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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

John 11

 

 

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Verse 1

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.

It was stated at the close of the former chapter that our Lord, eluding the fury of His Pharisaic adversaries in Jerusalem, "went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized, and there abode" (John 10:39-40). The place was probably somewhere about the well-known fords of the Jordan, and not far from Jericho, which was about eighteen miles distant from Jerusalem. Here we now find Him when intelligence reached Him regarding Lazarus.

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of [or, 'from' apo (G575)] Bethany (see the note at Luke 19:29), 'of [ ek (Greek #1537)]

The town of Mary and her sister Martha - thus distinguishing this Bethany from the one "beyond Jordan" above referred to.


Verse 2

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)

(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) The fact here referred to, though not recorded by our Evangelist until John 12:3, etc., was so well known in the teaching of all the churches, according to our Lord's prediction (see the note at Mark 14:9), that it is here alluded to by anticipation, as the most natural way of identifying her; and Mary is first named, though the younger, as the more distinguished of the two. She "anointed THE LORD," says the Evangelist-led doubtless to the use of this term here, as He was about to exhibit Him illustriously as the Lord of Life.


Verse 3

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. A most womanly appeal to the known affection of her Lord for the patient; yet how reverential! 'Those,' says Trench, 'whom Christ loves, are no more exempt than others from their share of earthly trouble and anguish; rather are they bound over to it more surely.'


Verse 4

When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

When [`But when' de (G1161)] Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might (or 'may') be glorified thereby , [ di' (Greek #1223) autees (Greek #846)] - that is, by this "glory of God." Remarkable language this, which from creature lips would have been intolerable. It means that the glory of GOD manifested in the resurrection of the dead Lazarus would be shown to be the glory, personally and immediately, of THE SON.


Verse 5

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. What a picture! one that in every age has attracted the admiration of the whole Christian Church. No wonder that those sceptics who have so pitifully carped at the ethical system of the Gospel, as not embracing private friendships in the list of its virtues, have been referred to the Saviour's special regard for this family, as a triumphant refutation-if such were needed.


Verse 6

When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.

When he had heard [`When he heard' eekousen (G191)] therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still - rather, 'then [ tote (Greek #5119)] he abode two days'

In the [same] place where he was. Beyond all doubt this was just to let things come to their worst, in order to the display of His glory. But how trying, meantime, to the faith of his friends, and how unlike the way in which love to a dying friend usually shows itself, on which it is plain that Mary reckoned. But the ways of divine are not as the ways of human love. Often they are the reverse. When His people are sick, in body or spirit, when their case is waxing more and more desperate every day, when all hope of recovery is about to expire-just then and therefore it is that "He abides two days still in the same place where He is." Can they still hope against hope? Often they do not; but "this is their infirmity." For it is His chosen style of acting. We have been well taught it, and should not now have the lesson to learn. From the days of Moses was it given sublimely forth as the character of His grandest interpositions, that "the Lord will judge His people, and repent Himself for His servants-when He seeth that their power is gone" (Deuteronomy 32:36).


Verse 7

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.

Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again - out of Peraea where He now was.


Verse 8

His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?

His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought , [ nun (Greek #3568) ezeetoun (Greek #2212), rather, 'were but now seeking'] to stone thee (see John 10:31); and goest thou there again?}-to certain death, as John 11:16 shows they thought.


Verse 9

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 any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.


Verse 10

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 , [ to (Greek #3588) foos (Greek #5457) ouk (Greek #3756) estoo (Greek #2077) en (Greek #1722) autoo (Greek #846)] - or 'because the light is not in him.' See the note at John 9:4. Our Lord's day had now reached its eleventh hour, and having until now "walked in the day," He would not mis-time the remaining and more critical part of His work, which would be as fatal, He says, as omitting it altogether; because "if a man" - so He speaks, putting Himself under the same great law of duty as all other men-if a man "walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him."


