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The Death of Lazarus


Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.

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1. And one named Lazarus was sick. The Evangelist passes on to another narrative, which contains a miracle eminently worthy of being recorded. For not only did Christ give a remarkable proof of his Divine power in raising Lazarus, but he likewise placed before our eyes a lively image of our future resurrection. This might indeed be said to be the latest and concluding action of his life, for the time of his death was already at hand. We need not wonder, therefore, if he illustrated his own glory, in an extraordinary manner, in that work, the remembrance of which he wished to be deeply impressed on their minds, that it might seal, in some respects, all that had gone before. There were others whom Christ had raised from the dead, but he now displays his power on a rotting corpse. But the circumstances which tend to magnify the glory of God in this miracle shall be pointed out in their proper place and order.

Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. The probable reason why this circumstance is mentioned is, that Lazarus had not acquired so great celebrity among believers as his sisters had; for these holy women were accustomed to entertain Christ with their hospitality, as is evident from what is related by the Evangelist Luke, (Luke 10:38.) It is really too ridiculous a blunder, to suppose that Monks, and such fry as the Papists have, made this small town or village a castle.

2. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord. It is a similar display of ignorance, to imagine that this Mary, the sister of Lazarus, was that woman of wicked and infamous life, who is mentioned by Luke, (Luke 7:37.) This mistake was occasioned by the anointing; as if it were not evident enough that Christ was anointed on various occasions, and even at different places. The woman who was a sinner, of whom Luke gives an account, anointed Christ at Jerusalem, where he dwelt; but Mary afterwards anointed him at Bethany, which was her own village. The past tense employed by the Evangelist, who anointed, must be referred, not to the time of the occurrence which he is now relating, but to the time when he wrote; as if he had said, “It was this Mary who afterwards poured on the head of Christ the ointment, on account of which a murmuring arose among the disciples,” (Matthew 26:7.)