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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. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus Raises Lazarus to Life

38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

The Plot to Kill Jesus

45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. 47So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. 48If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! 50You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” 51He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. 53So from that day on they planned to put him to death.

54 Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

49. Then one of them, named Caiaphas. It was a short consultation, for Caiaphas did not allow them to hesitate long. He holds out that there is but one way of purchasing safety, and that is, to slay an innocent man. To what a pitch of wickedness do men proceed, who, destitute of the fear of God, form their plans rather from the judgment of their flesh than from the word of God, and who confidently believe that they will derive advantage from that which is not permitted by the Author of every blessing. For what Caiaphas meant may be thus expressed. “They must provoke the wrath of God, in order that they may be happy and prosperous.” Wherefore, let us learn never to separate what is useful from what is lawful, since we ought not to expect any prosperity or success but from the blessing of God, which is promised not to wicked and rebellious persons, who ask assistance from the devil, but to believers who sincerely walk in their ways, (Psalm 91:11.) And yet there was some plausibility in this argument, for the public advantage ought always to have the preference. But — as I have already said — a people is no better protected by the unjust death of an innocent man, than the whole body of a man is protected, when you only cut his throat, or pierce his breast with a sword.

Who was the high priest of that year. He does not call him the high priest of that year, as if he meant that the office was annual, and lasted only for a year; but because it had become a gift that could be purchased with money, and was conveyed to various persons contrary to the injunction of the Law. God did not intend that this dignity should be terminated but by the death of him who held it; 330330     “Par la mort de celuy qui l’avolt.” but, in consequence of trouble and confusion in public affairs, the Romans frequently changed the priests according to their fancy.

51. Now he spoke this, not of himself. When the Evangelist says that Caiaphas did not speak this of himself, he does not mean that Caiaphas — like one who was mad, or out of his senses — uttered what he did not understand; for he spoke what was his own opinion. But the Evangelist means that a higher impulse guided his tongue, because God intended that he should make known, by his mouth, something higher than what occurred to his mind. Caiaphas, therefore, might be said, at that time, to have two tongues; for he vomited out the wicked and cruel design of putting Christ to death, which he had conceived in his mind; but God turned his tongue to a different purpose, so that, under ambiguous words, he likewise uttered a prediction. God intended that the heavenly oracle should proceed from the high priest’s seat, that the Jews might have less excuse. For, though not one person in the whole assembly had his conscience moved, yet they afterwards perceived that their insensibility was not entitled to forgiveness. Nor did the wickedness of Caiaphas prevent his tongue from being the organ of the Holy Spirit, for God looked at the priesthood which he had instituted rather than at the person of the man. And this was the reason which I glanced at, that a voice uttered from a lofty place might be more distinctly heard, and might have greater reverence and authority. In the same manner, God intended to bless his people by the mouth of Balaam, on whom he had bestowed the spirit of prophecy.

But it is highly ridiculous in the Papists to infer from this that we ought to reckon as an oracle whatever the Roman high priest may think fit to pronounce. First, granting what is false, that every man who is a high priest is also a prophet, still they will be under the necessity of proving that the Roman high priest is appointed by the command of God; for the priesthood was abolished by the coming of one man, who is Christ, and we no where read that it was afterwards enjoined by God that any one man should be the ruler of the whole Church. Granting to them, in the second place, that the power and title of high priest was conveyed to the Bishop of Rome, we must see of what advantage it was to the priests that they accepted the prediction of Caiaphas In order to concur in his opinion, they conspire to put Christ to death. But far from us be that kind of obedience which drives us to horrid apostacy by denying the Son of God. With the same voice Caiaphas blasphemes and also prophesies. They who follow his suggestion despise the prophecy, and adopt the blasphemy. We ought to guard against the same thing happening to us, if we listen to the Caiaphas of Rome; for otherwise the comparison would be defective. Besides, I ask, Must we conclude that, because Caiaphas once prophesied, every word uttered by the high priest is always a prophecy? But soon afterwards Caiaphas condemned as blasphemy (Matthew 26:65) the most important article of our faith. Hence we conclude, that what the Evangelist now relates was an extraordinary occurrence, and that it would be foolish to adduce it as an example.

That Jesus would die. First, the Evangelist shows that the whole of our salvation consists in this, that Christ should assemble us into one; for in this way he reconciles us to the Father, in whom is the fountain of life, (Psalm 36:9.) Hence, also, we infer, that the human race is scattered and estranged from God, until the children of God are assembled under Christ their Head. Thus, the communion of saints is a preparation for eternal life, because all whom Christ does not gather to the Father remain in death, as we shall see again under the seventeenth chapter. For the same reason Paul also teaches that Christ was sent, in order

that he might gather together all things which are in heaven and in earth,
(Ephesians 1:10.)

Wherefore, that we may enjoy the salvation brought by Christ, discord must be removed, and we must be made one with God and with angels, and among ourselves. The cause and pledge of this unity was the death of Christ, by which he drew all things to himself; but we are daily gathered by the Gospel into the fold of Christ.

52. And not for that nation only. The Evangelist means that the reconciliation effected by Christ is also extended to the Gentiles. But how comes it that they who, in consequence of being wretchedly scattered and wandering, became the enemies of God, are here called the children of God? I answer, as has been already said, God had in his breast children, who in themselves were wandering and lost sheep, or rather who were the farthest possible from being sheep, but, on the contrary, were wolves and wild beasts. It is therefore by election that he reckons as the children of God, even before they are called, those who at length begin to be manifested by faith both to themselves and to others.

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