|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:11-16 Since we are sure to rise again at the last, why should not the believing hope of that resurrection to eternal life, make it as easy for us to put off the body and die, as it is to put off our clothes and go to sleep? A true Christian, when he dies, does but sleep; he rests from the labours of the past day. Nay, herein death is better than sleep, that sleep is only a short rest, but death is the end of earthly cares and toils. The disciples thought that it was now needless for Christ to go to Lazarus, and expose himself and them. Thus we often hope that the good work we are called to do, will be done by some other hand, if there be peril in the doing of it. But when Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, many were brought to believe on him; and there was much done to make perfect the faith of those that believed. Let us go to him; death cannot separate from the love of Christ, nor put us out of the reach of his call. Like Thomas, in difficult times Christians should encourage one another. The dying of the Lord Jesus should make us willing to die whenever God calls us.
Verse 15. - And I rejoice that I was not there. Death could not have occurred in his presence; at least, as Bengel says, we never read of any one dying in the presence of the Prince of life. Whenever he came into contact with death, he conquered the great enemy. Still, this was not the absolute reason for his gladness. The gladness was conditioned by the need of the disciples, not merely for the comfort of the sisters, or for his own greater glory, but for your sakes, to the end that ye might believe. The word πιστεύω is often used absolutely (John 1:7, 50; John 4:41, 42; John 5:44; John 6:36; and many other places). The disciples had believed something of Christ's power before (see John 2:11, etc.); but every act of faith prepares the way for another. Every fresh exercise of faith makes all previous efforts in the same direction appear elementary (cf. 1 John 5:13, T.R.). The joy of Jesus in the augmenting faith of his disciples is one of the most pathetic and instructive features of this Gospel (see John 16:31, and notes). The kingdom of God among men was, so far as we can see, dependent on the amount of faith that the apostles could be induced to cherish in the fact of the Incarnation during the brief period of this ministry. The Church has not yet come to a full understanding of all that he was. But if the disciples had not known his power over death, they would have been destitute of the alphabet of this new language, of the foundations of the spiritual city they had to build. Jesus rejoiced when disciples believed. So he does still. Nevertheless, let us go to him - to Lazarus, who still lives with God (cf. Matthew 22:32, and parallel passages). This is very remarkable. Even the dead body is in this case still (cf. John 14:31).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there,.... At Bethany, before he died, or when he died; because he might have been prevailed upon through the solicitations of his dear friends, Mary and Martha, and through tender affection to Lazarus, to have prevented his death, by rebuking the distemper, and restoring him to health, or to have raised him immediately as soon as he was dead; and in either case the miracle would not have been so illustrious, nor have been such a means of confirming the faith of his disciples, as now it would be:
to the intent ye may believe; more strongly, that he was the Son of God, and true Messiah:
nevertheless, let us go unto him; to Lazarus, to the grave where he lies: the Syriac version reads, "let us go there"; to Bethany, where he lived, and died, and now lay interred.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. I am glad for your sakes I was not there—This certainly implies that if He had been present, Lazarus would not have died; not because He could not have resisted the importunities of the sisters, but because, in presence of the personal Life, death could not have reached His friend [Luthardt]. "It is beautifully congruous to the divine decorum that in presence of the Prince of Life no one is ever said to have died" [Bengel].
that ye may believe—This is added to explain His "gladness" at not having been present. His friend's death, as such, could not have been to Him "joyous"; the sequel shows it was "grievous"; but for them it was safe (Php 3:1).
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