXX. is only twice used in this sense, while
is used times without number (Archbishop Trench, 'New Test. Syn.,' § 38.). The use of the term
, "Lord," shows that the story was widely known, and that when the Gospel was written it had passed into a commonplace of Christian experience and illustration. The anointing has not yet been referred to by John, but he is looking back upon the events and anticipates his own subsequent record.
Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
Therefore the sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou
lovest is sick
). The sisters knew well what peril Jesus and his disciples would encounter by coming to Bethany, and they must have known that he could have healed him by a word; so they simply state the case. (On the difference between
, see notes on John 5:20; 21:15, 17. Trench, 'New Test. Syn.,' § 12. The former word is that of personal affection and fondness, though occasion ally having grander associations and equivalent to
, and means the love of choice, of sentiment, of confidence and esteem.) There is delicate tact and beauty in the use of the two words, one by the sisters, the other by the evangelist. The statement of needs, the simple voice of our weakness, the infant's cry, goes up to heaven. The bleat of the lost lamb is enough for the good Shepherd.
When Jesus heard
, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
When Jesus heard (it), he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby.
What message Jesus gave to these who brought him these tidings we know not; the evangelist records what he said to the bystanders. Our Lord did not mean to say that the sickness would not terminate in what men ordinarily call "death," nor that it was not a deadly disease, but that it was not
. "He shall not fall a prey to death" (Meyer), The sickness is so timed that it shall conduce to the (
) glory of God,
the majestic appreciation of the sublime perfections of God, and that by or in it the Son of God may be glorified.
elsewhere in the Gospel means "sacrifice on behalf of;" so here the very suffering of Lazarus and of the sisters, and the tears of Jesus over the grave, are part of the sacrificial ministry by which the glory of God or of the Sun of God may be advanced.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
Now Jesus loved
Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
"Felix familia!" (Bengel). Martha is here mentioned first, because in all probability the head of the household. The love of selection, friendship, or esteem is the result of long acquaintance, and reveals "the fragmentariness of the evangelic records" (Westcott); see note on ver. 3.
When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.
Verses 6, 7.
of ver. 6 implies an understood
in ver. 7, and the whole passage will be as follows:
Now Jesus loved deeply Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus; when therefore he heard that he (Lazarus) was sick, he remained, it is true
two days in the place where he was, but then
(and because he loved)
he saith to his disciples, Let us go again into Judaea
. He did not remain because he loved, but,
he remained, and
he loved, he said, "Let us," etc. So that we do not see here any intention on his part, by remaining, to test their love (Olshausen), nor to exaggerate the effect of the miracle by raising a dead man from his grave rather than from his death-bed or his bier. It is not difficult to gather from the sequel that when the message reached Jesus Lazarus was dead and buried. We find that when our Lord returned to Bethany four days had elapsed since the death of Lazarus, and the four days must be calculated thus: First one long day's journey from Peraea to Bethany, a distance of eight or nine leagues. If the messenger of the sisters had taken equal time to reach Jesus in Perked, or even a longer period, as time might easily be consumed in the effort to find our Lord in the mountains of Moab; then the two days of his waiting after receiving the message would, with those occupied by the double journey, make up the four that had passed when Jesus reached the grave. Lucke, Neander, Godet, and Westcott think that our Lord remained in Peraea because there was work in which he was engaged and could not relinquish. Meyer, Moulton, and Weiss, that he waited for some especial communication from his Father, for some revelation of moral necessity and heavenly inspiration, like those which dictated all his other movements. B. Weiss: "It was a sacrifice to his calling, of his heart's most ardent desires, that he remained quietly two days in the same place." "We see," says Edersheim, "Christ once more asleep while the disciples are despairing, swamped in the storm! Christ never in haste, because always sure." The silences of Scripture and the waitings of God are often without explanation. The event proves that deep purpose presided over them. The "let us go," etc., implies a lofty courage, a sense of coming crisis. Love conquers fear and peril for himself and his followers. "Judaea" is mentioned rather than Bethany for the same reason. The "again" points forcibly back to the last visit, when he told both friends and foes that the good Shepherd would snatch his sheep from the jaws of death, even though he lay down his own life in the doing of it.
Then after that saith he to
disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.
disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
- The Aramaic word "Rabbi" is frequently used by John, as the term of respect applied to both the Baptist and our Lord. The extraordinary dignity which the Jews accorded to their
may throw some light upon the honorific title when yielded or conceded to Christ.
The disciples say unto him, Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
imply the continuous process of their antagonism only just now arrested by a timely flight. Here in Peraea Jesus found appreciative listeners. The disciples are more in fear for their Master than for themselves. The residence beyond Jordan had been brief, and they are amazed that the Lord will so soon put himself in the power of that seething and hostile crowd. How different this language from that of his own brothers (
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
The answer of Jesus is a further deliverance concerning the human law and season (
) of work - a parable drawn from earthly and human analogies, which will unquestionably have a direct bearing on the conditions of Divine service at all time, and is therefore applicable to the disciples with himself. It receives also special significance from some aspects of Christ's own ministry, and from the step he had just now declared that he intended to take. Of course, the parable is based upon the conditions of human work; one of these conditions is
, another of them is
. Light is necessary for all the wise efforts of men - the light of day, the light of this world or the sun; we must see whither we are going, in order to avoid the occasions of stumbling. We must submit to this comprehensive condition, or we fail (cf. here
, "I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work"). There are two kinds of night of which he speaks. One is the night which arrests all labor, the night of death; and the other is the night of ignorance and unbelief, when the light that is in a man becomes darkness, when, if a man does attempt to work or walk, he will stumble. Meyer and some others, from the reference to another condition, viz. that of
, persist in limiting the notion of the
to that of the period of service, about which the Lord says also some very solemn things; and Meyer objects to Luthardt and others, who give to the sun, to the light of this world, any moral or spiritual meaning. We need not limit the application. Light may mean knowledge of duty supplied by God's providence and the revelation of his will, and so far as "day" is made by light, it is important to notice it here. But
is an equally important condition, and whereas in
John 9:4, 5
the Lord laid emphasis upon the
amount of opportunity during which the light lasts and the work can be done; so here there is an
period during which stumbling is unnecessary: "twelve hours in the day." This (I take to be Christ's meaning) is one of these hours, and before the night comes "I must work." Godet suggests that the disciples, by this question, recommended him not to shorten his career by courting danger, and so to create for himself "a thirteenth hour" to the day, in which he would secure no blessing; that the Lord condemned the proposal, knowing that he was immortal till his hour had come; and that if we shrink from a call of duty, and thus save ourselves, adding an unhallowed increment to our day of useless work, we incur the like condemnation, we shall stumble. Let it be observed that the reason for working in the night is not because we have twelve hours for duty and no more, but because, though we have a time of service and an opportunity, we have let both slip past us, and then the work is difficult and perilous if we do attempt it. Some have said that Judas, Peter, Thomas,
., walked in the night, and that they stumbled and fell.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.
