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.
12. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.
13. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.
14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
15. And I am glad for your sakes I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
16. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) After He has comforted His disciples in one way, He comforts them in another, by telling them that they were not going to Jerusalem, but to Bethany: These things saith He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep: as if to say, I am not going to dispute again with the Jews, but to awaken our friend. Our friend, He says, to shew how strongly they were bound to go.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. c. 9.) It was really true that He was sleeping. To our Lord, he was sleeping; to men who could not raise him again, he was dead. Our Lord awoke him with as much ease from his grave, as thou awakest a sleeper from his bed. He calls him then asleep, with reference to His own power, as the Apostle saith, But I would not have you to be ignorant, concerning them which are asleep. (1 Thess. 4:13) Asleep, He says, because He is speaking of their resurrection which was to be. But as it matters to those who sleep and wake again daily, what they see in their sleep, some having pleasant dreams, others painful ones, so it is in death; every one sleeps and rises again with his own account.a
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 1.) The disciples however wished to prevent Him going to Judæa: Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Sleep is a good sign in sickness. And therefore if he sleep, say they, what need to go and awake him.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 11.) The disciples replied, as they understood Him: Howbeit Jesus spake of his death; but they thought that He had spoken of taking rest in sleep.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) But if any one say, that the disciples could not but have known that our Lord meant Lazarus’s death, when He said, that I may awake him; because it would have been absurd to have gone such a distance merely to awake Lazarus out of sleep; we answer, that our Lord’s words were a kind of enigma to the disciples, here as elsewhere often.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 11.) He then declares His meaning openly: Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) But He does not add here, I go that I may awake him. He did not wish to anticipate the miracle by talking of it; a hint to us to shun vain glory, and abstain from empty promises.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 11.) He had been sent for to restore Lazarus from sickness, not from death. But how could the death be hid from Him, into whose hands the soul of the dead had flown?
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that ye might believe; i. e. seeing My marvellous power of knowing a thing I have neither seen nor heard. The disciples already believed in Him in consequence of His miracles; so that their faith had not now to begin, but only to increase. That ye might believe, means, believe more deeply, more firmly.
Theophylact. Some have understood this place thus. I rejoice, He says, for your sakes; for if I had been there, I should have only cured a sick man; which is but an inferior sign of power. But since in My absence he has died, ye will now see that I can raise even the dead putrefying body; and your faith will be strengthened.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) The disciples all dreaded the Jews; and especially Thomas; Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. But he who was now the most weak and unbelieving of all the disciples, afterwards became stronger than any. And he who dared not go to Bethany, afterwards went over the whole earth, in the midst of those who wished his death, with a spirit indomitable.
Bede. The disciples, checked by our Lord’s answer to them, dared no longer oppose; and Thomas, more forward than the rest, says, Let us also go that we may die with him. What an appearance of firmness! He speaks as if he could really do what he said; unmindful, like Peter, of his frailty.
17. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:
19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
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:
26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
Alcuin. Our Lord delayed His coming for four days, that the resurrection of Lazarus might be the more glorious: Then when Jesus came, He found that He had lain in the grave four days already.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) Our Lord had stayed two days, and the messenger had come the day before; the very day on which Lazarus died. This brings us to the fourth day.
Augustine. (Tract. xlix. 12.) Of the four days many things may be said. They refer to one thing, but one thing viewed in different ways. There is one day of death which the law of our birth brings upon us. Men transgress the natural law, and this is another day of death. The written law is given to men by the hands of Moses, and that is despised—a third day of death. The Gospel comes, and men transgress it—a fourth day of death. But Christ doth not disdain to awaken even these.
Alcuin. The first sin was elation of heart, the second assent, the third act, the fourth habit.
Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) Two miles. This is mentioned to account for so many coming from Jerusalem: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. But how could the Jews be consoling the beloved of Christ, when they had resolved that whoever confessed Christ should be put out of the synagogue? Perhaps the extreme affliction of the sisters excited their sympathy; or they wished to shew respect for their rank. Or perhaps they who came were of the better sort; as we find many of them believed. Their presence is mentioned to do away with all doubt of the real death of Lazarus.
Bede. Our Lord had not yet entered the town, when Martha met Him: Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 2.) Martha does not take her sister with her, because she wants to speak with Christ alone, and tell Him what has happened. When her hopes had been raised by Him, then she went her way, and called Mary.
Theophylact. At first she does not tell her sister, for fear, if she came, the Jews present might accompany her. And she did not wish them to know of our Lord’s coming.
