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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 44

Verse 44. He that was dead. The same man, body and soul.

Bound hand and foot. It is not certain whether the whole body and limbs were bound together, or each limb separately. When they embalmed a person, the whole body and limbs were swathed or bound together by strips of linen, involved around it to keep together the aromatics with which the body was embalmed. This is the condition of Egyptian mummies. See Ac 5:6. But it is not certain that this was always the mode. Perhaps the body was simply involved in a winding-sheet. The custom still exists in western Asia. No coffins being used, the body itself is more carefully and elaborately wrapped and swathed than is common or desirable where coffins are used. In this method the body is stretched out and the arms laid straight by the sides, after which the whole body, from head to foot, is wrapped round tightly in many folds of linen or cotton cloth; or, to be more precise, a great length of cloth is taken and rolled around the body until the whole is enveloped, and every part is covered with several folds of the cloth. The ends are then sewed, to keep the whole firm and compact; or else a narrow bandage is wound over the whole, forming, ultimately, the exterior surface. The body, when thus enfolded and swathed, retains the profile of the human form; but, as in the Egyptian mummies, the legs are not folded separately, but together; and the arms also are not distinguished, but confined to the sides in the general envelope. Hence it would be clearly impossible for a person thus treated to move his arms or legs, if restored to existence.

The word rendered "grave-clothes" denotes also the bands or clothes in which new-born infants are involved. He went forth, but his walking was impeded by the bands or clothes in which he was involved.

And his face, &c. This was a common thing when they buried their dead. See Joh 20:7. It is not known whether the whole face was covered in this manner, or only the forehead. In the Egyptian mummies it is only the forehead that is thus bound.

Loose him. Remove the bandages, so that he may walk freely. The effect of this miracle is said to have been that many believed on him. It may be remarked in regard to it that there could not be a more striking proof of the divine mission and power of Jesus. There could be here no possibility of deception.

1st. The friends of Lazarus believed him to be dead. In this they could not be deceived. There could have been among them no design to deceive.

2nd. He was four days dead. It could not be a case, therefore, of suspended animation.

3rd. Jesus was at a distance at the time of his death. There was, therefore, no agreement to attempt to impose on others.

4th. No higher power can be conceived than that of raising the dead.

5th. It was not possible to impose on his sisters, and to convince them that he was restored to life, if it was not really so.

6th. There were many present who were convinced also. God had so ordered it in his providence that to this miracle there should be many witnesses. There was no concealment, no jugglery, no secrecy. It was done publicly, in open day, and was witnessed by many who followed them to the grave, Joh 11:31.

7th. Others, who saw it, and did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, went and told it to the Pharisees. But they did not deny that Jesus had raised up Lazarus. They could not deny it. The very ground of their alarm—the very reason why they went—was that he had actually done it.

Nor did the Pharisees dare to call the fact in question. If they could have done it, they would. But it was not possible; for,

8th. Lazarus was yet alive (Joh 12:10), and the fact of his resurrection could not be denied. Every circumstance in this account is plain, simple, consistent, bearing all the marks of truth. But if Jesus performed this miracle his religion is true. God would not give such power to an impostor; and unless it can be proved that this account is false, the Christian religion must be from God.

{c} "he that was dead" 1 Ki 17:22; 2 Ki 4:34,35; Lu 7:14,15; Ac 20:9-12.

{d} "his face" Joh 20:7

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