Verse 11

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 said he: and after that he saith, Our friend Lazarus - illustrious title from such Lips! To Abraham only did the Lord under the Old Testament accord this, and not until hundreds of years after his death (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8); to which, as something very unusual, our attention is called in the New Testament (James 2:23). When Jesus came in the flesh, His forerunner applied this name, in a certain official sense, to himself (John 3:29); and into the same fellowship the Lord's chosen disciples are declared to have come (John 15:13-15). Lampe well remarks that the phrase here employed - "our friend Lazarus" - means more than "he whom Thou lovest" (John 11:3); because it implies that Christ's affection was reciprocated by Lazarus. Sleepeth , [ kekoimeetai (Greek #2837)] - or 'has fallen asleep;' but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Our Lord had been told only that Lazarus was "sick." But the change which his two days' delay had produced is here tenderly alluded to. Doubtless, His heart was all the while with His dying, and now dead "friend." The symbol of "sleep" for death is common to all languages, and familiar to us in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, however, a higher meaning is put into it, in relation to believers in Jesus (see the note at 1 Thessalonians 4:14) - a sense hinted at, and pretty clearly too, in Psalms 17:15, as Luthardt remarks; and the "awaking out of sleep" acquires a corresponding sense far transcending bare resuscitation.


Verse 12

Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well , [ sootheesetai (Greek #4982)] - literally, 'be saved' or 'preserved'-that is, 'shall recover:' and if so, why run the risk of going to Judea?


Verse 13

Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.


Verse 14

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 'In the language of heaven,' says Bengel beautifully, 'sleep is the death of the saints; but this language the disciples here understood not. Incomparable is the generosity of the divine manner of discoursing; but such is the slowness of men's apprehension that Scripture often has to descend to the more miserable style of human discourse. (See Matthew 16:11, etc.)


Verse 15

And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto 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 am glad for your sakes that I was not there. This, as is finely remarked by Luthardt, certainly implies that if He had been present, Lazarus would not have died; not because He could not have resisted the importunities of the sisters, but because, in presence of the personal Life, death could not have reached His friend. And Bengel again makes this exquisite remark, that it is beautifully congruous to the divine decorum that in presence of the Prince of Life no one is ever said to have died.

To the intent ye may believe. This is added to explain His "gladness" at not having been present. His friend's death, as such, could not have been to Him "joyous;" the sequel shows it was "grievous;" but "for them it was safe" (Philippians 3:1).


Verse 16

Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Then said Thomas, called Didymus - or 'the twin.'

Let us also go, that we may die with him. Lovely spirit, though tinged with some sadness, such as re-appears at John 14:5, showing the tendency of this disciple to take the dark view of things. On a memorable occasion this tendency opened the door to downright, though but momentary, unbelief. (John 20:25.) Here, however, though alleged by many interpreters, there is nothing of the sort. He perceives clearly how this journey to Judea will end, as respects His Master, and not only sees in it peril to themselves, as they all did, but feels as if he could not and cared not to survive His Master's sacrifice to the fury of His enemies. It was that kind of affection which, living only in the light of its object, cannot contemplate, or has no heart for, life without it.


Verse 17

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days. If he died on the day that the tidings came of his illness; if he was, according to the Jewish custom, buried the same day (see the note at Luke 7:12; and Acts 5:5-6; Acts 5:10); and if Jesus, after two days' further stay in Peraea, set out on the day following for Bethany (some ten hours' journey) - that would make out the four days, the first and last being incomplete. (So Meyer.)


Verse 18

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs - rather less than two miles: this is mentioned to explain the visits of sympathy, noticed in the following words, which the proximity of the two places facilitated.


Verse 19

And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

And many of the Jews came , [ eleelutheisan (Greek #2064) rather, 'had come'] to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.} Thus were provided, in a most natural way, so many witnesses of the glorious miracle that was to follow as to put the fact beyond possible question.


Verse 20

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him - true to the energy and activity of her character, as seen in the beautiful scene recorded by Luke (Luke 10:38-42 - on which see exposition).

But Mary sat [still] in the house , [ ekathezeto (Greek #2516)] - literally, 'was sitting in the house;' equally true to her placid, still character. These undesigned touches charmingly illustrate, not only the minute historic fidelity of both narratives, but their inner harmony.


Verse 21

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Since Mary afterward said the same thing (John 11:32), it is plain they had made this very natural remark to each other, perhaps many times during these four sad days, and not without having their confidence in His love at times overclouded. Such trials of faith, however, are not special to them.


Verse 22

But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

But I know, that even now, [ alla (G235) kai (G2532) nun (G3568) oida (G1492), 'Nevertheless, even now, I know'] whatsoever thou wilt ('shalt') ask of God. Energetic characters are usually sanguine, the rainbow of hope peering through the drenching cloud.

