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11. Death and Raising of Lazarus
1Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2And it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3The sisters therefore sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. 5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6When therefore he heard that he was sick, he abode at that time two days in the place where he was. 7Then after this he saith to the disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8The disciples say unto him, Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because the light is not in him. 11These things spake he: and after this he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12The disciples therefore said unto him, Lord, if he is fallen asleep, he will recover. 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death: but they thought that he spake of taking rest in sleep. 14Then Jesus therefore said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17So when Jesus came, he found that he had been in the tomb four days already. 18Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off; 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary still sat in the house. 21Martha therefore said unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22And even now I know that, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give thee. 23Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth on me, though he die, yet shall he live; 26and whosoever liveth and believeth on me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I have believed that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, even he that cometh into the world. 28And when she had said this, she went away, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Teacher is her, and calleth thee. 29And she, when she heard it, arose quickly, and went unto him. 30(Now Jesus was not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met him.) 31The Jews then who were with her in the house, and were consoling her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up quickly and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going unto the tomb to weep there. 32Mary therefore, when she came where Jesus was, and saw him, fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. 35Jesus wept. 36The Jews therefore said, Behold how he loved him! 37But some of them said, Could not this man, who opened the eyes of him that was blind, have caused that this man also should not die? 38Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39Jesus saith, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time the body decayeth; for he hath been dead four days. 40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou believedst, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. 42And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the multitude that standeth around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me. 43And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45Many therefore of the Jews, who came to Mary and beheld that which he did, believed on him. 46But some of them went away to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done. 47The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many signs. 48If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. 49But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; 52and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. 53So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death. 54Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but departed thence into the country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there he tarried with the disciples. 55Now the passover of the Jews was at hand: and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the passover, to purify themselves. 56They sought therefore for Jesus, and spake one with another, as they stood in the temple, What think ye? That he will not come to the feast? 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commandment, that, if any man knew where he was, he should show it, that they might take him.
48. If we let him alone thus. What if they do not let him alone? In that case, as we have already said, they are fully convinced that it lies in their power to block up Christ’s path, so that he shall go no farther, provided that they earnestly strive against him. If Christ had been some impostor, their duty would have been to employ their exertions, that he might not lead away the sheep from the Lord’s flock; but by confessing his miracles, they make it sufficiently evident that they do not care much about God, whose power they so boldly and disdainfully despise.
The Romans will come. They cloak their wickedness by a plausible disguise, their zeal for the public good. The fear that chiefly distressed them was, that their tyranny would be destroyed; but they pretend to be anxious about the temple and worship of God, about the name of the nation, and about the condition of the people. And what is the object of all this? For they do not appear to seek pretences of this nature in order to deceive. They are not haranguing the people, but are holding in secrecy a private consultation among themselves. Being all aware that they are guilty of the same treachery, why do they not openly bring forward their plans and opinions? It is because impiety, though gross and manifest, is almost always accompanied by hypocrisy, and thus wraps itself in indirect evasions or subterfuges, so as to deceive under the semblance of virtue. Their chief design undoubtedly was, to hold out some appearance of gravity, moderation, and prudence, so as to practice imposition upon others; but it may readily be believed that, when they pretended to have just ground for persecuting Christ, they were themselves deceived by that poor disguise. Thus hypocrites, though their conscience reproves them within, are afterwards intoxicated by vain imaginations, so that in sinning they appear to be innocent. Yet they evidently contradict themselves; for at first they confessed that Christ did many miracles, and now they dread the Romans, as if there had not been abundantly sufficient protection in the power of God, which showed itself to be present by those miracles
The Romans will come. The Evangelist means, that the chief object of their consultation was, to guard against imminent danger. “If the Romans,” they say, “knew that any innovation was made in public matters, there is reason to fear that they would send an army to ruin our nation, together with the temple and worship of God.” Now it is wicked to consult about guarding against dangers, which we cannot avoid, unless we choose to depart from the right path. Our first inquiry ought to be, What does God command and choose to be done? By this we ought to abide, whatever may be the consequence to ourselves. Those men, on the other hand, resolve that Christ shall be removed from the midst of them, that no inconvenience may arise by allowing him to proceed, as he has begun. But what if he has been sent by God? Shall they banish a prophet of God from among them, to purchase peace with the Romans? Such are the schemes of those who do not truly and sincerely fear God. What is right and lawful gives them no concern, for their whole attention is directed to the consequences.
But the only way to deliberate in a proper and holy manner is this. First, we ought to inquire what is the will of God. Next, we ought to follow boldly whatever he enjoins, and not to be discouraged by any fear, though we were besieged by a thousand deaths; for our actions must not be moved by any gust of wind, but must be constantly regulated by the will of God alone. He who boldly despises dangers, or, at least, rising above the fear of them, sincerely obeys God, will at length have a prosperous result; for, contrary to the expectation of all, God blesses that firmness which is founded on obedience to his word. Unbelievers, on the other hand, are so far from deriving any advantage from their precautions, that, the more timorous they are, the more numerous are the snares in which they entangle themselves.
In this narrative the form and character of our own age are strikingly delineated. They who are desirous to be regarded as prudent and cautious have continually this song in their mouth: “We must consult the public tranquillity; the reformation which we attempt is not unaccompanied by many dangers.” After having raised this unfounded dislike against us, they find no better expedient than to bury Christ, for the purpose of obviating every annoyance. As if such wicked contempt of the grace of God could actually have a prosperous issue, when, in order to allay disturbances, they contrive this remedy, that the doctrine of salvation shall be abolished. On the contrary, what wicked men dread will happen; and though they may obtain what they expect, still it is a most unworthy recompense, to appease the world by offending God.
Will take away our place. It is uncertain whether they mean the temple or their country. They thought that their salvation depended on both; for, if the temple was destroyed, there would be no more sacrifices, or public worship of God, or calling on his name. If, therefore, they cared any thing about religion, they must have been anxious about the temple. It was of great importance, on the other hand, for upholding the condition of the Church, that they should not again be led away out of their own land. They still remembered the captivity into Babylon, which was an awfully severe vengeance of God. It was also a common proverb among them — which is frequently to be found in the Law — that it was in some respects a casting them off, if the Lord thrust them out of that land. Hence they conclude that, unless Christ be destroyed, the Church will not be safe.