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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - JOHN 11
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    CHAPTER 11

    Joh 11:1-46. LAZARUS RAISED FROM THE DEAD--THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS.

    1. of Bethany--at the east side of Mount Olivet.
    - the town of Mary and her sister Martha--thus distinguishing it from the other Bethany, "beyond Jordan." (See on Joh 1:28; Joh 10:40).

    2. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, &c.--This, though not recorded by our Evangelist till Joh 12:3, was so well known in the teaching of all the churches, according to our Lord's prediction (Mt 26:13), that it is here alluded to by anticipation, as the most natural way of identifying her; and she 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.

    3-5. his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick--a most womanly appeal, yet how reverential, to the known affection of her Lord for the patient. (See Joh 11:5, 11). "Those 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" [TRENCH].

    4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death--to result in death.
    - but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby--that is, by this glory of God. (See Greek.) Remarkable language this, which from creature lips would have been intolerable. It means that the glory of GOD manifested in the resurrection of dead Lazarus would be shown to be the glory, personally and immediately, of THE SON.

    5. 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 miserable skeptics who have 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 peculiar regard for this family as a triumphant refutation, if such were needed.

    6. When he heard he was sick, he abode two days still . . . where he was--at least twenty-five miles off. Beyond all doubt this was just to let things come to their worst, in order to display 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 (De 32:36).

    7-10. Let us go into Judea again--He was now in Perea, "beyond Jordan."

    8. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought, &c.--literally, "were (just) now seeking" "to stone thee" (Joh 10:31).
    - goest thou thither again?--to certain death, as Joh 11:16 shows they thought.

    9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?--(See on Joh 9:4). Our Lord's day had now reached its eleventh hour, and having till now "walked in the day," He would not mistime the remaining and more critical part of His work, which would be as fatal, He says, as omitting it altogether; for "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 there is no light in him."

    11-16. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may wake him out of sleep--Illustrious title! "Our friend Lazarus." To Abraham only is it accorded in the Old Testament, and not till after his death, (2Ch 20:7; Isa 41:8), to which our attention is called in the New Testament (Jas 2:23). When Jesus came in the flesh, His forerunner applied this name, in a certain sense, to himself (Joh 3:29); and into the same fellowship the Lord's chosen disciples are declared to have come (Joh 15:13-15). "The phrase here employed, "our friend Lazarus," means more than "he whom Thou lovest" in Joh 11:3, for it implies that Christ's affection was reciprocated by Lazarus" [LAMPE]. 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 spirit 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 on 1Th 4:14), a sense hinted at, and clearly, in Ps 17:15 [LUTHARDT]; and the "awaking out of sleep" acquires a corresponding sense far transcending bare resuscitation.

    12. if he sleep, he shall do well--literally, "be preserved"; that is, recover. "Why then go to Judea?"

    14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead--Says BENGEL beautifully, "Sleep is the death of the saints, in the language of heaven; 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; compare Mt 16:11."

    15. I am glad for your sakes I was not there--This 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 [LUTHARDT]. "It is beautifully congruous to the divine decorum that in presence of the Prince of Life no one is ever said to have died" [BENGEL].
    - that 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 (Php 3:1).

    16. 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 reappears at Joh 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 (Joh 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.

    17-19. when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days--If he died on the day the tidings came of his illness--and was, according to the Jewish custom, buried the same day (see JAHN'S Archæology, and Joh 11:39; Ac 5:5, 6, 10) --and if Jesus, after two days' further stay in Perea, 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 [MEYER].

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

    19. many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them--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.

    20-22. 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 Lu 10:38-42. (See on Lu 10:38-42).
    - but Mary sat . . . in the house--equally true to her placid character. These undesigned touches not only charmingly illustrate the minute historic fidelity of both narratives, but their inner harmony.

    21. Then said Martha . . . Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died--As Mary afterwards said the same thing (Joh 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 peculiar to them.

    22. But I know that even now, &c.--Energetic characters are usually sanguine, the rainbow of hope peering through the drenching cloud.
    - whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, 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.

    23-27. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again--purposely expressing Himself in general terms, to draw her out.

    24. Martha said, . . . I know that he shall rise again . . . at the last day--"But are we never to see him in life till then?"

    25. Jesus said, I am the resurrection and the life--"The whole power to restore, impart, and maintain life, resides in Me." (See on Joh 1:4; Joh 5:21). What higher claim to supreme divinity than this grand saying can be conceived?
    - he that believeth in me, though . . . dead . . . shall he live--that is, The believer's death shall be swallowed up in life, and his life shall never sink into death. As 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 (Ro 5:21). 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?

    27. Yea, . . . I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, &c.--that is, 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 belonging to Him.

    28-32. The Master is come and calleth for thee--The narrative does not give us this interesting detail, but Martha's words do.

    29. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly--affection for her Lord, assurance of His sympathy, and His hope of interposition, putting a spring into her distressed spirit.

    31. The Jews . . . followed her . . . to the grave--Thus casually were provided witnesses of the glorious miracle that followed, not prejudiced, certainly, in favor of Him who wrought it.
    - to weep there--according to Jewish practice, for some days after burial.
    - fell at his feet--more impassioned than her sister, though her words were fewer. (See on Joh 11:21).

    33-38. When Jesus . . . saw her weeping, and the Jews . . . weeping . . . he groaned in the spirit--the tears of Mary and her friends acting sympathetically upon Jesus, and drawing forth His emotions. What a vivid and beautiful outcoming of His "real" humanity! The word here rendered "groaned" does not mean "sighed" or "grieved," but rather "powerfully checked his emotion"--made a visible effort to restrain those tears which were ready to gush from His eyes.
    - and was troubled--rather, "troubled himself" (Margin); referring probably to this visible difficulty of repressing His emotions.

    34. Where have ye laid him? . . . %%

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