God will give it thee - that is, 'even to the restoration of my dead brother to life,' for that plainly is her meaning, as the sequel shows.


Verse 23

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again - purposely expressing Himself in general terms, to draw her out.


Verse 24

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day: - q.d., 'But are we never to see him in life until then?'


Verse 25

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: - q.d., 'The whole power to impart, maintain, and restore life, resides in Me.' (See the notes at John 1:4; John 5:21.) What higher claim to supreme divinity than this grand saying can be conceived?

He that believeth in me, though he were dead, [ kan (G2579) apothanee (G599), 'though he die,'] yet shall he live: - q.d., 'The believer's death shall be swallowed up in life, and his life shall never sink into death.' Since death comes by sin, it is His to dissolve it; and as life flows through His righteousness, it is His to communicate and eternally maintain it. (See the note at Romans 5:21.)


Verse 26

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. The temporary separation of soul and body is here regarded as not even interrupting, much less impairing, the new and everlasting life imparted by Jesus to His believing people.

Believest thou this? Canst thou take this in?


Verse 27

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: I believe , [ egoo (Greek #1473) pepisteuka (Greek #4100)] - 'I have believed (and do believe).' The "I" is emphatic-`As for me.'

That thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come (or 'that cometh') into the world: - q.d., 'And having such faith in Thee, I can believe all which that comprehends. While she had a glimmering perception that Resurrection, in every sense of the word, belonged to the Messianic office and Sonship of Jesus, she means, by this way of expressing herself, to cover much that she felt her ignorance of-as no doubt appertaining of right to Him.


Verse 28

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.

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 , [ paresti (Greek #3918) kai (Greek #2532) foonei (Greek #5455) se (Greek #4571)] - 'is here, and calleth thee.' The narrative does not give us this charming piece of information, but Martha's words do.


Verse 29

As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

As soon as [or, 'When' hoos (G5613)] she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him , [ egeiretai (Greek #1453) ... erchetai (Greek #2064)] - rather, 'ariseth,' and 'cometh.' Affection for her Lord, assurance of His sympathy, and hope of his interposition, put a spring into her depressed spirit.


Verse 30

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 31

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 then which were with her in the house, and comforted (or 'were comforting') her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her. Thus casually were provided witnesses of the glorious miracle that followed, witnesses not prejudiced, certainly, in favour of Him who performed it.

Saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there - according to Jewish practice for some days after burial.


Verse 32

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.

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet - more impassioned than her sister, though her words were fewer.

Saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. See the note at John 11:21.


Verse 33

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled,

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit , [ enebrimeesato (Greek #1690)]. The word here is not that usually employed to express groaning. It denotes any 'strong manifestation of inward emotion;' but here it probably means, 'made a visible and powerful effort to check His emotion'-to restrain those tears which were ready to gush from His eyes.

And was troubled , [ etaraxen (Greek #5015) heauton (Greek #1438)] - rather, as in the margin, 'troubled Himself;' that is, became mentally agitated. The tears of Mary and her friends acted sympathetically upon Him, and drew forth His emotions. What a vivid outcoming of real humanity!


Verse 34

And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

And said, Where have ye laid him? Perhaps it was in order to retain composure enough to ask this question, and on receiving the answer to proceed with them to the spot, that He checked Himself.

They said [`say' legousin (G3004)] unto him, Lord, come and see.


Verse 35

Jesus wept.

Jesus Wept , [ edakrusen (Greek #1145)]. This beautifully conveys the sublime brevity of the original word; else 'shed tears' might have better conveyed the difference between the word here used and that twice employed in John 11:33 [ klaioo (Greek #2799)], and there properly rendered "weeping" - denoting the loud wail for the dead, while that of Jesus consisted of silent tears. Is it for nothing that the Evangelist, some sixty years after it occurred, holds up to all ages with such touching brevity the sublime spectacle of the Son of God in tears? What a seal of His perfect oneness with us in the most redeeming feature of our stricken humanity! But was there nothing in those tears beyond sorrow for human suffering and death? Could these effects move Him without suggesting the cause? Who can doubt that in His ear every feature of the scene proclaimed that stern law of the Kingdom, "The wages of sin is death," and that this element in His visible emotion underlay all the rest? See the notes at Mark 1:29-31, Remark 2 at the close of that section.


