JOHN CHAPTER 11.
The Raising of Lazarus. John 11, 1-46.
The death of Lazarus: V. 1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. V. 2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) V. 3. Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. V. 4. When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. V. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. V. 6. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was. While Jesus was still in retirement in Perea, on the east side of the Jordan, events were transpiring near Jerusalem which were destined to have a great influence on the lives of many people. At Bethany, a little town about fifteen stadia, almost two miles, from Jerusalem, on the southeast slope of the Mount of Olives, the Lord had some friends. Mary and Martha, both of whom were known to the early Christians, Luke 16, 20, with their brother Lazarus, lived there. In order to identify Lazarus and his sisters more exactly, the evangelist adds that it was Mary that anointed the Lord with spikenard and wiped His feet with her hair. Cp. chap. 12, 3. Lazarus, the brother of this Mary and her sister Martha, was sick. In this emergency the friendship of the sisters, their intimacy with Jesus, suggests to them to send to Him first of all. Here was a whole family of disciples that had learned to place their trust in the Lord without reserve. The sickness of Lazarus was severe, as the repetition. of the statement shows, and the notice which the sisters sent to the Lord shows all the anxiety of their hearts. It was really an urgent, pleading request: Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. A remarkable, wonderful distinction to be the beloved of the Lord! But it belongs to all Christians of all times: Jesus loves them, has loved them from eternity, and loves them especially since they have accepted His salvation. It is really a model prayer which the sisters sent by their messenger. The mere announcement of trouble is all that is necessary where the Lord is concerned. The words of Jesus when He received the message are rather enigmatic. This sickness was not unto death, He told His disciples, although He knew that physical death had either taken place or was imminent. The Lord's statement was true in a double sense. The illness was not unto eternal death: no sickness of any Christian will terminate in such away that it will bring him to everlasting death. And the sickness was not unto physical death, because it would give Jesus an opportunity to show His glory and His power over the king of terrors. This sickness would yet have such results that the Son of God would be glorified, that the praise and honor due Him would be forthcoming in greater measure than ever. The evangelist again emphasizes that Jesus loved all three of His disciples in this little family circle. But He made no move to hasten to the bedside of His beloved friend. After the time when He received the message, He still purposely remained in the place where He had been sojourning for two days. The manner in which Jesus deals with those whom He loves may sometimes make the impression upon foolish human minds as though He were not earnestly concerned about their welfare. But an enduring, patient trust in His wisdom and love will never be brought to shame. "God's delays in answering prayers offered to Him by persons in distress are often proofs of His purpose to confer some great kindness; and they are also proofs that His wisdom finds it necessary to permit an increase of the affliction, that His goodness may be more conspicuous in its removal." 53)
The return to Judea: V. 7. Then after that saith He to His disciples, Let us go into Judea again. V. 8. His disciples say unto Him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again? V. 9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. V. 10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. Jesus, after the deliberate delay, announced in a most casual way that He intended to return to Judea, by inviting His disciples to make the journey with Him. But the disciples were filled with apprehension at the prospect. It was probably just as much fear for their own safety as for that; of the Lord which caused them to remind Him of the recent attempts of the Jews to stone Him, chap. 8, 59; 10, 31. They believed that He should consider His safety first and not expose Himself to danger. Jesus answers their objections in a parable. A person that walks about in the day will not stumble and fall, for there is sufficient light to guide his footsteps and to show him obstructions. But if a person walks around in the darkness, harm may easily befall him, since there is no light to point out hindrances and pitfalls. The eye can be of service only during the day and in the light. The explanation which the Lord wished to convey to His disciples is evident. While His day, as appointed to Him by the Father, lasted, He must continue to walk and to work, and no one could hinder and hurt Him. The last hour, the end of His life, the time of dark suffering, anguish, and sorrow, had not yet come. The Jews would not be able to vent their spite until the time specified and fixed by His Father in the eternal council of love had come. This is true of all disciples of Jesus. So long as the day of their life and work lasts, so long they may carry on their labors without real hindrance. The Lord has fixed the length of each one's labor, to the one a greater, to the other a smaller measure. During that time the believers, each in his own station, but in the service of the Lord, will do his share for the Master. At the Lord's time, and not before, He will call His servants home.