He shuts himself off from the light of God-given opportunity, and carries no lamp in his soul. There is no necessity to suppose, in
, that the day was drawing to a close, or that in this place a natural day was dawning; but there is some probability from this phraseology that John adopted the Babylonian rather than the Roman method of computing the hours of the day. This has decided bearing on several important questions (notes,
John 4:6, 52
). The "twelve hours" shows, at all events, that the Jews at this time generally reckoned from sunrise to sunset. It must be remembered that the day differed considerably in length at different parts of the year, from fourteen hours to nine; but perhaps the emphatic use of the expression derives special interest from the fact that the equinox was approaching.
These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
These things spake he,
and probably many more words expository of the vast principle of service which he here propounded;
and after this
implies a break, during which the disciples pondered his words)
he saith, Our friend Lazarus
; implying that Lazarus was well known to the disciples, and that the Lord classes himself here, in wondrous condescension, with
. He elsewhere speaks of the twelve as his "friends" (
John 15:14, 15
, where he made it a higher designation than
; see also
). John the Baptist also calls himself "the Bridegroom's friend" (
). Though Lazarus had passed into the region of the unknown and unseen, he was still" our friend."
Hath fallen asleep
. Meyer says that Jesus knew this by "spiritual far-seeing;" and Godet thinks that he knew it by supernatural process, and had known it all along. It does not require much beyond what we know to have occurred in thousands of instances, for our Lord to have perceived that his friend had died - had, as he said, "fallen asleep," in that new sense in which Jesus was teaching men to look on death.
But I go, that I may awake him out of sleep
is a late Greek word; cf.
). Wunsche says the Talmud often speaks of a rabbi's death under the form of" sleep" ('Moed. K.,' fol. 28, a; cf.
1 Thessalonians 4:14
). Homer spoke of death and sleep as "twin sisters," Christ's power and consciousness of power to awake Lazarus from sleep gives, however, to his use of the image a new meaning. It is not the eternal sleep of the Greek and Roman poets.
Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
therefore say unto him, Lord, if he have fallen asleep, he will recover
. Wunsche quotes 'Berach,' fol. 57, b, "Sleep is a good sign for the sick." The language of the disciples is somewhat remarkable; at least their misunderstanding is puzzling (Reuss and Strauss think it is a sign of the unhistorical); but it probably arose out of the statement, made two days before, that "the sickness was not unto death," and from their eager and affectionate desire to prevent their Lord's retraining to Judaea.
If he have fallen asleep
he well recover
). The whole narrative is throbbing with deeper meanings than lie on the surface of it. The theory of the sanitary effects of sleep in fever are well known, and the rousing from such sleep might seem hazardous; but the disciples were catching at straws to save their Master.
Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
Now Jesus had spoken of his death: but they thought that he spake of taking rest in sleep
, though in the present tense, represents a time anterior to the time of
is found in Ecclus. 46:19. This is an explanation of the misunderstanding, occasioned, perhaps, by the statement of ver. 4, and further elucidated by what follows. A difference prevails between
as both words are used for sleep; but the former has rather the idea of the repose accompanying sleep, the latter the phenomenon itself. With one or two exceptions,
is always used in the New Testament of the sleep of death,
Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly
. Jesus spake at length (
) without metaphor (cf. ver. 11, note).
. when he told them two days ago that this sickness would not have death as its end - died in the sense in which they ordinarily used the word. When Jesus described the condition of Lazarus in figurative language, he made use of a metaphor which would have peculiar application in his ease. The grace of Christ will turn the death of his beloved throughout all time into restful sleep. Lazarus was part of the method by which this transformation would be effected. The Christian idea soon found far richer expression than classical poetry or rabbinism could supply (
1 Corinthians 15:6
1 Thessalonians 4:13
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
And I rejoice that I was not there
. Death could not have occurred in his presence; at least, as Bengel says, we never read of any one dying in the presence of the Prince of life. Whenever he came into contact with death, he conquered the great enemy. Still, this was not the absolute reason for his gladness. The gladness was conditioned by the need of the disciples, not merely for the comfort of the sisters, or for his own greater glory,
but for your sakes, to the end that ye might believe
. The word
is often used absolutely (
John 1:7, 50
John 4:41, 42
; and many other places). The disciples had believed something of Christ's power before (see
, etc.); but every act of faith prepares the way for another. Every fresh exercise of faith makes all previous efforts in the same direction appear elementary (cf.
1 John 5:13
, T.R.). The joy of Jesus in the augmenting faith of his disciples is one of the most pathetic and instructive features of this Gospel (see
, and notes). The kingdom of God among men was, so far as we can see, dependent on the amount of faith that the apostles could be induced to cherish in the fact of the Incarnation during the brief period of this ministry. The Church has not yet come to a full understanding of all that he was. But if the disciples had not known his power over death, they would have been destitute of the alphabet of this new language, of the foundations of the spiritual city they had to build. Jesus rejoiced when disciples believed. So he does still.
Nevertheless, let us go to him
- to Lazarus, who still lives with God (cf.
, and parallel passages). This is very remarkable. Even the dead body is in this case still (cf.
Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
, in Aramaic, is equivalent in meaning to the Greek name
, or "twin." This apostle is mentioned in the synoptic Gospels with Matthew, and in Acts (
) with Philip. He is classed with the fishermen (
), and may therefore have been a Galilaean. Ecclesiastical tradition has associated him with Judas (not Iscariot) (Eusebius, 'Hist. Eccl.,' 1:13), and with Judas the brother of Jesus. He is reputed to have preached ultimately in Parthia and India, there to have suffered martyrdom. The various references to him in this Gospel give, by a few vivid touches, a biography and characterization of singular congruity.
He said to his fellow-disciples
is only used in this place, and shows that the body of the disciples were being more and more blended into a unity),
Let us go, that we may die with him.
Here he manifests a fervent love to his Master, tinged with a sorrowful, melancholy temperament. He saw the danger to his Lord, but at once, with the spirit of self-surrender, was ready to share his fate. Moulton says these words reveal love, but they are "the language of despair and vanished hope. This is the end of all - death, not Messianic kingdom." Surely Thomas may have pondered much the Lord's words about his approaching death, and may have felt ready, along the same line, willingly to yield up his own life for his Master's or with his Master. Too much has been made of Thomas's skepticism and criticism. He was one who wanted visible, tangible evidence; but he was prepared to act impulsively, and to give powerful expression to his faith, whenever the evidence was granted. In
he was still in the dark, but it was not an evil darkness. How could he know, with the clearness which his mind naturally desiderated, whither our Lord was going? No brainless or heartless unbelief led him to ask, "How can we know the way?" At last (
, etc.), when he wanted ocular, personal, tangible evidence of the resurrection of Jesus, and absented himself in deep melancholy from the company of the eleven, it is clear that his soul was ready for the full manifestation. Before he could have put his finger into the print of the nails, he exclaimed, with adoring gratitude, "MY LORD AND MY GOD!" His hesitation and his conviction, with his superlative ecstatic cry, form the culminating point of the Gospel.