Verse 36

Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! We thank you, O ye visitors from Jerusalem, for this spontaneous testimony to the human softness of the Son of God.


Verse 37

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?

And, [ de (G1161), rather, 'But'] some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind , [ tou (Greek #3588) tuflou (Greek #5185)] - not 'of blind people' generally, but 'of the blind man;' referring to the specific case recorded in the ninth chapter.

Have caused that even , [ hina (Greek #2443) kai (Greek #2532) houtos (Greek #3778)] - rather, 'have caused also that'

This man should not have died? The former exclamation came from the better-feeling portion of the spectators; this betokens a measure of suspicion. It hardly goes the length of attesting the miracle on the blind man, but-`if, as everybody says, He did that, why could He not also have kept Lazarus alive?' As to the restoration of the dead man to life, they never so much as thought of it. But this disposition to dictate to divine power, and almost to peril our confidence in it upon its doing our bidding, is not confined to men of no faith.


Verse 38

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself - in the sense explained at John 11:33. But whereas there the rising emotion which He laboured to check was that of sorrow for suffering and its cause, here it is of sorrow, or something stronger, at the suspicious spirit which breathed through this speech. Yet here, too, the former emotion was the deeper of the two, now that His eye was about to rest on the spot where lay, in the still horrors of death, His friend.

Cometh to the grave. It ('Now it') was a cave - the cavity, natural or artificial, of a rock. This, with the number of condoling visitors from Jerusalem, and the costly ointment with which Mary afterward anointed Jesus at Bethany, all go to show that the family were in good circumstances.

And a stone lay upon it - or 'against it;' for as the Oriental sepulchres of the better classes were hewn out of the rock, the slab which shut them in might be laid either horizontally or perpendicularly.


Verse 39

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 dead four days.

Jesus said [`saith' legei (G3004)], Take ye away the stone. This, remarks Grotius, was spoken to the attendants of Martha and Mary, because it was a work of no lithe labour. According to the Talmudists, says Lampe, quoting from Maimonides, it was forbidden to open a grave after the stone was placed upon it. Besides other dangers, they were apprehensive of legal impurity by contact with the dead. Hence, they avoided coming nearer a grave than four cubits. But He who touched the leper, and the bier of the widow of Nain's son, rises here also above these Judaic memorials of evils, every one of which He had come to roll away. Observe here what our Lord did Himself, and what He made others do. As Elijah himself repaired the altar on Carmel, arranged the wood, cut the victim, and placed the pieces on the fuel, but made the bystanders fill the surrounding trench with water, that no suspicion might arise of fire having been secretly applied to the pile (1 Kings 18:30-35); so our Lord would let the most sceptical see that, without laying a hand on the stone that covered His friend, He could recall him to life. What could be done by human hands He orders to be done, reserving only to Himself what transcended the ability of all creatures.

Martha, the sister of him that was dead - and as such the proper guardian of the precious remains; the relationship being here mentioned to account for her venturing gently to remonstrate against their exposure, in a state of decomposition, to eyes that had loved him so tenderly in life. Saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been [dead] four days. (See the note at John 11:17.) It is wrong to suppose from this, as Lampe and others do, that, like the bystanders, she had not thought of his restoration to life. But certainly the glimmerings of hope which she cherished from the first (John 11:22), and which had been brightened by what Jesus said to her (John 11:23-27), had suffered a momentary eclipse on the proposal to expose the now sightless corpse. To such fluctuations all real faith is subject in dark hours-as the example of Job makes sufficiently manifest.


Verse 40

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 wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? He had not said those very words; but that was the scope of all that He had uttered to her about His life-giving power (John 11:23; John 11:25-26) - a gentle yet emphatic and most instructive rebuke: 'Why doth the restoration of life, even to a decomposing corpse, seem hopeless in presence of the Resurrection and the Life? Hast thou yet to learn that "if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth"'? (Mark 9:23).


Verse 41

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his 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.

And Jesus lifted up his eyes , [ eeren (Greek #142) ... anoo (Greek #507)]. The attitude is somewhat emphatically expressed-`lifted His eyes upward,' marking His calm solemnity (compare John 17:1).

