John 11:3
Therefore his sisters sent to him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you love is sick.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Therefore his sisters sent unto him.—Better, The sisters therefore sent unto Himi.e., because of the fact of the illness, which has been repeated at the close of the last verse, and also because of the intimacy between our Lord and this family, of which the anointing was a proof. (Comp. John 11:5.)

Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.—The words are given in the touching simplicity of the message just as they were sent by the sorrowing sisters. They feel that the sad news needs no addition, and that there is no necessity for a prayer for help. Weakness, conscious of strength which loves, needs but to utter itself. (Comp. John 11:21.)

John 11:3-6. Therefore his sisters — Observing his sickness was of a dangerous kind, and therefore being full of concern for him, knowing where Jesus was, thought proper to send him word of it; for they firmly expected that he, who had cured so many strangers, would willingly come and give health to one whom he so tenderly loved. When Jesus heard this he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God — The event of this sickness will not be death, in the usual sense of the word, a final separation of his soul and body; but a manifestation of the glorious power of God, and a confirmation of the doctrine and mission of his Son. Dr. Campbell renders the clause, will not prove fatal, observing that this reading gives the full import of the Greek expression, ουκ εστι προς θανατον, and at the same time preserves the ambiguity intended. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, &c. — That is, he loved them with a peculiar affection, on account of their unfeigned piety toward God, their friendship and affection toward one another, and their faith in him as the Messiah, and had often visited them, and lodged at their house. And, in consequence of his peculiar love to them, he was determined to conduct himself toward them, in their present trying circumstances, in such a manner as he knew would be most for their final advantage, though it might, for a while, be an occasion of greater affliction to them. When he heard therefore that he was sick — Instead of making all possible haste to go to him, and without declaring he had any thoughts of going; he abode two days still — On the other side of Jordan; and in the same place where he was before — This he did not only though he loved them, but because he loved them. He loved them, and therefore he designed to do something great and extraordinary for them; to work such a miracle for their relief, as he had not wrought for any of his friends. If he had gone immediately, and had arrived at Bethany while Lazarus was still alive, and had cured his sickness, he would have done no more for him than he had done for many; if he had come to him, and raised him when he was but just dead, he would have done no more than he had done for some; but deferring his relief so long, he had an opportunity of doing more for him than he had done, or ever should do, for any other. Observe, reader, God hath gracious intentions even in his apparent delays. See Isaiah 54:7-8. Christ’s friends at Bethany were not out of his thoughts, nor was his affection to them lessened, though when he heard of their distress he made no haste to give them relief. “His lingering so long after their message came, did not proceed from want of concern for his friends, but happened according to the counsels of his own wisdom. For the length of time that Lazarus lay in the grave put his death beyond all possibility of doubt, and removed every suspicion of a fraud, and so afforded Jesus a fit opportunity of displaying the love he bare to Lazarus, as well as his own almighty power, in his unquestionable resurrection from the dead. It is true, the sisters were thus kept a while in painful anxiety, on account of their brother’s life, and in the conclusion were pierced with the sorrow of seeing him die. Yet they would think themselves abundantly recompensed by the evidence accruing to the gospel from this astonishing miracle, as well as by the inexpressible surprise of joy which they felt, when they received their brother again from the dead.”11:1-6 It is no new thing for those whom Christ loves, to be sick; bodily distempers correct the corruption, and try the graces of God's people. He came not to preserve his people from these afflictions, but to save them from their sins, and from the wrath to come; however, it behoves us to apply to Him in behalf of our friends and relatives when sick and afflicted. Let this reconcile us to the darkest dealings of Providence, that they are all for the glory of God: sickness, loss, disappointment, are so; and if God be glorified, we ought to be satisfied. Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. The families are greatly favoured in which love and peace abound; but those are most happy whom Jesus loves, and by whom he is beloved. Alas, that this should seldom be the case with every person, even in small families. God has gracious intentions, even when he seems to delay. When the work of deliverance, temporal or spiritual, public or personal, is delayed, it does but stay for the right time.Whom thou lovest - John 11:5. The members of this family were among the few special and intimate friends of our Lord. He was much with them, and showed them marks of special friendship Luke 10:38-42, and they bestowed upon him special proofs of affection in return. This shows that special attachments are lawful for Christians, and that those friendships are especially lovely which are tempered and sweetened with the spirit of Christ. Friendships should always be cemented by religion, and one main end of those attachments should be to aid one another in the great business of preparing to die.

Sent unto him - They believed that he had power to heal him John 11:21, though they did not then seem to suppose that he could raise him if he died. Perhaps there were two reasons why they sent for him; one, because they supposed he would be desirous of seeing his friend; the other, because they supposed he could restore him. In sickness we should implore the aid and presence of Jesus. He only can restore us and our friends; he only can perform for us the office of a friend when all other friends fail; and he only can cheer us with the hope of a blessed resurrection.