Then when Jesus came, he found that he had
in the grave four days already.
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
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
, 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.
Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
Verses 18, 19.
Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem
. This geographical observation is introduced to explain the following verse. Meyer and Alford think that the use of the past tense,
, may be perfectly justified in making reference to past events; yet, since John is the only New Testament writer who uses it, the usage may have been adopted by him because, at the time when he wrote his Gospel, Bethany had been for the time destroyed with Jerusalem itself. The construction is peculiar:
(compare a similar use of
; see Winer, p. 697, Eng. trans.). Many think that it is to be understood -
about fifteen stadia from it
- a kind of trajection of the preposition; but Winer thinks that it points to the spot where the fifteen stadia might be supposed to terminate,
. "lying off at the end of the fifteen stadia," and so giving an adverbial force to the preposition: and he adds a long list of similar constructions in later Greek writers. The stadium was 606.75 feet - less than the eighth of an English mile; the distance was therefore between a mile and a half and a mile and three quarters.
And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary.
"The Jews" is a phrase generally, not uniformly, used by John to denote those permanently hostile to our Lord, and often of the upper and ruling classes. These, therefore, had one more trial of faith, one further opportunity of recognizing his glory.
Many of them came
to Martha and Mary
. They came to comfort them, according to ordinary usage among the Jews after bereavement. This ceremony often lasted seven days. Concerning (their) brother. We cling to earthly love. The gush of strong affection that mourners lavish on the dead deepens their love to one another, and the praises of the departed often gild and almost pierce the veil itself. The fact that
Jews should have taken the trouble to journey nearly two miles to comfort the bereaved sisters shows that the family at Bethany was one of some wealth, position, and importance (cf.
). If so, it is exceedingly unlikely that the narrative stands in any relation to the parable of the rich man and the beggar.
And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat
in the house.
points back probably to ver. 1. The type of character so beautifully contrasted in the previous reference to the family at Bethany appears again, and confirms the historical character of
, etc., as well as of the narrative before us. Thoma says that this picture is "simply painted with synoptic color." Martha is the mistress of the house.
Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
Martha was a woman of impulse, energy, practical duty; like Peter, she was ready even to give advice to her Lord, and eager to put everybody in his rightful place. On the first opportunity she hastened at once to "meet" Jesus, even without at first warning her sister of his approach. Mary, contemplative, pensive, undemonstrative under ordinary circumstances, but with a great fund of love, was sitting in the house receiving the condolences of the Jews (cf. ver. 19). Weiss suggests that Jesus was well aware, from the station of the family, and from the fact that hitherto his own friendship for the sisters had not submitted
to the ban, that "many Jews" would have congregated in the house of mourning. Consequently, Jesus does not come straight to the house, but allows it to be known that he is there.
Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Martha therefore (having met her Lord) said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here
εἰ η΅ς ω΅δε
expresses no complaint: "If thou hadst been here," a simple condition of what is now an impossible event -
my brother had not died.
Meyer says, "If thou weft making thy residence in Bethany rather than in Peraea." This is somewhat unnatural, and would have been a complaint. Her faith had at least ground enough for this assurance, but she mounts above it. The two sisters, with their contrasted natures, had grasped the life-giving, joy-diffusing, heaven-revealing powers of Jesus. They had believed in him, with a gracious abandonment of all prejudice and in the sweeping force of a great illuminating love. They had said often this same thing to one another, and now Martha pours her high persuasion into the ears of her Lord; but she proceeds further.
But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give
And even now I know, that whatsoever thing thou shalt ask of God, God will give it thee.
may be contrasted with ver. 27. In his presence she knows intuitively that nothing is impossible. The
is a word of more human quality than that which our Lord customarily used for
appeals to God. He spoke of
, to seek as an equal;
intercede for another;
, to pray;
, to supplicate. It was appropriate enough that Martha should use the verb
. Her word was a burst of excited feeling, and does not dictate to the Master what he should do. Her twofold mention of the name of God with "thou" and "thee," shows that she had not risen to highest light on the Lord's mysterious relation to the Father. She speaks of him and to him as of a strangely gifted human Friend. But she had doubtless heard of the widow of Nain, and of Jairus's daughter, and she made no irrational suggestion. The
covers much. Jesus loved Lazarus. He was Friend to the whole group, and known to them all.
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again
. Hengstenberg thinks that the reply of Jesus is a grand dogmatic assertion of the resurrection of the dead, in special application to Lazarus, and it covers the kind of
which takes place at death, as well as the resurrection at the last day. If so, surely our Lord would have said, "Lazarus is risen again." The Lord does elsewhere speak of the dead as risen, and of their angelic state, and of all the dead living unto God; but he is here speaking of the immediate resurrection of Lazarus from what is called death to that which is called life, and which would be a pledge and type of the final resurrection of all.
Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Martha saith to him, I know
that he will rise again at the resurrection in the last day.
Some disappointment is revealed in this speech, such as we have all felt with the promise of an ultimate resurrection, when the grave has closed over some dear friend. We find small relief in the assurance. The old ties are snapped, the old ways are at an end. We shall go to the dead: he will not return to us. The last day is too far off to comfort us concerning our brother. That the answer of Martha is important as revealing belief in the resurrection at the last day; of which, however, it must be remembered those who had heard our Lord's own assertions about it could no longer have doubted (
John 6:39, 40, 44, 54
). The teachings of Jesus in this Gospel with reference to eternal life made the promise of resurrection, the transfiguration of the physical life of man, a necessity, not a contradiction. The reply of Martha shows that she does not as yet grasp the whole truth. "The last day" may be far nearer in her thought than we now know it to have been, or them it is to us; still, however near, it would imply a complete transformation of all these sweet human relationships. She longed to have the home as it was before Lazarus died. It is, however, of very great interest that we have, on the part of a Jew, this profound expectation of resurrection and immortality. Jews, or at least Pharisees, had derived from Old Testament thought - from Genesis, and from Job, and from the Psalter, from the Books of Daniel and Ezekiel, and from the progress of human thought as evinced in 'Wisdom of Solomon' - a great belief in both. Martha reveals incidentally the new light which had been cast on the mystery of the grave by the words and acts of Jesus.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Verses 25, 26.
Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection
. Not merely that God will give me what I ask, but that I am in some sense already his gift to man of
, inasmuch as
. (So Luthardt and Godet, but not Meyer, who makes
the positive result of
.) By taking humanity into his Person, Christ reveals the permanence of human individuality, that is, of such individuality as is in union with himself. He associates (
) "the Life" which he gives with" the Way" and "the Truth,"
. with the whole sum of human experience and of human meditation and speculation,
. with all the conduct of the will and the mind.
He that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live.