And said, Father, I thank thee thou hast heard me , [ eekousas (Greek #191)] - rather, 'heardest me;' referring, as we think, to a specific prayer offered by Him, probably on intelligence of the case reaching Him (John 11:3-4); for His living and loving oneness with the Father was maintained and manifested in the flesh, not merely by the spontaneous and uninterrupted outgoing of Each to Each in spirit, but by specific actings of faith and exercises of prayer about each successive case as it emerged. He prayed, as Luthardt well says, 'not for what He wanted, but for the manifestation of what He had;' and having the bright consciousness of the answer in the felt liberty to ask it, and the assurance that it was at hand. He gives thanks for this with a grand simplicity before performing the act.


Verse 42

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

And (or rather, 'Yet') I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people, [ dia (G1223) ton (G3588) ochlon (G3793), or 'for the sake of the multitude'] which stand by [or 'stand around' periestoota (G4026)], I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. Instead of praying now, He simply gives thanks for answer to prayer offered before He left Peraea, and adds that His doing even this, in the audience of the people, was not from any doubt of the prevalency of His prayers in any case, but to show the people that He did nothing without His Father, but all by direct communication with Him.


Verse 43

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. On one other occasion only did He this-on the Cross. His last utterance was a "loud cry" (Matthew 27:50). "He shall not cry," said the prophet; nor, in His ministry, did He cry. What a sublime contrast is this "loud cry" to the magical "whisperings" and "mutterings" of which we read in Isaiah 8:19-20. As Grotius well remarks, it is second only to the grandeur of that voice which shall raise all the dead (John 5:28-29; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).


Verse 44

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.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin.

Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Jesus will no more do this Himself than roll away the stone. As the one was the necessary preparation for resurrection, so the other was the necessary sequel to it. THE LIFE-GIVING ACT ALONE HE RESERVES TO HIMSELF. Even so in the quickening of the dead to spiritual life, human instrumentality is employed first to prepare the way, and then to turn it to account.


Verse 45

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

Then many (or, 'Many therefore') of the Jews which came (or 'had come') to Mary (as sympathizing friends), and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. These were of the candid class, on whom the effect of so stupendous a miracle, done before their own eyes, could not but be resistless. See the notes at John 12:9-11.


Verse 46

But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. These were of the prejudiced class, whom no evidence would convince. These two classes continually re-appear in the Gospel History; nor is there ever any great work of God which does not produce both.


Verse 47

Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

Then - or, 'Therefore,' in consequence of the intelligence brought them of this last and grandest of the Lord's miracles, "gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles."


Verse 48

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation: - q.d., 'While we trifle, this man, by his many miracles, will carry all before him; the popular enthusiasm will bring on a revolution, which will precipitate the Romans upon us, and our all will go down in one common ruin.' What a testimony to the reality of our Lord's miracles, and their resistless effect, from His bitterest enemies! But how low the considerations are by which their whole decision is influenced-the fear of a national break-up, which would endanger their own position and interests!


Verse 49

And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 50

Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. He meant nothing more than that there was no use in discussing the matter, since the right course was obvious: the way to prevent the apprehended ruin of the nation was to make a sacrifice of the Disturber of their peace. But in giving utterance to this suggestion of political expediency, he was so guided as to give forth a divine prediction of deep significance; and God so ordered it that it should come from the lips of the high priest for that memorable year, the recognized head of God's visible people, whose ancient office, symbolized by the Urim and Thummim, was to decide, in the last resort, all vital questions as the oracle of the divine will.


Verse 51

And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

And (or, 'Now') this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that (or rather, 'the') nation , [ tou (Greek #3588) ethnous (Greek #1484)];


Verse 52

And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

And not for that ('the') nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were (or 'are') scattered abroad. This is one of those explanatory remarks of our Evangelist himself, which we have had once and again to notice as one of the characteristics of his Gospel.


Verse 53

Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

Then (or, 'Therefore') from that day forth they took council together for to put him to death.


Verse 54

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.

Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews. How could He, unless He had wished to die before His time?

But went thence unto a (or rather, 'the') country, [ teen (G3588) chooran (G5561)] near to the wilderness-of Judea, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued [or 'tarried' dietribe (G1304)] with his disciples. What this city of Ephraim was, and where precisely it was, is not agreed. But Robinson and Stanley identify it with a small village now called Taijibeh, about twenty miles north of Jerusalem.


