John 11:33-44

Henry Mahan

(Vs. 33-34) The Lord Jesus saw Mary weeping at His feet. She could say no more after her comment in Verse 32 – only weep! He saw the Jews who were with her weeping, either through sympathy or hypocritically. He thought of the sin of the creature, which is the cause of sorrow and grief, and He groaned or was deeply moved in the spirit. This shows again that our Lord had a real human soul, subject to passions, though without sin (Heb. 4:15-16). As omniscient God, He knew where Lazarus lay; but He asked them, "Where have you laid him?"

(Vs. 35) As they were walking along to the grave, the Lord Jesus wept. Who is to say what His thoughts were as they walked along? He thought of Lazarus, of the grief of the sisters, of the unbelief of the multitude, and even of the lack of faith upon the part of His friends. Three times in the New Testament we read of our Lord's weeping (John 11:35; Luke 19:41; Heb. 5:7). Are His tears not tears of pity and sympathy? And are His tears, not always, somehow, connected with sin and unbelief?

(Vs. 36-38) The Jews did not understand the deeper cause of His grief, but they concluded from His tears that He in truth did love Lazarus. But some of them drew a worse conclusion and one that questioned the character and claims of Christ. They said, "This is the man who opened the eyes of the blind. Why did He not save His friend from death and heal him?" This is much like the mockery at the cross when they said, "He saved others; himself he cannot save." They continually looked for ways to discredit and doubt Him. His groaning in Himself might indicate a holy anger and indignation at the wickedness and ma]-ice of the religious Jews. The body of Lazarus lay in a cave with a stone over the entrance.

(Vs. 39) Our Lord commanded them to roll away the stone. He could have easily commanded the stone to roll away, but our Lord avoids alL theatrics and show and uses means to accomplish His purposes. What an example of simplicity, power, and authority! Martha, who was always "careful about many things," probably thought He intended only to view the body (not raise him) and therefore objected to having the stone rolled away; for she said, "He has been dead four days and the smell will be offensive." Can this be the same one who said earlier, "Even now, what you ask of God, God will give you?" (John 11:22). Her faith certainly wavered at the prospect of opening the tomb.

(Vs. 40) Her objection was followed by His kind rebuke and reminder of what He had said earlier. I'm sure someone told her what He said in John 11:4 about Lazarus' illness not being unto death but for the glory of God; also in John 11:23 He said, "Thy brother shall rise again;" and in John 11:25-26 He said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me shall never die; do you believe this?" All of this is summarized in these words, "If you would believe, you would see the glory of God." The performing of this miracle did not depend on Martha's exercise of faith; Christ intended to raise Lazarus for His glory. What He is saying to Martha is that if she would get her eyes off the corpse and the flesh and rivet her attention on Christ, trusting Him, believing Him, she would see the greater glory of God revealed in Christ. Faith sees in Him the power and the wisdom of God and rejoices (John 11:4; Psalm 63:1-2; II Cor. 4:6).

(Vs. 41-42) After they had rolled away the stone, our Lord lifted up His eyes (the throne of God being in heaven, John 17:1). He said, "Father" (not "our Father," for God is His Father in a unique sense, John 1:14, John 3:16)"I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me." He refers not only to this matter of raising Lazarus but to the fact the Father always hears Him, for they are One in ail things. The Father wills what the Son wills, and the Son wills nothing but what the Father wills. So then it is impossible that the Father should not hear and grant the will of the Son. His prayer was for the benefit of the people who stood by, that they might believe Christ and believe that the Father sent Christ. For if the Father had not sent Jesus, He would not be the Christ and the Father would not hear Him in anything. All of this was full proof and evidence of His person and Divine work.

(Vs. 43-44) He called Lazarus by name to distinguish him from the rest of the dead. "Lazarus, come forth." It was the voice of Christ our Lord that brought forth the dead. It is His Word and power which give life to those who are spiritually dead and to those who are physically dead (John 4:25-29; Eph. 2:1; I Thess. 4:16-17). It was the custom to wrap the dead in strips of linen with a napkin about the face (John 19:40). So Lazarus came forth as they had laid him in the tomb. Our Lord said, "Unwind the cloth and set him at liberty to go to his house." The glory of God, the revelation of His power, love, and redemption, were there for all to see. God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself; God was in Christ having mercy on the helpless; God was in Christ giving life to the dead. BELIEVE IN HIM!

There are two ways in which the Lord Jesus is to His people the resurrection and the life: (1) in purchasing our redemption from the wages of sin by paying Himself the full price that Divine justice demanded and (2) by making us one with Himself, Who is the very life of all being (John 14:6; John 17:21). The believer is in Christ by the choice of the Father, by the headship and redemptive work of the Son, and by a living union. So as He lives, we live; and this experience of Lazarus will someday be ours when the Lord Jesus brings us forth from the grave to die no more (I Cor. 15:42-49).

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.