Verse 1. One Lazarus - It is probable, Lazarus was younger than his sisters. Bethany is named, the town of Mary and Martha, and Lazarus is mentioned after them, ver. 5. Ecclesiastical history informs us, that Lazarus was now thirty years old, and that he lived thirty years after Christ's ascension.
Verse 2. It was that Mary who afterward anointed, &c. She was more known than her elder sister Martha, and as such is named before her.
Verse 4. This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God - The event of this sickness will not be death, in the usual sense of the word, a final separation of his soul and body; but a manifestation of the glorious power of God.
Verse 7. Let us go into Judea - From the country east of Jordan, whither he had retired some time before, when the Jews sought to stone him, chap. x, 39,
Verse 9. Are there not twelve hours in the day? - The Jews always divided the space from sunrise to sunset, were the days longer or shorter, into twelve parts: so that the hours of their day were all the year the same in number, though much shorter in winter than in summer. If any man walk in the day he stumbleth not - As if he had said, So there is such a space, a determined time, which God has allotted me. During that time I stumble not, amidst all the snares that are laid for me. Because he seeth the light of this world - And so I see the light of God surrounding me.
Verse 10. But if a man walk in the night - If he have not light from God; if his providence does no longer protect him.
Verse 11. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth - This he spoke, just when he died. Sleepeth - Such is the death of good men in the language of heaven. But the disciples did not yet understand this language. And the slowness of our understanding makes the Scripture often descend to our barbarous manner of speaking.
Verse 16. Thomas in Hebrew, as Didymus in Greek, signifies a twin. With him - With Jesus, whom he supposed the Jews would kill. It seems to be the language of despair.
Verse 20. Mary sat in the house - Probably not hearing what was said.
Verse 22. Whatsoever thou wilt ask, God will give it thee - So that she already believed he could raise him from the dead.
Verse 25. l am the resurrection - Of the dead. And the life - Of the living. He that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live - In life everlasting.
Verse 32. She fell at his feet - This Martha had not done. So she makes amends for her slowness in coming.
Verse 33. He groaned - So he restrained his tears. So he stopped them soon after, ver. 38. He troubled himself - An expression amazingly elegant, and full of the highest propriety. For the affections of Jesus were not properly passions, but voluntary emotions, which were wholly in his own power. And this tender trouble which he now voluntarily sustained, was full of the highest order and reason.
Verse 35. Jesus wept - Out of sympathy with those who were in tears all around him, as well as from a deep sense of the misery sin had brought upon humannature.
Verse 37. Could not this person have even caused, that this man should not have died? - Yet they never dreamed that he could raise him again! What a strange mixture of faith and unbelief.
Verse 38. It was a cave - So Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives, except Rachel, were buried in the cave of Machpelah, Gen. xlix, 29-31. These caves were commonly in rocks, which abounded in that country, either hollowed by nature or hewn by art. And the entrance was shut up with a great stone, which sometimes had a monumental inscription.
Verse 39. Lord, by this time he stinketh - Thus did reason and faith struggle together.
Verse 40. Said I not - It appears by this, that Christ had said more to Martha than is before recorded.
Verse 41. Jesus lifted up his eyes - Not as if he applied to his Father for assistance. There is not the least show of this. He wrought the miracle with an air of absolute sovereignty, as the Lord of life and death. But it was as if he had said, I thank thee, that by the disposal of thy providence, thou hast granted my desire, in this remarkable opportunity of exerting my power, and showing forth thy praise.
Verse 43. He cried with a loud voice - That all who were present might hear. Lazarus, come forth - Jesus called him out of the tomb as easily as if he had been not only alive, but awake also.
Verse 44. And he came forth bound hand and foot with grave clothes - Which were wrapt round each hand and each foot, and his face was wrapt about with a napkin - If the Jews buried as the Egyptians did, the face was not covered with it, but it only went round the forehead, and under the chin; so that he might easily see his way.
Verse 45. Many believed on Him - And so the Son of God was glorified, according to what our Lord had said, ver. 4.
Verse 46. But some of them went to the Pharisees - What a dreadful confirmation of that weighty truth, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead!
Verse 47. What do we? - What? Believe. Yea, but death yields to the power of Christ sooner than infidelity.
Verse 48. All men will believe - And receive him as the Messiah. And this will give such umbrage to the Roman that they will come and subvert both our place - Temple; and nation - Both our Church and state. Were they really afraid of this? Or was it a fair colour only? Certainly it was no more. For they could not but know, that he that raised the dead was able to conquer the Romans.
Verse 49. That year - That memorable year, in which Christ was to die. It was the last and chief of Daniel's seventy weeks, the fortieth year before the destruction of Jerusalem, and was celebrated for various causes, in the Jewishhistory. Therefore that year is so peculiarly mentioned: Caiaphas was the high priest both before and after it. Ye know nothing - He reproves their slow deliberations in so clear a case.
Verse 50. It is expedient that one man should die for the people - So God overruled his tongue, for he spake not of himself, by his own spirit only, but by the spirit of prophecy. And thus he gave unawares as clear a testimony to the priestly, as Pilate did to the kingly office of Christ.
Verse 52. But that, he might gather into one - Church, all the children of God that were scattered abroad - Through all ages and nations.
Verse 55. Many went up to purify themselves - That they might remove all hindrances to their eating the passover.