Notes on John 11:30-44

John 11:30‑44  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 7
There was not the smallest haste in the movements of our Lord. Indeed we may rather note His calm bearing in presence of the one sister, so quick to go before she was called, and of the other when she was. Jesus abides the same, a man, yet in the quiet dignity of the Son of God.
“Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha came to meet him. The Jews therefore who were with her in the house, and consoling her, having seen Mary that she quickly rose up, and went out, followed her,1 thinking she goeth unto the tomb, that she may weep there.” (Vers. 30, 31) It was not so, however; but the grace of Christ meant that there He should meet Mary, soon about to behold a bright outshining of the glory of God in her beloved Lord. What strangers to Jesus were those who would console her in vain before death!
Not that Mary was above the pressure of death more than others. She repeats what Martha said; but she was of a different spirit in repeating it. “Mary, therefore, when she came where Jesus was, having seen him, fell at his feet, saying to him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (Ver. 32) But if she saw in Him as yet only power to preserve, if she had to learn that He is the resurrection and the life, at least she fell at His feet, as Martha did not; and the Lord, if He says nothing, will soon answer in deed and in truth. But the consciousness of divine glory, and this about to manifest itself superior to death in presence of all, in no way detracted from the sensibilities of His spirit. On the contrary, the very next verses let us know how deep were the emotions of our blessed Lord at this moment.
“Jesus, therefore, when he saw her weeping, and the Jews that came with her weeping, was deeply moved in spirit, and troubled himself, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say to him, Lord, come and see. 2Jesus wept. The Jews therefore said, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this [man] that opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that this [man] also should not have died?” (Vers. 33-37.)
The word translated “deeply moved” occurs elsewhere for a “strict,” or stern “charge,” as in Matt. 9:3030And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See that no man know it. (Matthew 9:30), Mark 1:1313And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. (Mark 1:13); or an angry speech, as in Mark 14:55For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. (Mark 14:5). Here it is rather the inward feeling than the expression, approached rather nearly by such use as that in Lucian (Nec. 20), of fretting or groaning. It means the strong, and it may be indignant, feeling the Lord experienced at the power of death over not the Jews only but Mary, wielded, as it still was, by the enemy. This is still farther expressed by the phrase that follows, as well as by verse 38. His tender sympathy appears rather in His weeping (ver. 35), after asking where they had laid Lazarus, and the invitation to come and see. His indignant sense of Satan's power through sin did not interfere in the least with His deep compassion; and what we see here is but the counterpart of His habitual bearing the diseases, and taking the infirmities, which the first gospel applies from Isa. 53:44Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4). Never was it mere power, nor was it only sympathy, but the entrance of His spirit into every case He cured, the bearing of the weight on His heart before God of all that oppressed sin-stricken man. Here it was the still graver ravages of death in the family He loved.
But we may note that in our Lord's case, profound as was His grief, it was His servant. ““ He troubled himself.” It did not gain the mastery, as our affections are apt to do with us. Every feeling in Christ was perfect in kind and measure, as well as season. His groaning, His trouble, His weeping—what were they not in God's sight! How precious should they not be to us! Even the Jews could not but say, “Behold how he loved him!” What had they thought had they known He was just going to raise the dead man? If they did not recall His power, it was only the unavailing regret that He who healed the blind had not forefended death in the case of Lazarus. They were utterly at fault about this sickness, as blind to the glory of God as to the way of it, that the Son of God would be glorified thereby. Faith in the glory of His person alone rightly interprets and appreciates in its measure the depth of His love. “Jesus wept.” What a difference these words convey to Him who sees nothing but a man, who knows Him to be the mighty God, the only-begotten Son! Even the unbeliever could not in this case fail to own His love; but how immensely that love is enhanced by His divine dignity, and the consciousness that He was about to act in the power of divine life above death
And it of all consequence that we should believe and know, without doubt, that all that Jesus showed Himself that day on behalf of Lazarus, He is, and far more, for His own, and that He will prose it for every one of us at His coming. For there is now also the fruit of the travail of His soul, and the power of His resurrection, after the fullest judgment of sin in the cross. Hence all His love and power can act unhinderedly on our behalf, as they surely will to the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. What men then beheld was but a testimony, however truly divine; but at His coming the troth will be fully out in power. Now is the time to believe and confess the truth in the midst of a crooked and perverted generation. May we be enabled to shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life
“Jesus therefore again, deeply moved in himself, cometh unto the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus saith, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the deceased, 3saith to him, Lord, he already stinketh, for he is four days [dead]. Jesus saith to her, Said I not to thee that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God They took away, therefore, the stone;4 and Jesus lifted his eyes upward, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou heardest me. And I knew that thon hearest me always; but on account of the crowd that standeth around I said it, that they may believe that thou didst send me. And having said this, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And5 the dead came forth, having the feet and the hands bound with graveclothes, and his face was bound round with a handkerchief. Jesus saith to them, Loose him, and let him go.” (Vers. 38-44.)
It was no longer the time for words, and Jesus, again realizing in Himself the power which shut opt God's glory from man; comes to the cave with a stone laid on it, which served for tomb. There the unbelief of Martha ventured (what does it not?) to oppose the Lord's word to remove the stone: He, that all might be clear; she, because His words disappointed her baste, if indeed she expected anything. But if Martha could not rise above the bumbling effects of death, which she would shut out from others, Jesus would not hide what was due to God in grace to man. How quickly the word of the Lord is forgotten in presence of the sad circumstances of human ruin! Faith gives the word heed, and reaps the blessing in due time. Listen to Jesus. He is heard already. He knows beforehand that He has what He asks, heard now; as always. The Father was concerned no less than the Son, and it was said that those who heard might believe that the Father sent Him forth.
And then comes the word of power: “Lazarus, come forth.” He had prayed to the Father, jealous above all for His glory, and never forgetful of the place He had Himself come down to as man. But He was the Son, He could quicken whom He would, and so He does. Yet even in the majesty of this divine display, He intermingles after, as well as before, what drew men's attention, that they might not be faithless but believing. What difficulty was there in the stone? For Himself He needed to remove nothing. It was for their sakes, to see man in the loathsomeness of death before he was raised. And so now what for Him mattered the binding of the graveclothes, or of the handkerchief? The grace of the Lord by both would only give them the better confirmation of what He had wrought. He could have loosed Lazarus as easily as He could have caused the stone to disappear; He could have willed all without crying with a loud voice; but He, who would that we should confide in the power of His word, would have us note the corruption that precedes quickening and the bondage which may follow it now. Liberty is needed well as life, but it is unnatural that one, who is made to live, should be longer bound.
1. δόξαντες à B Cp.m. DLX, some cursives, and most ancient versions, λέγοντες, “saying,” (Text. Rec.) A and a dozen uncials, most cursives and versions.
2. à D, &c., with most of the ancient add the copula καί “and."
3. For the received reading τεθνηκότος, “dead,” supported by a good many uncials and most cursives, the highest authorities give τετελευτηκότος “deceased."
4. Text. Rec. with the great majority of MSS. adds οὖ ἦν δ τεθνηκὼς κείμενος, A K Π &c. only οὖ ἦν, but the best (à B Cp.m. D L X, some cursives, and the oldest versions) omit.
5. The received text with most authorities begins with the copula καί “and,” but omits the last αὐτόν “him,” contrary to a few of the beat authorities.