In these words he identifies the "life" with the transfiguration of the bodily life. The grand method of this blessed
is faith. The life which is the condition and ground of resurrection is the natural consequence of a faith which accepts Christ, and identifies itself with him. But "there are some who have believed, and have what you call died" -
though they die
they shall live
. In such cases, so-called "death" is veritable "life." The life of faith will survive the shock of death,
and whosoever liveth, and believeth on me, shall never die
- shall never taste of death (cf.
John 6:51, 8
:51). This is no new teaching for the more thoughtful of his hearers. There are multitudes now believing (and therefore living) in him. They shall
in the sense in which death has been hitherto regarded;
they shall by no means die forever
. Faith is eternal life: death is only a momentary shadow upon a life which is far better. Whether the corruption of the grave passes over the believer or not, he lives an eternal life, which has no element of death nor proclivity to death in it. So far the Lord is lifting Martha to a higher experience of life and a comparative in difference to death. Before he offers any further consolation, he probes to the quick her faith in him and in the eternal life.
Believest thou this?
thy belief?" not
; "Dost thou believe in my statement?" "Believest thou that the Resurrection which
can thus transform for thee the whole meaning of death?" The fullness of life after death is assured in virtue of the resurrection which Christ could effect at any moment, and will eventually effect for all. This
of which Christ speaks may be the life which is the consequence of the resurrection (
) of man effected in the Incarnation, or it may be the condition of "resurrection" and sufficient proof that, if a man receive it by faith, he is free' from all the curse of physical death, and assured of a perfect victory over it. So also the
εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα
may either mean "not forever," and thus the words may be taken to refer to the resurrection. "He will not forever die,"
. death may supervene, but will be conquered; or
may mean "never," "in no wise," and the "never die" may refer to spiritual death, overlooking physical death altogether. The whole narrative is a great parable of life through death.
And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
She saith unto him: Yea, Lord
. The reply admits the
; Many seem to think that Martha falls back on theocratic technicality after a high flight of faith, and leaves the solution of her deepest anxieties to the Lord.
I have believed
, not now for the first time,
that thou art the Christ
of all our highest hopes and of our prophetic Scriptures -
the Son of God
in the sense in which Nathanael, and the healed blind man, and the heroic Peter, and John the Baptist have regarded thee, not now dawning on the world as an unexpected apparition, but long since
awaited - even
he that cometh into the world, the Hope of all, in fact, the Resurrection and the Life because the Christ, and the Christ because the Son of God. In her great faith these deeper truths, just announced, are implicitly involved.
And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
When she had said this
she departed, and called Mary her sister secretly.
Observe the important emendation of text from
. When she had made this great utterance, her heart is big with hope. The grim shadow of death is now transparent to a heavenly light. She must share her hope with her sister. Jesus gave the commission to fetch Mary, as is obvious from the words of Martha which follow. The term "secretly" (
), when elsewhere used, precedes the verb with which it is associated, and therefore here it is joined with
to her, lest the hostile Jews should hear and intercept the interview.
(the Teacher) used absolutely (cf.
is here, and calleth for thee.
Sacred summons! Martha expected (as Euthymius suggested) that some blessing might come from his words.
As soon as she heard
, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
And she, as soon as she heard, arose
quickly, and went forth to
on the way to come to him - a
vivid touch conveyed by the change of tense which has been introduced into the text by the Revisers. The summons is met by prompt obedience, and we see it in immediate resolution and activity.
Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
Now Jesus was not yet come into the village, but was still
in that place where Martha met him.
At no great distance from the grave or from the village. The Lord probably sought to comfort the sisters apart from the crowd. Thus say most commentators. This is not in the text. If it were his purpose, it was frustrated. Hengstenberg thinks our Lord did not object to the crowds witnessing the miracle, but if so, it would be without any arrangement on his part.
The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
The Jews therefore who were with her in the house, and were comforting her
. If the "Jews" (see note, ver. 19) were comforting Mary, and (ver. 37) recognized his love in its Divine depths, and if (see ver. 45) (
) "many believed on him," and only (
) some of them (ver. 46) made the stupendous miracle a new occasion for expressing their inveterate malignity, there is no reason to import the element of hostility into the word
When they observed Mary, that she suddenly rose and
(of the house),
followed her, supposing that she goeth
to the grave to wail there
. This custom was followed widely in the East, and is still observed in Roman Catholic communities. The word
is to be carefully distinguished from
of ver. 35; it denotes the loud expressive wailing and manifestation of grief of which so many instances occur (
), while the latter word means the shedding of tears. "
is often the regulated expression of professional grief; "weeping" the irresistible burst of personal sorrow. The first may be violent and obtrusive, the other silent and pathetic.
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and when she saw him, fell at his feet,
and in other ways showed more intensity of feeling than did the energetic sister, who in many ways is the feminine type of what Peter was as a man. She is not altogether silent, but sobbed forth the very words which her sister had uttered before. Thus had they often said one to another while Lazarus was yet alive, "Oh that the Lord Jesus were here!"
, said she,
if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
The position of
, which in some manuscripts was placed before
is here emphatic, as though Mary had in some way especially claimed Lazarus as
brother more than Martha's. She does not add a word of remonstrance or suggestion. She moans forth the same confident expression of her sense of the love and power of Jesus.
When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,
struggle with death
When Jesus therefore saw her walling, and the Jews wailing who came with her, he was moved with indignation in the spirit, and troubled himself.