The announcement of the death of Lazarus: V. 11. These things said He; and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. V. 12. Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. V. 13. Howbeit Jesus spoke of his death; but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. V. 14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. V. 15. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. V. 16. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go that we may die with Him. After quieting the fears of His disciples as to His own safety, Jesus thought the time fitting to make His important announcement. He told them that Lazarus, their friend, was lying asleep, was even now sound asleep. That is the Lord's manner of speaking of death, as of a sleep. He knew of the death of Lazarus by His omniscience, and He wanted to impart this knowledge to the disciples in a form with which they should have been familiar from the Old Testament manner of speaking. It is a great comfort for the believers that the Lord Himself speaks of the death of His disciples as a falling asleep; it is a quiet and secure rest in the interval between this life and that of the Kingdom of Glory. Jesus also stated His intention of going to Bethany for the purpose of awaking Lazarus from his sleep, of bringing him back to this life for a season. But the disciples, with their usual denseness, did not understand the Lord's speech, but thought only of physical sleep. Their immediate inference is that a quiet sleep in severe sickness usually points to a quick recovery, and that therefore they need not take the dangerous step of returning to Judea. Jesus therefore told them in plain, unmistakable words that Lazarus had died. He had permitted His friend to die. And Jesus was glad on their account that He had not been present in Bethany at the time of His friend's dying. He had the purpose of strengthening their faith by a miracle which He intended to perform shortly, the greatest of all His miracles, in a manner of speaking. He wanted to start out for Bethany at once, in order to realize His object. It was at this point that Thomas, called Didymus (twin), showed His misunderstanding of the entire situation. He thought that Jesus was deliberately walking to His death, and he urged the other disciples to go along. He felt equal to the ordeal of going into death with his Master, for the love which he now felt for Him. The love of Christ puts divine courage into the heart of the most timid Christian.
The faith of Martha: V. 17. Then when Jesus came, He found that he had lain in the grave four days already. V. 18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off; V. 19. and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother. V. 20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him; but Mary sat still in the house. V. 21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. V. 22. But I know that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee. The journey from that section of Perea where Jesus had been staying to Bethany took about two days, and when Jesus therefore reached the town, He was greeted with the intelligence that Lazarus had been in the grave four days. The burial of the dead in warmer countries must take place very quickly, lest decay set in. In the house of Martha and Mary there was a large assembly of mourners and sympathizers. Since the distance from Jerusalem was only fifteen staid, a matter of a little more than 3,000 yards, many Jews from the capital city had come to the sisters to express their condolence in their bereavement. It seems that Mary and Martha had a host of acquaintances, if not of friends, in Jerusalem. The days of deep mourning lasted for seven days, during which it was forbidden to wash, to anoint oneself, to put on shoes, to study, or to engage in any business. Just as soon as the news of Christ's coming had been conveyed to Martha, she left the house to meet Him. She was eager to hear words of comfort out of His mouth; for mere men cannot take away the sorrow of death. But the comfort and sympathy of Jesus is of a nature to drive away all the piercing pain or grief. If people, in every bereavement and sorrow, would only turn at once to the consolation of the Lord's Word, there would never be the severe after-effects of unrestrained grief after the manner of this world, 1 Thess. 4, 13. Mary remained at home, sitting on the ground or on a low stool, according to Jewish custom; for all chairs and couches are reversed at the time of the burial. It was not merely her sorrow and distress that caused her to remain at home, but the fact that she wanted to give her older sister, the mistress of the house, the first opportunity to talk to the Savior. No sooner had Martha come to Jesus than she called out to Him: Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died. There is just the slightest shade of reproach in the words, but also the firm trust and faith in the Lord's ability to help in all vicissitudes of life. The mere presence of Christ in the house of sickness would have banished death and its terrors. And even now, she goes on to say, she knows and is firmly convinced that every petition of Christ is heard by His heavenly Father. Martha naturally used the same expressions which she had so often heard out of the mouth of Jesus. The Lord had always referred His works to the Father, and stated that He worked at the will of the Father. So Martha also expressed her strong faith in the terms with which she had become familiar. If only a Christian has such sound foundation for his faith, resting it upon the conviction gained from the Word of Christ, then he is able to conquer anything.
Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life: V. 23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. V. 24. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. V. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; V. 26. and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this? V. 27. She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord; I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. Jesus answered Martha's pleading with a beautiful word of comfort, which incidentally tests her faith. The words sounded as though Jesus were referring only to the final resurrection, on the last day. Here was the hope of faith to which she could always cling. And Martha proved equal to the test; she, with all the other true believers among the Jews, believed in the resurrection of the dead. If nothing more were forthcoming from the hand of Jesus, she would be fully satisfied with this gift of His grace. But her words: I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day, conveyed her hope that the Lord would help also at the present time, at once. This proof of Martha's humble, but firm trust in Him drew from Jesus that. gem of sayings which is the glorious anchor of faith throughout the ages. Jesus, our Savior, is the Resurrection and the Life. All life, and the giving and returning of life to men, is centered in Him. Eternal life is in Him from eternity. And therefore He can give life, even when death had apparently claimed a person for his own. And with the resurrection the true life in and with Him will have its beginning. We Christians believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, because our faith rests upon Him who died for us and rose again, in order that we might live with Him forever. The believers, therefore, though they seemingly succumb to temporal death, yet have life, are full possessors of life in the very midst of death, they are partakers and sharers with Christ in the full and complete life that had no beginning for Him and shall have no end for them that put their trust in His redemption alone. Death is only the gateway to the full and perfect life; it has no terrors for the Christian, since it has been swallowed up in victory by the resurrection of Jesus. Whatever experience believers have of death is all on this side of the grave; here the fear of death and the terrors of hell sometimes assail them very keenly. But they conquer all these horrors through faith in the words of Christ, and in the very moment of dying, death is overcome; they fall asleep in the wounds of Jesus, and in the next moment they awake in heaven. Since this trust must be found in the heart of every believer, Jesus puts the searching question to Martha: Believest thou this? And Martha joyfully assents and expresses her unwavering faith in her Lord as the promised Christ, the Son of God, as He was prophesied by all the patriarchs and sages of old, whose work should culminate in the overcoming of the last bitter enemy, death. Note: The certainty of the resurrection of the body, as based upon the work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, always inspires new hope in the hearts of the believers, even in the days of the greatest sorrow and misfortune, in the midst of sickness and death. This word: I believe in the resurrection of the body, is stronger than death. Though the dead may have rested in their graves for hundreds and even thousands of years, though their flesh has long since been consumed by worms and their bones have fallen into dust, yet they shall arise on the last day.
Mary's coming to the Lord: V. 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. V. 29. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came unto Him. V. 30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him. V. 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. V. 32. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Martha had gone to the Lord for comfort, and she had received it in full measure. Instead of getting the customary cold sympathy and a stereotyped mumbling of condolence which leaves the heart empty, she had received such an assurance as filled her heart with joy and peace. And she wanted her sister to partake of the same comforting hope. So she hurried back home, and on account of the presence of the Jews, of whose enmity toward Christ she was fully aware, she called Mary aside and told her privately that the Master was near by and called her. Jesus had not expressed the wish to see Mary, but the intuition of Martha was not wrong in concluding that He would be only too glad to bring comfort to this sister also. Mary lost no time in hurrying to Jesus. Leaving the assembly of mourners without so much as a word of explanation, she went out of the town to meet Jesus along the way, for Jesus was tarrying at the place where Martha had spoken to Him. He had purposely delayed His coming, since He wanted to see and talk to the sisters alone. But when Mary hurried from the house, the Jews that were present thought that she had been overcome by a paroxysm of grief and intended to weep at the grave. So they followed her, probably with the intention of consoling her as best they could. But she left them far behind, came to Jesus, and fell down at His feet with the same words of firm faith in His power to help, not unmixed with gentle reproach, as those used by her sister. A similar lament is heard also in our days. There is a reminder connected with it that the Lord could and therefore should have prevented the misfortune. This in itself is not sinful, for a dead apathy is not a Christian virtue, but it must not go to that limit that it accuses or asks the reason for the chastising. That would be inexcusable.
