35.  Jesus wept.

Our Lord was not only fully God, but also was fully man, and He demonstrated that here in that He shed tears, which is the meaning of this word for “wept” in the Greek.  He did not wail or mourn in the traditional way, as many of those who had come out to attend this funeral were no doubt doing.  Rather, He shed tears, and these tears were not for show, as were those of many of the professional mourners, but rather were from the heart.

Some people work up a certain measure of guilt about mourning or weeping at the death of a dear, loved one.  They seem to think that it is not proper somehow or not showing the right amount of faith to weep at the death of one near to their hearts.  Yet the Lord showed no such attitude.  He was affected by the death of this one He loved, and He showed it by shedding tears.
36.  Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

The Jews recognized in these heartfelt tears of our Lord, even though they were not accompanied by the weeping and wailing of the traditional mourners, more real love and heartache than that showed by many of those who were more outwardly demonstrative.   They interpreted these tears as being the result of the Lord’s love for this man Lazarus.  While He did love the man, we have to believe that there was more to the Lord’s weeping than this.  Although no one can say for certain why He wept, we might imagine that, seeing the results of death firsthand like this and realizing as only God could the centuries of heartache, sorrow, and loss that death has brought both before and since that time, that He wept for this and not just for this one man who had just then died, though he was certainly a part of it.  The price of sin is high, and mankind has been paying it for a long, long time.  The sad situation we are in is, indeed, one worth mourning over.
37.  And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

Although some of them were convinced of His love for Lazarus by His shedding of tears, others seemed to doubt.  They speculated that the Lord could have healed Lazarus, hearkening back to His opening of the eyes of the blind.  Remember, that was a spectacular miracle that He had worked that had never been worked before, opening the eyes of one who had been born blind.  Thus, these Jews almost seem to suggest that our Lord, had He cared for Lazarus more, could have kept him somehow from dying, and thus seem to doubt that His love for Lazarus is as strong as it seems.

38.  Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.

The Lord Jesus finally arrives at the tomb, still greatly troubled in His heart.  This tomb is described to us as a cave with a stone rolled against it as a door.  This was the traditional method of burying the rich in that day, and was how our Lord was buried as well, as we will see later in John.

39.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

The Lord, in preparing for the miracle He is about to work, commands that the stone be rolled away.  Martha, mistaking His intention and thinking that He merely wishes to see Lazarus one last time, argues with Him that Lazarus’ body will by now have begun to stink, for corruption and putrefaction will have set in by the fourth day.

40.  Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?”

What He had said to her earlier was that her brother would rise again, and that He is the resurrection and the life.  What then did He mean that if she believed she would see the glory of God?  I believe that He was referring to those earlier statements He had made about Himself…that He is the resurrection and the life.  II Corinthians 4:6 says, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  From this verse we learn that the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ…in the person of Jesus Christ.  Thus, He meant that by believing, she would perceive the glory of God as being contained in the One standing before her, and would see that glory demonstrated in the display of resurrection power that He was about to perform.

41.  Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying.  And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.

Upon the Lord’s admonition to Martha, those present obey His command and roll the stone away.  Then the Lord proceeds to pray to His Father.  Notice that He does not ask the Father to hear Him, but rather thanks the Father that He has already done so.  This would seem to imply that He had already prayed and made this request.  This could have either been done earlier, perhaps before He ever set out for Bethany, or else this could have been an unspoken request that He had prayed silently in His mind to His Father, perhaps even on the short journey to the tomb.

42.  “And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.”

The Father always hears the Son, and He would never deny Him any request.  The Lord knew this, and so He reveals to us that He did not speak this because there was any doubt that the Father would grant His request, for He always does so, but that rather He spoke this so that those who stood by might believe that God had sent Him.  “Sent” here is the Greek word apostello, and means that He was sent and commissioned with authority from His Father.  That authority is what He was about to demonstrate in raising Lazarus from the dead.

We should not forget this truth that the Father always hears the Son.  There are many who believe that the Father did not grant the Son’s last two requests.  This belief is false.  This principle, that the Father never refuses anything the Son asks for, is one that is both crucial and logical.  Since the Son is one with His Father, He would never ask anything that was outside His Father’s will.  And since the Father is one with the Son, He would never refuse to grant anything that the Son asked Him.  They are always in agreement, since they are always one.

43.  Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “”Lazarus, come forth!”

Now He speaks to Lazarus, commanding Him to come forth.  Remember, this is the same God Who spoke the heavens and the earth into existence by His Word.  Nothing, not even death, can hinder His will from being accomplished and can stop His Word from being fulfilled when it goes forth with power.  Thus, although death might have tried to prevent Him, when the Master Himself called, this dead man could not help but obey and come forth.