The sight of the wailing Mary and the wailing Jews, who took up her grief and, according to Oriental custom, adopted her expression of it with loud cries and emphatic gestures, praising the dead, and lamenting his loss, produced a most wonderful impression on the Lord Jesus. Meyer thinks that the contrast between their hypocritical or professional tears and her genuine emotion, the blending of these incongruous elements, the combination of a profound affliction of a dear friend and the simulated grief of his bitter enemies, led him to manifest the feeling here described. But we have no right to import such an element into the scene. The concerted wailing was, however, the occasion of what is described in very remarkable terms,
ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεύματι καὶ ἐτάραξεν
. The first expression occurs again in ver. 38. Westcott says in the three places where it elsewhere occurs (
) there is "the notion of coercion arising out of displeasure," a motion "towards another of anger rather than sorrow." The verb
and its compounds is used in the classics and the LXX. in the sense of hot anger, neither pain nor grief (though it is not very evident that it goes so far as this in
). Luther translated it
, and Passow gives no other meaning. This seems generally accepted. But at what was Jesus angered? This can be answered only by deciding whether
is the dative of the object, or whether it is the instrument or sphere of his holy indignation. According to the old Greek expositors, Origen, Chrysostom, Cyril, Theophylact - and they are followed by Alford and Hilgenfeld, the latter of whom finds in it a hint of the Gnostic Christology which, in his opinion, pervades the Gospel - the anger might have been directed against his own human spirit, at that moment tempted into an unfilial strain of sympathy with the mourners; yet, if this be its meaning, why was it that Jesus subsequently wept himself? and why, instead of exciting himself, instead of shuddering with his bitterness of feeling, did he not (as Hengstenberg says) compose and quiet himself? Beside,
would have been a far more appropriate term to use for the effective and sympathetic part of his nature than
. It is possible, if "the spirit"
that part of his human nature in special fellowship with the Father, to suppose that he felt a certain antagonism with that within himself which had prompted to some immediate manifestation of Divine power, and to translate, "
sternly checked his spirit." But the miracle of Divine struggle with death followed so immediately that this cannot be the true explanation (Westcott suggests it as an alternative, but not the best interpretation). The
, must be the sphere of his holy wrath, for which we must find some explanation. Meyer's seems (as already said) to be altogether insufficient. So also in our opinion is that of Godet, viz. that this act of victorious conflict with death, on which he was entering, involved his own death-warrant by being the occasion of the last outbreak of malice on the part of the Jews. Such a fact would be out of harmony, not only with the Fourth Gospel, but with the (synoptic) struggle in Gethsemane. Now, without enumerating various other interpretations of the passage, we think Augustine, Erasmus, Luthardt, Hengstenberg, Moulton, meet our difficulty by the suggestion that death itself occasioned this indignation. Though, like the good Physician in the house of mourning, he knew the issue of his mighty act, yet he entered with vivid and intense human sympathy into all the primary and secondary sorrows of death. He saw the long procession of mourners from the first to the last, all the reckless agony, all the hopelessness of it, in thousands of millions of instances. There flashed upon his spirit all the terrible moral consequences of which death was the ghastly symbol. lie knew that within a short time he too, in taking upon himself the sins of men, would have taken upon himself their death, and there was enough to rouse in his spirit a Divine indignation, and he groaned and shuddered. He roused himself to a conflict which would be a prelibation of the cross and the burial. He took the diseases of men upon himself when he took them away. He took the death-agony of Lazarus and the humiliation of the grave and the tears of the sisters upon himself when he resolved to cry, "Lazarus, come forth!" and to snatch from the grasp of the grim conqueror for a little while one of his victims. Compare the toil of Hercules in wrestling with death for the wife of Admetus. Compare also
, where moral proximity to the treacherous heart and ghastly deed and approaching doom of Judas made him once more to shudder.
And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
And he said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see.
A strange echo of
Revelation 6:1, 5, 7
) - Christ asking for information. The Lord was answered out of his own words. His mind was made up.
. The shortest verse, but one of the most suggestive in the entire Scripture. The great wrath against death is subdued now into
of love, of sympathy, and of deep emotion. Jesus shed tears of sympathetic sorrow. This is in sacred and eternal refutation of the theory which deprives the incarnate Logos of St. John of human heart and spirit. These tears have been for all the ages a grand testimony to the fullness of his humanity, and also a Diving revelation of the very heart of God (see
). It was not a
, as the weeping over Jerusalem (
), but profound and wondrous fellow-feeling with human misery in all its forms, then imaged before him in the grave of Lazarus. It is akin to the judicial blindness which has obscured for the Tübingen school so much of the glory of Divine revelation, that Baur should regard this weeping of Jesus as unhistorical.
Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!
Verses 36, 37.
The Jews therefore said, Behold how he loved him! But some of them said, Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that this man also should not die?
The effect upon the
differs here, as always; but if (
, ver. 45) many were favorably impressed, we may believe here that the
said one to another with genuine emotion, "Behold how he loved him!" (
). Tears are often the expression of love as well as grief. Hengstenberg sees in the cry of the better class of these Jews, "How has he then let him die?" probably he could not have helped him if he would. In the language of the other Jews there was the suggestion of inability, and the ironical hint that the cure of the blind man, which had created so great a commotion, was only a delusion. Perhaps, too, a covert expectation of some further display of wonder-working power. Strauss regards it as unhistorical that the previous restorations from the dead should not be cited. But surely, when John wrote this Gospel, the story of the widow's son and of Jairus's daughter was known throughout the world. And if, in the middle of the second century, this Gospel had been written by a speculative theologian, who deliberately set himself to concoct such a narrative as this, with the view of completing the picture of the Vanquisher of Hades, he
most certainly have cited the Galilaean miracles. John, however, is merely recording his own experiences. These
at that time may never have heard of either Nain or the daughter of Jairus, and spoke merely of that which was within their own recollection and experience. As they stand here, these words are striking testimony to their historical validity. The Gospel which most unequivocally establishes the claim of our Lord to a Divine Personality or subsistence, is more explicit than any of them in asserting his pure humanity, and giving proofs of it.
And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?
Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
Jesus therefore again moved with indignation within himself.
) "in himself" is not so forcible an expression as "shuddering in his spirit (ver. 33), but it implies a continuity of grand, holy indignation against the anomaly of death, from which the human family and he as its Representative were suffering (cf. ver. 33).
He cometh to the grave.
or) tomb is forthwith described as (
) a den, cavern, or cave, from
, of which, partly natural, partly artificial, abundant use was made in the East.
A stone lay
; or, over
. either closing it up as a pit, or closing the mouth of it, by being rolled along a ledge horizontal with the base of the excavation. The former kind of cave is shown at Bethany, but no dependence can be placed on the tradition. (Cf. the account of our Lord's own tomb, to which a stone was roiled,
Mark 16:3, 4
; cf. also Thomson, 'The Land and the Book,' pp. 101-108; and art. "Burial," in Smith's 'Dictionary.') The tomb of Joseph was that of a rich man, and all these circumstances show opulence, rather than the beggary and rags of the Lazarus of the parable.
Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been
Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone
has rather the idea of "lift" than "roll away;" it is used for "take," "take away," "carry as a burden."
Martha, the sister of him that was dead,
said unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been four days here
. Martha's language is another singular illustration of the desire on her part to give a certain kind of advice and direction to our Lord, as though he might be the wiser and bettor for her monitions. The characterization of her as "the sister of the dead" man is not needed for identification, but rather to explain or justify her intrusion upon the solemn, stately direction of the Lord. She shrank from such an exposure of the body of her beloved brother, as an unnecessary act, since he was only to rise at the last day, or to be regarded
his faith in Christ before his death as having already passed from death and through death into a new life. She must have relinquished at that moment all hope of resurrection of the body of Lazarus there and then:
, "he already stinketh." This is explained by many of the Fathers as proof that our Lord not only raised from death-swoon Jairus's daughter, and the young man on his way to burial, but also a putrefying corpse; thus giving three symbols of the effects of sin:
a young life blighted;
a man's energies dissipated and his condition apparently hopeless; and
a type also of one dead in trespasses and sins (Trench on the Miracles) - one whose habits of trespass and bondage to evil seem to forbid all renewal. Godet thinks that Martha had special reasons for such a speech. Others, that all that we have here is the
of Martha, and that it must be so. She puts one more arrest, as it would seem, upon the free act and love of Jesus. This seems quite sufficient to account for the use of the word. It would seem that, for some reason, the body had not been fully embalmed, or she would not have used the expression. Still, all had been done with spices and perfumes that was intended. The Tübingen criticism eagerly lays hold on this point, as proof that the fourth evangelist intended by such a touch to exalt and exaggerate the wonder-working power of Christ. There is no need whatever to see in it more than Martha's sisterly love getting the better of her submission to her Master's order.