Then saith Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) She believed in Christ, but she believed not as she ought. She did not speak as if He were God: If Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Theophylact. She did not know that He could have restored her brother as well absent as present.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) Nor did she know that He wrought His miracles by His own independent power: But I know that even now, whatsoever Thou will ask of God, God will give it Thee. She only thinks Him some very gifted man.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 13.) She does not say to Him, Bring my brother to life again; for how could she know that it would be good for him to come to life again; she says, I know that Thou canst do so, if Thou wilt; but what Thou wilt do is for Thy judgment, not for my presumption to determine.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) But our Lord taught her the truths which she did not know: Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Observe, He does not say, I will ask God, that he may rise again, nor on the other hand does He say, I want no help, I do all things of Myself; a declaration which would have been too much for the woman; but something between the two, He shall rise again.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 14.) Shall rise again, is ambiguous: for He does not say, now. And therefore it follows: Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day: of that resurrection I am certain; of this I am doubtful.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii.) She had often heard Christ speak of the resurrection. Jesus now declares His power more plainly: Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life. He needed therefore none to help Him; for if He did, how could He be the resurrection. And if He is the life, He is not confined by place, but is every where, and can heal every where.
Alcuin. I am the resurrection, because I am the life; as through Me he will rise at the general resurrection, through Me he may rise now.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii.) To Martha’s, Whatsoever Thou shall ask, He replies, He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: shewing her that He is the Giver of all good, and that we must ask of Him. Thus He leads her to the knowledge of high truths; and whereas she had been enquiring only about the resurrection of Lazarus, tells her of a resurrection in which both she and all present would share.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 15.) He that believeth in Me, though he were dead: i. e. though his flesh die, his soul shall live till the flesh rise again, never to die more. For faith is the life of the soul.
And whosoever liveth, in the flesh, and believeth in Me, though he die for a time in the flesh, shall not die eternally.
Alcuin. Because He hath attained to the life of the Spirit, and to an immortal resurrection. Our Lord, from Whom nothing was hid, knew that she believed, but sought from her a confession unto salvation: 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.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) She seems not to have understood His words; i. e. she saw that He meant something great, but did not see what that was. She is asked one thing, and answers another.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 15.) When I believed that Thou wert the Son of God, I believed that Thou wert the resurrection, that Thou wert lifeb; and that he that believeth in Thee, though he were dead, shall live.
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.
29. And as soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.
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.
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.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii. 3.) Christ’s words had the effect of stopping Martha’s grief. In her devotion to her Master she had no time to think of her afflictions: And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 16.) Silently1, i. e. speaking in a low voice. For she did speak, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxii.) She calls her sister secretly, in order not to let the Jews know that Christ was coming. (non occ.). For had they known, they would have gone, and not been witnesses of the miracle.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 16.) We may observe that the Evangelist has not said, where, or when, or how, the Lord called Mary, but for brevity’s sake has left it to be gathered from Martha’s words.
Theophylact. Perhaps she thought the presence of Christ in itself a call, as if it were inexcusable, when Christ came, that she should not go out to meet Him.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) While the rest sat around her in her sorrow, she did not wait for the Master to come to her, but, not letting her grief detain her, rose immediately to meet Him; As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto Him.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. non occ.) So we see, if she had known of His arrival before, she would not have let Martha go without her.
Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) He went slowly, that He might not seem to catch at an occasion of working a miracle, but to have it forced upon Him by others asking. Mary, it is said, arose quickly, and thus anticipated His coming. The Jews accompanied her: The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary that she arose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.
Augustine. (Tr. xlix. 16.) The Evangelist mentions this to shew how it was that so many were present at Lazarus’ resurrection, and witness of that great miracle.
Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet.
Chrysostom. (Hom. lxiii. 1.) She is more fervent than her sister. Forgetful of the crowd around her, and of the Jews, some of whom were enemies to Christ, she threw herself at her Master’s feet. In His presence all earthly things were nought to her; she thought of nothing but giving Him honour.
Theophylact. But her faith seems as yet imperfect: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
Alcuin. As if to say, Lord, while Thou wert with us, no disease, no sickness dared to shew itself, amongst those with whom the Life deigned to take up His abode.
Augustine. (de Verb. Dom. s. lii) O faithless assembly! Whilst Thou art yet in the world, Lazarus Thy friend dieth! If the friend dies, what will the enemy suppose? Is it a small thing that they will not serve Thee upon earth? lo, hell hath taken Thy beloved.
Bede. Mary did not say so much as Martha, she could not bring out what she wanted for weeping, as is usual with persons overwhelmed with sorrow.