John 11:28-57

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

[The Master is come] This was the appellation which he had in the family; and from these words it appears that Christ had inquired for Mary, desiring to have her present that he might strengthen her faith before raising her brother.

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.
30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

[Jesus was not yet come into the town] As the Jewish burying places were without their cities and villages, it appears that the place where our Saviour was, when Martha met him, was not far from the place where Lazarus was buried.

31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

[If thou hadst been here, my brother had not died] These are the same words which were spoken by Martha earlier. Both women knew that Jesus had healed others and they intensly desired that he would arrive before it was, to them, "too late."

33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.
35 Jesus wept.

Jesus was humanity in its perfection, and humanity unadulterated is generous and sympathetic. A particular friend of Jesus was dead, and, as his friend, the affectionate soul of Christ was troubled, and he mingled his sacred tears with those of the affected relatives.
Here is God manifested in the flesh, living in human nature, feeling in his own humanity the loss of a friend. Can such a Jesus refuse to comfort the distressed or save the lost? Can he restrain his mercy from the penitent soul? Can such a creator be inattentive to the welfare of his own creation?

36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

And when we see him pouring out his blood and life on the cross for mankind, we exclaim, Behold how he loves us!

37 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

[Could not this man...have caused that even this man should not have died?] These people mistook Jesus tears for weakness. "If he loved him so much, why did he not heal him?" Of course, they did not understand that Jesus had another plan. All they could see was that he did not act in the way they thought he should.

38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
39 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

[Take away the stone] He desired to convince all those who were at the place, especially those who took away the stone, that Lazarus was not only dead, but that his body had begun to decay, so that it might not afterwards be said that Lazarus had only fainted or fallen into a coma, and not really died.

40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

So it is once again emphasized that it is faith which activates the miraculous and saving power of God in behalf of men.

41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.
42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

As it was a common opinion that great miracles could be wrought by the power of, and in the name of, the devil, Jesus lifted up his eyes to heaven, and involked the supreme God before these unbelieving Jews, that they might see that it was by his power this miracle was to be done. On this account our Lord says he spoke, "because of the multitude," that they might see there was no diabolic influence here, and that God in his mercy had visited his people.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

In John 5:25 our Lord had said that the time was coming, in which the dead should hear the voice of the Son of God, and live. Now he fulfils that prediction, and cries aloud, that the people may take notice and see that even death is subject to the soverign command of Christ.

44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

He would have those who were at hand take part in this business that the fullest conviction might rest on every person's mind concerning the reality of what was wrought.

45 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

They saw that the miracle was uncontestable; and they were determined to resist the truth no longer. Their friendly visit to these distressed sisters became the means of their conversion. God permits kindness to others to be returned in the form of good to the originator. See Proverbs 11:25.

46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Astonishing! It is difficult to imagine their motivation. Perhaps some thought that this miracle might change the minds of the Pharisees. Others, no doubt, even after witnessing this miracle, steeled their hearts against it and conspired to destroy the Savior.

47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.

[Then gathered...a council] The Pharisees, as such, had no power to asemble councils so they must have urgently requested Annas and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who were the high priests here mentioned to call an impromptu meeting.

[What shall we do?] This last miracle was so clear, plain and incontestable, that they were driven now to their wit's end. Their own spies had come and borne testimony of it. They told them what they had seen and on their word, as being in league with themselves against Jesus, they could confidently rely.

[All men will believe on him] If we permit him to work but a few more miracles like these two last (the cure of the blind man and the resurrection of Lazarus) he will be universally acknowledged as the Messiah. The people will proclaim him king and the Romans, who can suffer no government here but their own, will be so irritated that they will send their armies against us and destroy our temple and utterly dissolve our civil and ecclesiastical existance.

49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.

What he thought he was saying was, "If we permit this man to live we shall all be destroyed. Better for him to die than expose the whole naion to ruin."

51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

Wicked and worthless as he was, God so guided this tongue that, contrary to his intention, he pronounced a prophecy of the death of Jesus Christ.

52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.

Jesus would die, not to pay for the sins of the Jews only, but for the people of the entire world. 1 John 2:1-2.

A new category would come into being; Jews, Gentiles and his church, the called-out ones, those who have believed and been born again. See John 3:5-6.

53 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.

Which was God's plan all along. They were about to become unwitting participants.

54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.

[A city called Ephriam] Variously called Ephriam, Ephrem, Ephram, Ephratha. A little village situated in the neighborhood of Bethel.

55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves.

[Passover was nigh at hand] Some two or three months had passed since Jesus went up to Ephriam.

56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Based upon excerpts from Adam Clarke's Commentary, 2nd edition published in New York by Lane and Scott, 1850. More recent editions may be purchased from


This page updated 01/05/2007

Copyright (C) 1999,2003,2006,2007 Robert C. Denig. All rights reserved