Τετερταῖος γάρ ἐστι
, "For he is of the fourth day (dead) (buried)." On the fourth day the countenance changes, and, as the Jewish proverb urged, the spirit takes its flight from the sepulcher, and no longer hovers over the departed form.
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldst see the glory of God?
This was a probable reference to the language of ver. 4, and also to the teaching of vers. 25, 26, where our Lord had encouraged her imperfect faith in himself to become a veritable vision of Divine glory. Out of the deepest humiliation comes the highest glory, The putrefaction of the grave is a stepping-stone to his throne. More is meant than the physical resurrection of Lazarus. She would or might by faith see the glory of Divine power and love which would, by what was about to happen, dawn upon her. Christ was going to prove to faith that he could and would destroy the power of death, rob him of sting, swallow up the grave in victory, and proclaim the everlasting curse of this mysterious flesh of ours to be a vanquished foe.
Then they took away the stone
from the place
where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up
eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
- Then they took away the stone [ from the place where the dead was laid]. They lifted the stone, and
Jesus lifted up his eyes
. This is not to be taken as an ordinary prayer, but a thanksgiving for prayer already heard. "Jesus lifted up his eyes,"
. to heaven - to that sublime symbol of the infinite activity of God, which surrounds us day and night, and which is in numerous religious systems made a type and image of the Divine Being himself; nor does our modern conception of the universe dethrone it from this high place. Christ's language is thanksgiving that God has already heard him. Godet and Hengstenberg say that Jesus thanked God in anticipation of the miracle, as though it were already done. Meyer and Alford look back to some earlier prayers. But surely there is some reason for the thanksgiving. The stone is
; there lies the corpse, but no dank sepulchral vapor issues from it; rather some sign is given that prayer offered by Christ had been already heard, and that death has not made the havoc with the frame which would otherwise have occurred.
Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me
. When he uttered the prayer we cannot say; but we know that his mind was greatly exercised concerning his friend before he left Peraea. His words confess that his wishes have been in harmony with the Divine eternal will. So elsewhere the Lord tells his disciples, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you;"
. "your desires will be in harmony with the Divine purpose; you will not be able to pray for anything either temporal or spiritual which God will not bestow, has not indeed prepared himself to bestow and you to receive." This is the true mystery and meaning of prayer. The hypothesis of the twofold nature of Christ, instead of being shipwrecked on the fact of his prayers and intercessions, throws light on the very nature of prayer itself.
And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said
, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.
And I knew that thou hearest me always, but because of the multitude which standeth around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me.
This great utterance declares all the intimate relation which subsists between the Father of all and the Son in Jesus. A continuous absolute communion is ever going on between heaven and earth in the heart of Jesus. His consciousness of the Father is a door opened in heaven. Alas! these words have been a stumbling-block to many; have suggested to Baur the idea of a "show-prayer," and to Weisse a "deceptive prayer" (
), and to Strauss that they were introduced into a later but in-authentic narrative of the second century to establish the Divinity of Christ. The simple fact is that the words are not "petition" at all, but they are spoken thought and Divine communion, graciously unveiled for the advantage of the disciples. They are built upon the wonderful assurance which had been repeatedly given by our Lord of his union with and association in unique Personality with the Father. We see from
that the profound desire occupying the heart of Jesus was that his disciples, first of all, should know that he came out from God, and almost with pathetic eagerness he asks them, "Do ye now believe?" But in
he shows that his wishes were not limited to the faith of disciples, but extended to the production of a like conviction in the
. Here he says, after a pause, "I know that thou art hearing me always." There is no surprise in the discovery that Lazarus was as he really is. Christ's own prayers are always heard, even those in Gethsemane and on the cross (cf.
ἀπὸ τῆς εὐλαβείας
I said it for the multitude that standeth around
. The use of
reveals the genuine language of our Lord rather than that of the evangelist. To what does he refer, what saying has he uttered for the sake of this miscellaneous group? Surely to the great declaration, "I thank thee that thou heardest me." His reason for the audible utterance of his gratitude is, "That they may believe that thou didst send me." If he had
uttered this thanksgiving, the multitude would have glorified
rather than his Father, nor would they have learned, as now they may, that he came forth from God.
And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
And when he had thus spoken, he cried with loud voice.
is used of the shout of a multitude (
, R.T.; John 18:40; 19:6, 15), and implies the loud, imperative command to Death to give up his prey, and relinquish the grasp which had, in answer to his prayer, been already relaxed. The loud voice keeps up the image that death is a deep sleep. The critical moment in Christ's own career has arrived, when, having pledged the rather to this manifestation of his own glory, he was prepared to take this final step, however perilous to himself; one which would finally demonstrate whether he was sent from God, or was merely boasting a power he did not possess (cf. Elijah and the priests of Baal,
1 Kings 18
.). Observe the loud voice,
Lazarus, come forth
! or, (
(Origen, Chrysostom, Lampe, suggest
the awakening from death had already taken place. Meyer and Alford condemn this. It seems to me that this supposition. somewhat modified as above, throws light upon vers. 41, 42.) The words themselves are applicable to a grave from which the stone door had been removed. Weiss has made some admirable remarks on the use made by the Tübingen critics of this admission. In many cases in which such miracles took place the soul had obviously not left the body, but yet the entire surroundings here imply that, apart from miraculous energy, resuscitation was absolutely un-looked for. Even Strauss refuses utterly the trance hypothesis, and Renan has renounced the farcical drama that he thought at one time might account for the event and its record.
And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
(had died and)
(up to that time)
dead, came out
(of the grave),
bound feet and hands with grave-bands
. The swathing of the limbs after the Egyptian fashion, each limb separately, renders the action most natural, because
is used. Lazarus did not simply stand in his grave. The early commentators and Stier saw in this emergence of the swathed Lazarus an additional miracle, just as they augmented the force of the supposition involved in the
, into the fact that our Lord raised from death a putrefy-tug corpse. Both suppositions would be unnecessary adjuncts of the proof of the glory of God and power of Christ. Lucke and others refer to the habit of swathing separate limbs, but in such a way as not to impede motion if the person thus swathed desired it. Meyer and Godet see no necessity for the suggestion of the early writers. Kuinoel thinks that
was used of the mere struggle of the swathed body to escape. The above supposition is the most probable. So Westcott. (
of the New Testament, is used of girdle or bandage.)
And his face was bound about with a napkin
. The surrounding of the face with a
is the touch of an eyewitness.
Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and suffer him to depart
; the part which bystanders might perform; this was the wise advice of Friend and Teacher. (For similar injunctions of a physical and practical kind on other occasions, see
and Luke 8:55.) The majestic miracle is no further pressed by the evangelist, but left to tell its own sublime meaning, which in the multiplicity of exegetical hypotheses we are in danger of missing.
"Behold a man raised up by Christ.
The rest remaineth unrevealed -
He told it not; or something sealed
The lips of that evangelist."
Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.
The effect of the miracle
the multitude and on the authorities
Their final resolve
and its bearing upon the great sacrifice of Calvary
Verses 45, 46.
Many therefore of the Jews which came to Mary, and beheld that
did, believed on him; but certain of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done.
. Here Mary is named alone, as
sister who was most deeply afflicted by the death of Lazarus, and most in need of friendly consolation (cf. also
). This clause may be read so as to include those who went to communicate the startling intelligence to the Pharisees among the
of the Jews who went to comfort Mary and who "believed;" on the ground that
is in apposition with
, not (according to the text of D,
. This, however, would imply that all of them believed, and that the
went to the Pharisees with no hostile intent (Meyer); but why should not
refer to the
, implying another set not of the friends of Mary (Godet)? The remark would then be in harmony with the fact to which the evangelist continually calls attention, that Christ's miracles and words produced a twofold effect, and made a frequent division among the Jews, thus bringing to light who were and who were not his true disciples. The same facts excited faith in some and roused animosity in others. The great sign has been dividing men into hostile camps ever since. As Browning's Arab physician said-
"'Tis well to keep back nothing of a case.
This man (Lazarus) so cured regards the Curer then
As - God forgive me - who but God himself,
Creator and Sustainer of the world,
That came and dwelt in flesh on it awhile...
The very God! Think, Abib; dost thou think?
So the All-great were the All-loving too;
So through the thunder comes a human voice,
Saying, 'O heart I maple, a heart beats here!
Face, my hands fashioned, see it in myself.'"
But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
- The chief priests and Pharisees therefore gathered a council
. If a formal meeting of the great council, if "the Sanhedrin," had been summoned, the article would have been used. (On the Sanhedrin, see Winer, art. "Sanhedrin," in his 'Bib. R. Wort.;' Lange,
.; Edersheim, vol. 2:553, etc. This name is Greek (though Hebraized in the Talmud), and signifies the supreme court of the people, resident in Jerusalem, consisting of seventy-one members, with a president,
, and a vice-president,
.) Extraordinary sessions of the Sanhedrin were called at the house of the high priest, but ordinary sessions in some rooms adjoining the temple. The points submitted to their cognizance were hierarchical and religious. They had at this time lost their actual power of inflicting capital punishment. They were a court of appeal from lower courts in the province, framed after the same model. Pharisees and Sadducees were alike to be found in their number. The family of Annas, his sons, and his son-in-law Caiaphas, were all Sadducees, and embraced the priestly part of the assembly. They were the most deadly enemies of Christ throughout. The Pharisees are scarcely again mentioned in the account of the Passion. The priestly Sadducean party became also bitter enemies of Christianity and of the Church during apostolic times. Here they take the initiative.
And they said, What are we about? because this Man
(as we must admit)
doing many signs
, which will produce a perilous effect among the people. There were certain aspects and views both of the Pharisaic and Sadducean party with which our Lord's teaching coincided. When he denounced ritualism, literalism, and tradition, and laid emphasis on moral law, he had to some extent the ear of the Sadducees; when he cleansed the temple of the priestly bazaar, when he rebuked the secular conceptions of Messianic glory, the Pharisees inwardly rejoiced. Nevertheless, they had both too many g-rounds of criticism and dislike not to combine against him. The council of the nation found it a delicate and difficult task to frame charges in which the entire authorities of the nation and the popular clamor could coincide.
If we let him thus alone, all
will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
If we let him alone thus,
as we have been doing hitherto - if we suffer him to do these things -
all men will believe on him, and the Romans will come and take away
. from the Sanhedrin, from the lawful rulers in all matters affecting religious order or privilege,
- the city or temple -
and the nation
, which we rule through our subordinates and surrogates, but to accomplish which we shall prove our incompetence if we cannot keep down all insubordination and hold perilous enthusiasm in check. De Wette and Hengstenberg strongly urge that by
was meant the temple, "the dwelling-place and seat of the whole people" (
). Ewald, Godet, Meyer, Watkins, consider
to be the city, the seat of all the power of the nation, spiritual and civil. The nation was a province of the Roman empire, but the hierarchy was still invested with great powers.
And one of them,
Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
But a certain one of them
Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all
. Among the divided interests and irresolute fears of the Pharisees, who had not made up their minds as to the right course to pursue, "one of them,"
the council, a man of firm will and hectoring disposition, had a clear though devilish purpose of political expediency, and a stern resolve, if he could, to repress the inconvenient manifestation of religious earnest-
ness - Caiaphas
. We know that Annas is spoken of as
John 18:15, 19
. And Annas and Caiaphas are both said to be "high priests" (
Annas is spoken of as high priest, Caiaphas being associated with "John and Alexander." This becomes more comprehensible when we learn from Josephus ('Ant.,' 18:02. 2 and 4. 3) that Valerius Gratus (in the year A.D. ) had deprived Annas (or Hanan, Ananias, Ananas) of the office, "when he had held it for seven years." So great, however, was the influence of Annas, that, either to consult his temper or that of the people, who would consider him the legal high priest, the office was conferred upon members of his family in succession, first on Ishmael, then on Eleazer the son of Ishmael, then on Simon his son, and finally on Joseph Caiaphas (who is declared by St. John (
) to be the son-in-law of Annas, thus explaining his appointment on the one hand, and the continued influence on the other of the unscrupulous Annas, who was high priest de
). Joseph Caiaphas held the office from A.D. to A.D. , and thus throughout the ministry of Jesus. The apostle's remark (repeated
) that he was "high priest that same year" has been set down by Strauss, Scholton, and others to ignorance on the part of the writer of the Hebrew law of the priesthood. This is excessively improbable, even with a late author of the second century, who evidently knew as much concerning Judaea and its history as the author of the Fourth Gospel did indubitably possess. It is enough that the evangelist singles out "that memorable year" (Lucke, Meyer and Lunge, etc.) of the death of Christ; and remarks on the man who was holding the position at this solemn time, with obvious reference to the fact that now for many years the functions of the high priest were discharged only at the pleasure of the Roman governor, who might, as Caiaphas himself said, abolish the office altogether if he chose arbitrarily to do so. The first words of Caiaphas, "Ye know nothing at all," are brusque, rough, imperious, but are quite akin to what we know elsewhere of the manners of the man (Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:08. 14), and of the aristocratic clique of which he was the head.