Notice that He specifically called to Lazarus to come forth.  Perhaps if He had not named him in particular, all who were buried within the sound of His voice would have responded and come forth!  Indeed, how great will be the day when the Lord will speak the names of His people, and around the world they will hear and, like Lazarus, they will obey and come forth.

44.  And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

It is unlikely that even a living, fully healthy man could have been able to obey this command and come forth bound hand and foot with these restrictive graveclothes, had the command to come forth been made by the power of a mere man.  Yet the Lord was the One Who gave this command, and thus the graveclothes could no more prevent him from obeying than death itself could.  How he came forth we are not told…hopping, perhaps, or floating, or perhaps with the graveclothes themselves miraculously loosening around his legs enough to allow him to walk.  At any rate, however he did it, he obeyed the Lord’s command and came forth, and the Lord commanded those standing by to free him from the graveclothes and let him go.  What a wonderous miracle this must have seemed to them!  Surely they were shocked beyond belief.  And how much greater will the resurrection be in that future day when men are raised, even those who have been dead and gone for thousands of years!

Notice that his face was also still wrapped in the cloth that would traditionally cover it.  In the case of our Lord’s resurrection, this cloth was removed and folded in its place.  Note that this even increases the power of the miracle, for he did not die in the tomb, of course, and so upon waking in it and not being able to see because of his eyes being covered, he would have also been disoriented and would have had no idea how to get out of the tomb, even if he could have gotten up and walked.  Thus, his unerring exit from the tomb at the Lord’s call was yet another miracle.

45.  Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him.

Not all of the privileged, rich class of the Jews were so dead set against the Lord that they would not believe when the evidence was presented to their senses so clearly and powerfully.  Thus, many of those gathered here examine the evidence and come to the only reasonable conclusion that such a sign could bring one to: faith in the Lord Jesus.

46.  But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did.

Others of the Jews present, however, amazingly did not respond to this incredible event with belief.  Rather, they acted as spies for the Pharisees, and immediately went to them to report what the Lord had done.  Remember, it was known now that the Pharisees were seeking to harm the Lord.  That is why Mary and Martha had tried to keep His presence secret, before He so boldly and openly announced it by this miracle.  Thus, these Jews knew exactly what they were doing when they went to the Pharisees with this news of Him.  That they were acting in this manner in the face of such a miracle is almost staggering.  Unbelief in some is a powerful force indeed, and was able to overcome even the response that such a powerful sign as this should have produced.

The varying responses of these two groups of Jews, those who believed and those who did not believe, should bring back to our minds the one, great purpose of the book of John: that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing have life through His name.  So I ask you, what will your response be to this incredible miracle?  Will you, like many of the Jews, marvel at this truth and believe that the One Who could perform such a sign must be God Himself?  Or, like the spies of the Pharisees, will you pass even this great event off as nothing and hold stubbornly to unbelief?  The choice is yours!

47.  Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.

The chief priests and Pharisees gather together the Sanhedrin.  Remember, that was the supreme religious ruling body and court in Israel.  According to The Companion Bible, it consisted of seventy-one members, traditionally corresponding to the seventy elders with Moses at their head.  They met in the “stone chamber” in the temple courts.  Now, they gather together to discuss Christ.  They know very well that the signs He is working point toward His being the Messiah.  Yet they realize that He refuses to go along with their authority, and realize that if they acknowledge Him to be the Christ, they will have to give up their own positions, or at least submit themselves under Him.  This, it seems, they were unwilling to do.  Thus, they conclude that they have to do something to stop the Lord, since He is working many signs.

48.  “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”

They well knew that if they allowed the Lord to continue working miracles like this, that the vast majority of people in Israel would end up believing that He was Who these signs made Him out to be: the long-awaited Messiah.  Thus, they believed that soon all the people would be following Him.  Then, they conclude, the people will set Him up as a King, and Rome, angered by such insolence, will come to destroy Israel.  This was merely justification for the action they were about to take, as we know that Rome had no problem with nations having local rulers, as even then Herod was the king over much of the land.  Pilate, whose job was to know about potential threats, seemed to see in the Lord and His teaching no implied threat to the Roman Empire at all.  Yet the Jews ascribed to the Lord the same anti-Roman sentiments that all the false Messiahs who were constantly arising in Israel had, and assumed that He too, when in a position of power, would rebel against Rome.  They also assumed, by their fleshly reasoning, that such a rebellion would fail, and that the Romans would destroy both the nation and the temple.  We know that the Jews’ place and nation were indeed taken away around forty years after this, but not because of the actions of the Lord and His followers, but rather because of the rebellion of those who clung to radical Judaism.