The sorrow of Jesus: V. 33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, V. 34. and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see. V. 35. Jesus wept. V. 36. Then said the Jews, Behold, how He loved him! V. 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? While Mary had poured out the sorrow of her heart to the Lord, the Jews that had been in the house with her also came up. Now Mary was weeping and wailing, and the Jews joined her, for such deep and unrestrained sorrow is infectious. All this moved Jesus very deeply; He was indignant in the spirit, deeply affected. The spectacle distressed Him so badly that He worked Himself up into a state of anxiety and emotion. He was strongly agitated over the power which the enemy of mankind, death, was here exhibiting over human beings. For death had certainly shown himself in this instance as the king of terrors, in taking from these sisters their brother and protector, one who was, besides, a friend to Himself. Death is a cruel enemy, for in a moment he destroys the happiness of families and friends, and rends the closest ties asunder. And behind death stands the hideous figure of him that has the power of death, the devil, the murderer from the beginning. Jesus inquired for the location of the grave, since He wanted those present to accompany Him there. He, the Source and Champion of life, here went forth to meet the enemy of life and to tear his prey from him. This He could do, for He was more than a mere human being; He possessed the power of Almighty God. But that He was also a true human being He here showed. For as the procession was coming near to the grave, the tears arose to the eyes of Jesus, and He wept. The feeling of grief was so strong as to draw these tears from His eyes. And with His tears He hallowed the tears, the grief, of the believers at the graves of those that are dear to them. This action of Jesus elicited various comments. Some of the Jews were deeply moved by this touching show of love and sympathy. But others were skeptical. They knew of His healing of the man that had been born blind, and in a half-puzzled, half-jeering way asked why He did not prevent death, with such power at His disposal. The fact that unbelievers sneer at the one or the other feature of Christianity should in no way discourage the Christians in their work, for if Christ had such experiences, His followers can expect no less.
The arrival at the grave: V. 38. Jesus, therefore, again groaning in Himself, cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. V. 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. V. 40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? V. 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. V. 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. When Jesus was aware of the bitter mockery which His enemies were trying to heap upon Him even at this time, He was again strongly agitated, filled with indignation, but this time over their unreasonableness and blindness. That is the height of hypocrisy, when people assume a pious behavior, but incidentally are full of enmity and hatred toward Christ. Meanwhile they had come to the grave, which was an opening hewn into the rock, upon which a large stone had been laid. When Jesus told some of the men present to lift off the stone, Martha interposed. The body was now, literally, one of four days; it had lain in the grave for four days, and therefore she knew that decay had progressed to such an extent as to make the odor extremely unpleasant. In the greatness of her grief Martha was not using her spiritual mind. She probably thought that Jesus merely wanted to take a last look at the face of His friend. Thus the believers, in the bitter hour, when they see the evidences of death and decay before their eyes, are so absorbed in the contemplation of their terrors that they no longer lift up their minds to the King of Life. The Lord reproved Martha for the smallness of her faith, for He had held out to her the certainty of seeing the glory of God before her eyes. In the resurrection of the dead the glory of God is revealed. If we but believe with all our hearts in Christ, who is the Resurrection and the Life, we shall see the glory of God, when He raises the dead from their graves. When the stone had then been lifted off, Jesus raised His eyes to heaven and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving, indicating the intimacy of the union between the Father and Himself. The Lord had repeatedly said that He had been sent by the Father to perform certain works and miracles, and that He did nothing without the Father, and this prayer again gave evidence to that effect. He spoke with full confidence as though the soul of Lazarus had even then returned to his dead body. He thanked His Father for hearing Him; He expressed the certainty of His knowledge that He would always be heard in the same way; and He stated that He made His prayer for the sake of the people present, that they might see the intimacy obtaining between them, and that they might believe in His mission from the Father. Jesus here appears as true man, who, before undertaking a difficult task, looks up to God and pleads for His help. And the Lord's prayer is a model also in this respect, that true faith thanks God for the receipt of His gifts and mercies even in advance, knowing that the granting of the petition is certain.
The miracle and its effect: V. 43, And when He had thus spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. V. 44. And he 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. V. 45. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. V. 46. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. After Jesus had spoken His prayer to His heavenly Father, He did not delay. Addressing Himself to the corpse in the grave, He commanded the dead man with a loud voice: Lazarus, come forth; literally: Hither, out! And the almighty word caused the miracle to happen, brought the man upon whom the process of decay had begun back to life, and gave him the strength to leave the grave, though he was still bound with the customary grave-clothes and had his face covered with a sudary. Jesus merely told the bystanders to remove the confining bandages which hindered the man's movements, and then to permit him to leave, as the curious glances of the multitude would be most embarrassing to him. There can be no doubt as to the reality of the miracle. The man Jesus Christ has power over death; He calls the dead back to life at will. The human nature was the means and instrument of Christ, of His almighty, divine power, it partakes of the divine majesty. This is the greatest miracle which Christ performed, so far as is recorded in Scripture, with the exception of His own resurrection. It is the guarantee of our hope and belief in the resurrection on the last day, when His almighty voice will call our bodies forth from the graves. The effect of such an exceptional miracle was twofold. Some of the Jews that had come to the sisters now were fully convinced as to the truth of Christ's words and works; they believed in Him. But others there were whose hearts had even then been hardened beyond recall. They took occasion to report the miracle to the Pharisees, in order that these arch-enemies might make their plans accordingly. It was the fate of Christ, as it is that of His Gospel and its proclamation, to be to some a savor of death unto death, to others a savor of life unto life. Blessed are they that put their trust in Him!
