John 11:23
Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.
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(23) Thy brother shall rise again.—These words, spoken as they were by our Lord after the purpose of His journey, as expressed in John 11:11, and immediately before the accomplishment of it, cannot be taken to exclude the restoration of Lazarus to physical life. At the same time, the form of the words clearly point, as Martha understood them to point, to “the resurrection at the last day.” They are chosen for this very purpose; to lead her from the passionate longing for her brother’s restoration, and from a vague thought of the Lord’s power and will to restore him, to a wider and truer conception of what life really is, and to a realisation of the truth that for a true believer in Him there can be no such thing as death. This “sign,” like every other, is to be no mere wonder, nor is it to be limited to our restored life. It is to lead to the spiritual truth which is signified; and is to be for them and for mankind the true conquest of death by Life.

John 11:23-24. Jesus — Beholding her distress with a compassionate concern; saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again — Martha, in her complaint, looked back, reflecting with regret that Christ had not come before her brother’s death, and thinking, if he had, her brother would have been now alive. And we are very apt, in such cases, like her, to add to our trouble, by fancying what might have been, if we had taken other measures or used other means, had employed certain physicians, or administered some particular medicines. But, alas! what use is there in such reflections, when God’s will is done, and our duty is to submit to it? Christ directs Martha, and us in her, to look forward, and to think what shall be, for that yields sure comfort: Thy brother shall rise again. Here observe, 1st, This was true of Lazarus in a sense peculiar to him; he was now immediately to be raised. Christ, however, does not say this in express words, much less that he himself should effect his resurrection, (for humility was a distinguishing trait in his character,) but, for the further trial of her faith and patience, he speaks ambiguously, and leaves her in uncertainty whether he should be raised presently, or not till the last day. 2d, It is applicable to all the saints, and the future resurrection. And it is surely matter of comfort to us, when we have buried our godly friends and relations, to believe and consider that they shall rise again; and that, as the soul at death is not lost, but gone before, so the body is not lost, but laid up. Let us think we hear Christ saying, Thy father, thy mother, thy wife, thy husband, thy child, shall rise again; these dry bones shall live! Martha — Not daring to understand him in a sense that favoured her wishes, namely, that he should be raised immediately; said, I know that he shall rise again at the last day

Though the doctrine of a general resurrection was to have its full proof from Christ’s resurrection, yet, as it had been revealed in the Old Testament, she firmly believed it, as the pious Jews in general did, Acts 24:15; yet she seems to think this doctrine not so important, or calculated to comfort mourners on the death of their relatives, as it really was. For her words seem to imply, Though I know he shall rise again at the last day, yet that affords us but little support now, in the distressing bereavement that we have experienced: as if the blessing of a resurrection to eternal life were not of much greater importance, and much more replete with comfort to a truly pious person, than any recovery from sickness, or restoration to temporal health or life, in this present world of trial and trouble. Alas! that we should be so weak and foolish, as to suffer present, sensible things, to make a deeper impression upon us, both of grief and joy, than those spiritual and eternal things which are the great objects of faith and hope! I know that he shall rise again at the last day — And is not that sufficient? She seems not to think it is. Thus, by our discontent under our present trials, we greatly undervalue our future expectations, and put a slight upon them, as if they were not worth regarding.11:17-32 Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house. When God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith, hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus, Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an advantage to her, when it put her at Christ's feet to hear his word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her to melancholy. It is our wisdom to watch against the temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect, let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seemeth him good. To enlarge Martha's expectations, our Lord declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness; and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all evil for ever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ, about the great things of the other world, we should put it to ourselves, Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought. When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them, calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set themselves at Christ's feet to be taught by him, may with comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to find favour with him.Thy brother shall rise again - Martha had spoken of the power of Jesus. He said nothing of himself in reply. It was not customary for him to speak of himself, unless it was demanded by necessity. It cannot be doubted that by rising again, here, Jesus referred to the act which he was about to perform; but as Martha understood it, referring to the future resurrection, it was full of consolation. The idea that departed friends shall rise to glory is one that fills the mind with joy, and one which we owe only to the religion of Christ. 23-27. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again—purposely expressing Himself in general terms, to draw her out. Christ takes no notice of Martha’s failings before mentioned, (he can have compassion upon his people’s infirmities), but applies himself to the relief of her under her affliction. He doth not tell her that her brother should be raised to life presently, nor that he would do it; but only saith he shall rise again: to let us know, that a belief of the general resurrection is enough, and ought to be improved by us, to curb our immoderate mourning and passions for those of our friends who are dead in the Lord. Jesus saith unto her, thy brother shall rise again. Christ knew what she meant, and accordingly gave her an answer, and yet in such general terms, that she could not tell whether his meaning was, that he should rise now, or at the general resurrection. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall {e} rise again.

(e) That is, will recover life again.

John 11:23-24. Jesus understood her, and promises ἀναστήσεται ὁ ἀδ. σου! He meant[81] to carry out the purpose stated in John 11:11, but expressed Himself ambiguously—no doubt intentionally—in order to lead the faith of Martha away from her merely personal interest, and to raise it rather to the higher general domain of the one thing that is needful. His words might as easily denote a raising up to be accomplished at once, as the resurrection at the last day. Martha ventures to take it only as a consolatory word of promise relatively to Lazarus’ participation in this latter resurrection; she had previously dared to hope for so much, that she was not now able to interpret so indefinite a reply in her own favour. Accordingly, her response expresses the resignation of disappointment, which would now so naturally present itself to her mind; at the same time, it was an answer full of submission, and not one of “as it were further inquiry” (De Wette, compare Calvin).

[81] That is, He meant the raising of Lazarus, which actually afterwards took place, and which was the fulfilment of the ἐξυπνίζειν; παλίνορσος ἐγείρεται, Nonnus. Quite in opposition to the progress and connection of the narrative, with its beautiful significance, is Hengstenberg’s remark: “Jesus means specially the resurrection at the last day, and along therewith, also, His transference to Paradise.” The soul of the deceased must already have been in Paradise, Luke 23:43.John 11:23. λέγεισου. “Thy brother shall rise again.” “The whole history of the raising of Lazarus is a parable of life through death.… Here, then, at the beginning the key-note is struck.” Westcott. Whether the words were meant or not to convey only the general truth of resurrection, and that death is not the final state, Martha did not find in them any assurance of the speedy restoration of Lazarus.23. shall rise again] He uses an ambiguous expression as an exercise of her faith. Some think that these words contain no allusion to the immediate restoration of Lazarus, and that Martha (John 11:24) understands them rightly. More probably Christ includes the immediate restoration of Lazarus, but she does not venture to do so, and rejects the allusion to the final Resurrection as poor consolation.John 11:23. Ἀναστήσεται, he shall rise again) Jesus does not immediately add the mention of the time, but exercises the faith of Martha.Verse 23. - Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Hengstenberg thinks that the reply of Jesus is a grand dogmatic assertion of the resurrection of the dead, in special application to Lazarus, and it covers the kind of ἀνάστασις which takes place at death, as well as the resurrection at the last day. If so, surely our Lord would have said, "Lazarus is risen again." The Lord does elsewhere speak of the dead as risen, and of their angelic state, and of all the dead living unto God; but he is here speaking of the immediate resurrection of Lazarus from what is called death to that which is called life, and which would be a pledge and type of the final resurrection of all.
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