Notice that the Jews refer to these things as “theirs”.  No thought was in their minds that this was God’s nation and God’s temple.  Rather, these things they had appropriated for themselves, as is shown by their unwillingness to yield them up to the true Heir when He came to them.  Thus, in their words, they did not even pretend to hold these things in stewardship for God, but rather pronounced them “theirs.”  Theirs truly was the spirit of rebellion!

49.  And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “”You know nothing at all,

Now Caiaphas the high priest speaks up.  He had just become the high priest that year, having been appointed to the position about six months before this.  Now he accuses them of speaking out of ignorance of the real situation.

50.  “Nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.”

He points out what he felt was a necessity for them: that though they did not like to plan a man’s death, that they must slay this One Man Jesus so that the whole nation would not perish.

51.  Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,

Now the Spirit explains the situation to us.  These words of Caiaphas were not his own, but were given to him by God.  After all, he was the high priest, a position set up and established by God, and though he was in open rebellion against God, God could use him to speak His words if He so desired.  Thus, He uses Caiaphas here.  Now it is unlikely that Caiaphas had any idea of the real meaning of the words he was saying.  He was just thinking that they must kill the Lord so that the Romans would not come and destroy their place in the temple and their nation.  Yet what the Spirit that spoke through Caiaphas meant by this was far deeper, and spoke to the fact that the Lord’s death was on behalf of the entire nation of Israel to save it from its sins.  Thus, he spoke this word as a prophecy, and not merely as part of the evil council of the Jews.

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

This does not speak, as so many would make it to, of the Gentiles.  This is not speaking of a bunch of lost sinners as if they were children wandering away from God and He was searching for them and bringing them back in.  This has nothing to do with sinners and their Savior.  Rather, this is speaking of the Israelites dispersed outside the land and living abroad among the many nations of the Roman Empire.  This gathering together was partially fulfilled in the Acts period when all the Israelites, whether inside the land or out of it, were gathered together into one Body by believing in the Lord as their Messiah.  But this also refers to that great time in the future when God establishes His Kingdom on earth and calls all Israelites back to their land to serve Him there.  The Lord’s death is what took away the sins of that nation and thus paved the road for this remarkable event when it occurs.

53.  Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.

This third miracle of our Lord’s that so angered the Pharisees, following after that on the lame man and on the blind man that also enraged them, finally made up their minds that His death was the only way to put a stop to His work.  Thus, having reached this awful conclusion, the Sanhedrin starts to plot from this day forward to find some judicial pretext for putting the Lord to death.
54.  Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.

The Lord, still not seeking open conflict with the Jews until the proper time, removed Himself from among them into the country near the wilderness.  This does not mean that He went into the desert, but merely left the city and went into the country to where people lived.  There in the country He stayed in a city (or what we might call more a small town) called Ephraim with His disciples.  This is probably the modern Ophrah, according to The Companion Bible, and was only about sixteen miles from Jerusalem.  Thus, He did not remove Himself very far, but only enough to put some distance between Himself and those who sought to kill Him.
55.  And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves.

The time of the feast of the Passover was near.  Notice again that this is called “the Passover of the Jews,” either because the Jews had so corrupted it and claimed it for their own (as they did the temple and nation in verse 48,) or else to emphasize to Gentile readers that this feast is not for us.

Now, the people start to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover there, for that is the only place where that feast could be celebrated properly according to the Law.  Many are going up early, as we see here, to purify themselves from any sort of uncleanness.
56.  Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think–that He will not come to the feast?”

The people arriving at the feast sought for the Lord Jesus.  He was becoming a very popular figure, and these people no doubt hoped to see Him to learn more about Him.  Yet, not finding Him there and knowing His quarrel with the Jewish leaders, they speculate among themselves, thinking that perhaps He will choose not to come to the feast in order to avoid conflict with them.

57.  Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.

The chief priests and Pharisees had given this command, hoping, as we know from the previous verses, to arrest Him and put Him to death.  Probably most of the people arriving in Jerusalem would not have heard of the enmity that the Jews there had for the Lord, and this would explain their seeking Him as they arrived there.  Upon hearing of this command of the Jews, however, they start to conclude that most likely He will not come up to the feast at all.  We know, however, that the Lord had other plans, and that the time for His confrontation with these leaders was now almost at hand.