Verse 55

And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. And (or, 'Now') the Jews' Passover was nigh at hand - the fourth, according to our reckoning, during our Lord's public ministry; that at which He became "our Passover, sacrificed for us."

And many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves - from any legal uncleanness which would have disqualified them from keeping the feast (see Numbers 9:10, etc.; 2 Chronicles 30:17, etc.) This is mentioned to introduce the graphic statement which follows.


Verse 56

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?

Then sought they for Jesus, and spake [or 'said' elegon (G3004)] among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? giving forth their various conjectures and speculations about the probability of His coming or not coming to the feast.


Verse 57

Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Now [both] the chief priests and the Pharisees. The word "both" [ kai (Greek #2532)] should be excluded, as clearly not genuine.

Had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him. This is mentioned to account for the conjectures whether He would come, in spite of this determination to seize Him.

Remarks:

(1) We have already remarked, that as the resurrection of Lazarus and the opening of the eyes of the man born blind were the most wonderful of all our Lord's miracles, so it is precisely these two miracles which are recorded with the minutest detail, and which stand attested by evidence the most unassailable. One argument only has scepticism been able to urge against the credibility of these miracles-the entire silence of the First Three Evangelists regarding them. But even if we were unable to account for that silence, the positive evidence by which these miracles are attested can in no degree be affected by it. And then this silence of the First Three Evangelists embraces the whole Judaean ministry of our Lord, from the very beginning of it down to His final entry into Jerusalem. So that if this be any argument against the two miracles in question, it is an argument rather against the entire credibility of the Fourth Gospel-to which we have adverted in the Introduction. (2) If the resurrections from the dead were the most divine of all the miracles which our Lord performed, this resurrection of Lazarus was certainly the most divine of the three recorded in the Gospel History. On the great lesson which it teaches, even more gloriously than the other two, see the notes at Mark 5:21-43, Remark 5 at the close of that section. But

(3) The true nature of all these resurrections must be carefully observed. They were none of them a resurrection from the dead to "die no more." They were a mere reanimation of the mortal body, until in the course of nature they should die again, to sleep until the Trumpet shall sound, and with all other sleeping believers awake finally to resurrection-life.

(4) Did Jesus suffer the case of Lazarus to reach its lowest and most desperate stage before interposing, and his loving sisters to agonize and weep until their faith in His own power and love, which had done nothing all that time to arrest the hand of death and corruption, had been tried to the uttermost? What is this, but an illustration-the most signal, indeed, yet but one more illustration-of a feature observable in most of His miracles, where only after all other help was vain did He Himself step in? In so acting, is it necessary to say that He did but serve Himself Heir, so to speak, to God's own ancient style of procedure toward His people? (See Deuteronomy 32:36; Isaiah 59:16). And will not this help to assure us that "to the upright there ariseth light in the darkness"? (Psalms 112:4).

(5) We have seen in Christ's tears over impenitent Jerusalem the weeping Saviour: in Christ's tears over the grave of Lazarus we see the weeping Friend. And just as in the other case, though the tears which bedewed those cheeks at the sight of impenitence are now no more, He is not even in heaven, at the sight of similar impenitence, insensible to the feeling that drew them forth here below: so when some dear Lazarus has fallen asleep, and his Christian relatives and friends are weeping over his bier and at his grave, we are not to be chilled by the apprehension that Jesus in the heavens merely looks on and drops comfort into the wounded heart-Himself all void of sympathetic emotion-but are warranted to assure ourselves that His heart there is quite as tender and warm, and quite as quick in its sensibilities, as ever it showed itself to be here; or, in language that will come better home to us, that "we have not an High Priest that cannot," even now, "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tried like as we are, yet without sin," and this on very purpose to acquire experimentally the capacity to identify Himself to perfection, in feeling as well as in understanding, with the whole circle of our trials. What rivers of divine consolation, O ye suffering disciples of the Lord Jesus, are there here opened up for you! Drink, then, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved!

(6) What a commentary is the determined and virulent resistance even of such evidence, by the ruling Jewish party, on those words of the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus - "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead!"

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 11:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-11.html. 1871-8.

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