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
; or, nor
do ye take account
. Hengstenberg shows that where this verb (
) elsewhere occurs, it is used intransitively, and with this Godet agrees; then they take
, as "because" or
for it is expedient for you
is preferred by Meyer, Godet, Westcott and Herr, and the Revised. The chief difference in thought is that it makes the language somewhat more dogmatic, Caiaphas hardly classing himself for the moment with such irresolute companions)
that one man should die for
("on behalf of" amounting to "instead of")
- i.e. for the theocratic organization, whose were the promises, to whom was given the dominion-
and not that the entire nation
(the political aggregation)
. Some have supposed (like Lange) Divine purpose lurking in the
; but it was rather the maxim of worldly expediency of half-paganized superstition allied in this form to the sacrifice of Codrus, or of Iphigenia, viz. that the extinction of guiltless and innocent victims may be demanded by political necessity, and must be determined upon at once, by the chief court of equity and criminal judicature in the nation. If, thought he, the multitudes accept this Sabbath-breaker, this Worker of miracles, this religious Enthusiast, this moral Reformer, for their Messiah, the Romans will crush the movement, will stamp out the entire religious order; "we" shall be annihilated as a power, the "nation" will be abolished as such. It is more expedient that this one man should suffer than that the whole of our position should be sacrificed.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
Verses 51, 52.
- The evangelist discerned the presence of a deeper meaning in his words not intended by himself. As Balaam and Nebuchadnezzar and even Pharaoh had uttered unconscious or unwilling prophecies, and as in all genuine prophecies there are
by God beyond what the utterer of them at all conceived possible. So here.
This he spake not from himself: but being high priest that awful, critical year, he prophesied
. The high priest was believed in ancient times to have the power of drawing from Urim and Thummim the Divine decisions as to future events (
, and Caiaphas, as priest-prophet, may thus have conveyed an awful and sublime truth through base and evil dispositions. Curious instances occur elsewhere (
John 7:27, 35
): "He saved others; himself he cannot save!" (
); when the people said, "His blood be upon us" (
); when Pilate, by unconscious prophecy, ironically declared him to be "King of the Jews" (
). Wunsche quotes a curious case of unconscious prophecy, which the rabbinical writers attributed to Pharaoh's daughter, when she forecast the future legislator in the infant derelict. The substance of the prophetic word extracted from his saying was that
Jesus should die for the nation.
could not have spoken other than of the
." When John wrote, the difference between the
had vanished away. Israel had become an
, like the rest.
And not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one
the children of God scattered abroad
- constitute a new center, life-giving and sacred in the covenant of his blood (cf.
1 John 2:2
, a very remarkable parallelism). Who are the
τέκνα τοῦ Θεοῦ
? According to some, the dispersed Israelites, but surely the passage corresponds with the "other sheep," of
, and refers to all who enter by living faith in
into the full realization of the Divine Fatherhood (see
) and their own sonship. Christ is the true Union of Jew and Gentile.
And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.
Therefore from that clay they took counsel
to slay him
shows that the advice of Caiaphas was followed, and whereas before this, minor courts and synagogues had plotted the ruin of Jesus, and they themselves had excommunicated his followers (
.), yet, after this evil counsel, they deliberated on the surest and safest way of
him. The sentence had gone forth. They bound themselves to secure his arrest for this purpose. Some of their number, a small minority, including Joseph of Arimathaea, disapproved of this counsel, and withdrew from their society (
), but the majority overruled the dissidents. This is the very climax of their perversity. They have resolved on the death-penalty. The sentence has been recorded against the Holiest. Priesthood and prophecy have pronounced their final verdict. They have extinguished themselves. Nevertheless, that which proved the occasion of their malice became a further proof of his Divine goodness and superhuman claims.
Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.
- This constituted the close of his earthly ministry after his ordinary method.
Jesus therefore walked
no more openly
mong the Jews; but he deputed thence into the country nigh unto the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim
. Westcott says the place is mentioned in connection with Bethel (
2 Chronicles 13:19
). Not far from Bethel, on the border between Benjamin and Ephraim, is
a conical hill with a village perched aloft, which Robinson ('Bibl. Res.,' 2:127) and Stanley ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 210) identify with this Ephraim. In this form the word does not appear in the Old Testament, but Ensebius and Jerome make it twelve miles from Jerusalem, on the east of the road leading to Sichem; and Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 4:09.9) speaks of "two little towns of Bethela and Ephraim, through which Vespasian passed and left garrisons." Hengstenberg identifies it with "Baal-hazor, which is by Ephraim" (
2 Samuel 13:23
). The maps of Van der Welt and of the Palestine Exploration Society place it on the site of Ephraim, Ephron (
2 Chronicles 13:19
), or Ophrah (
), about seven miles north-east from Bethel, and give as second designation Apharaim. The intelligence must have reached our Lord that the Sanhedrin had formally pronounced sentence against him. This may have induced him to retire from Jerusalem until the next great feast, when he would publicly challenge their allegiance. From this neighborhood our Lord could (as we learn from the synoptists) have easily joined the caravan from Persea, which, after crossing Jordan near Jericho, there set its face towards Jerusalem, or the caravan which may have come through Samaria to Bethel.
There he abode a
with the disciples
(says Godet) is not synonymous with
, but equivalent to - he confined himself in the desert region north-east of Jerusalem to the company of the twelve.
And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover, that they might purify themselves
meant "from the country" generally. Though the Law did not specifically recommend purification "before the Passover," yet the general principle of ceremonial cleansings had been applied to the Feast of the Passover (see
2 Chronicles 30:16-20
). The time required varied from one to six days (
Exodus 19:10, 11
Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
They sought therefore for Jesus, and said one with another, as they stood in the temple
. Their excitement augmented from day to day; they dreaded and hoped for the final conflict. Not being aware of his retreat, not caring, perhaps, to dispatch him by hired assassins, they determined in the most public way, on a great platform, to complete the deep damnation of his taking off, little forecasting their eternal infamy. They were in continual search for Jesus, and spake in excited groups when they met, asking one another eager questions when they stood in the temple. The evangelist has witnessed the scene; these are two inquiries mentioned:
What think ye
Think ye that he will not come to the feast?
The aorist subjunctive is used here in the sense of an event in the future which when effected will be a completed act; so that the statement gives a reason for the excitement among the people.
Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew
, that they might take him.
Now the chief priests and Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any one knew where he was, he should indicate it, that they might take him
. This would not have been a difficult task. Jesus and twelve men could hardly have been hidden from their spies. The country people must have been faithful to him, and the edicts were issued rather to intimidate the people than to secure the immediate end; but they were quite sufficient to excite the inquiries of Galilaeans and others who had gone to Jerusalem for the main purpose of seeing him. The interdict had been aimed probably at the family of Bethany, which was clearly one of some consequence, or against any household in Jerusalem which should harbor him. It may have been the occasion which stirred the devilish spirit in the mind of Judas. So long as Jesus was surrounded with an enthusiastic crowd, they dared not seize his person. They resolved on secrecy, but were bent on public humiliation.
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