The Council of the Jews concerning Christ's Removal. John 11, 47-57.
The prophecy of Caiaphas: V. 47. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council and said, What do we? For this man doeth many miracles. V. 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. V. 49. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, V. 50. nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. V. 51. And this spake he not of himself, but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation, V. 52. and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. The matter of the raising of Lazarus was deemed so important that an immediate meeting of the Sanhedrin seemed advisable. Here the chief priests, who were Sadducees, and their enemies, the Pharisees, came together in perfect harmony, since the object was to remove the hated Nazarene. When the meeting had been assembled, they asked one another the frank question: Here this man is doing many signs and miracles, and what are we doing about it? They could not deny the fact that miracles were being performed by Jesus, but they hardened their hearts as to their meaning and purpose. Their one concern was as to the possible consequences to themselves and to the Jewish nation as a political unit. If they would take no steps to hinder this ministry of miracles, the result would be that all the common people would believe in Him as the Messiah. The chances were that they would then proclaim Him king of Judea, and this, in turn, would result in the Jews' losing the last remnant of political power and standing. The Romans would simply come and destroy the city and lead the people away into captivity. The Jewish leaders did not know that they were thereby stating the fate of both city and nation which came upon them because of their rejection of the King of Grace. But while the members of the Sanhedrin were thus debating the question, Caiaphas, the high priest of that year, arose and made a statement amounting to a solution of the problem as it lay before them. He told them: Ye know nothing at all. They were talking nonsense and offering no sensible means for removing the difficulty. They did not consider the most obvious mode of procedure. The most expedient thing would obviously be to have this one man, who, in their opinion, was responsible for the agitation and unrest among the people, die. As Caiaphas put the matter: It is expedient for you that one man die for, in the stead of, the people, and the whole nation perish not. Here was cold-blooded craftiness; for the suggestion evidently was to have Jesus put to death as quickly as possible. By sacrificing Jesus, they would both rid themselves of a troublesome person and give to the Roman authorities an evidence of their loyalty. But aside from their meaning for the situation at that time, the words of Caiaphas, as the evangelist points out, were an unconscious, but none the less glorious prophecy. Jesus should die, not only for Israel, but for the whole world, and His death should result in a gathering and final uniting into one great spiritual communion of all that would believe on Him and thus receive the benefit of His death. In all nations of the earth are such as will become the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. They were at that time still scattered far and wide, but as the preaching of the Gospel has reached them, they have turned from their idols to the living God and have joined the communion of saints.
The result of the deliberations: V. 53. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put Him to death. V. 54. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews, but went thence into a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with His disciples. V. 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. V. 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? V. 57. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where He were, he should show it, that they might take Him. The members of the Sanhedrin acted upon the summary declaration of Caiaphas as they understood it, for it agreed with the inmost wishes of the majority of them. They formulated no definite plan on that day, but whenever they came together for their meetings in the Hall of Polished Stones, they reverted also to this important business, and considered ways and means for putting Christ to death with some show of right. Jesus was fully aware of their resolutions and intentions, and He therefore purposely avoided Jerusalem for a while, sojourning in a little town named Ephraim, northeast of Jerusalem, near the wilderness of Bethaven, until He should be ready for the last great Passion. Meanwhile the festival of the Passover was again drawing near, and the usual advance guard of pilgrims arrived at Jerusalem. Most of these came so early because they had to perform certain Levitical purifications before they could take part in the festival, Num. 9, 10; 2 Chron. 30, 17. Many of these people were anxious to see Jesus, and He was one of the chief topics of conversation wherever a group of people assembled in the Temple and elsewhere. There were all manner of guesses as to whether He would dare to come up for the feast, since the definite command had now been issued that He must be apprehended. The orders were that anyone knowing the whereabouts of the Nazarene must give information. There was no need for them to anticipate: when Christ's hour was come, He appeared in Jerusalem of His own free will.
Summary. Jesus raises His friend Lazarus from the grave, where he had lain for four days, whereupon His death is determined upon by the rulers of the Jews, orders being issued which aimed at His apprehension.