3-5. his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick—a most womanly appeal, yet how reverential, to the known affection of her Lord for the patient. (See Joh 11:5, 11). "Those whom Christ loves are no more exempt than others from their share of earthly trouble and anguish: rather are they bound over to it more surely" [Trench]. Christ (as was said before) seems to have been very familiar at the house of these two sisters, and often to have made them his hostesses; and it should appear by this verse that in those visits he had showed particular kindnesses to this their brother Lazarus, who was now sick; this makes them style their brother, he whom thou lovest. They plead no merits either of their own or his, but only plead with him for his own goodness and love. Nor do they express in particular what they desired for their brother, though it is easily understood by their representation of his state and condition. Therefore his sisters sent unto him,.... Both the sisters of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, sent to Jesus; they did not go themselves, being women, and the place where Jesus was, was at some distance; and besides, it was necessary they should abide at home, to attend their brother in his sickness, and therefore they sent a messenger, or messengers to Christ,

saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick; for it seems that Lazarus was in a very singular manner loved by Christ, as man, as John the beloved disciple was; and this is the rather put into the message by the sisters, to engage Jesus to come to his assistance; and they were very right in applying to Christ in this time of need, who is the physician, both of the bodies and souls of men; and are greatly to be commended both for their modesty and piety, in not prescribing to Christ what should be done in this case: and it may be further observed, that such who are the peculiar objects of Christ's love, are attended in this life with bodily sickness, disorders, and diseases, which are sent unto them, not in a way of vindictive wrath, but in love, and as fatherly chastisements; which, as they are designed, so they are overruled for their good; and are to be considered, not as instances of wrath, but as tokens of love.

Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 11:3-4. Merely the message that the beloved one is sick. The request lay in the message itself, and the addition ὃν φιλεῖς supplied the motive for its fulfilment.

εἶπεν] spoken generally, and not addressed to any definite person, but in the hearing of those present, the messenger and the disciples. Sufficient for the moment as a preparation both for the sisters and the disciples.

οὐκ ἔστι πρὸς θάνατον] πρός refers to destination (comp. afterwards ὑπέρ): it is not to have death for its result, which, however, does not mean, as the antithesis shows: it is not deadly, he will not die of it. The idea of death is used with a pregnancy of meaning, and the words signify: he shall not fall a prey to death, as death usually is, so that no reawakening takes place; θάνατος γὰρ κυρίως ὁ μέχρι τῆς κοινῆς ἀναστάσεως, Euth. Zigabenus. Comp. Matthew 9:24. That Jesus certainly knew, by His higher knowledge, that the death of Lazarus was certain and near at hand, though the death must be conceived as not having yet actually taken place (see on John 11:17), is confirmed by John 11:14;—for the assumption of a second message (Paulus, Neander, Schweizer) is purely arbitrary. With this significant declaration, Jesus designed to supply to the sisters something fitted, when the death of their brother took place, to stimulate the hope to which Martha gives actual expression in John 11:22. There is no warrant for dragging in a reference to the spiritual and eternal life of the resurrection (Gumlich).

ὑπὲρ τῆς δόξ. τ. θ.] i.e. for the furtherance of the honour of God. Comp. John 9:3. The emphatic and more definite explanation of the expression is given in ἵνα δοξασθῇ, etc.—words which, containing the intention of God, state the kind and manner of the ὑπὲρ τ. δόξ. τ. θ., so far, namely, as the glorification of the Son of God involves the honour of God Himself, who works through Him (comp. John 5:23, John 10:30; John 10:38). It is in these words, and not in John 11:25 (Baur), that the doctrinal design of the narrative is contained. Comp. John 11:40; John 11:42.John 11:3. The sisters were so intimate with Jesus that they naturally turn to Him in their anxiety, and send Him a notice of the illness, which is only a slightly veiled request that He would come to their relief: “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is ill”. “Sufficit ut noveris. Non enim amas et deseris.” Augustine.3. Therefore his sisters sent] This shews that John 11:2 ought not to be made a parenthesis: ‘therefore’ refers to the previous statement. Because of the intimacy, which every one who knew of the anointing would understand, the sisters sent. Note that they are not further described; S. John has said enough to tell his readers who are meant: but would not a forger have introduced them with more description?

he whom thou lovest is sick] Exquisite in its tender simplicity. The message implies a belief that Christ could, and probably would, heal a dangerous sickness. See on John 11:5.John 11:3. Ὃν φιλεῖς, whom Thou lovest) This is more modest, than if they were to say, he who loves Thee, or Thy friend; comp. John 11:11, “Our friend Lazarus” [Jesus’ words].—ἀσθενεῖ, is sick) They elegantly do not express [but leave to be inferred] the consequent, therefore come to our help [John 11:31-32, (Mary to Jesus) “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Truly greater things were now close at hand.—V. g.] Comp. ch. John 2:3, “When they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, They have no wine” [leaving the consequent unexpressed, but implied, Do Thou relieve them]. The great love of the sisters towards their brother here shines forth.Verse 3. - Therefore the sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick (ο{ν φιλεῖς nominative to ἀσθενεῖ). The sisters knew well what peril Jesus and his disciples would encounter by coming to Bethany, and they must have known that he could have healed him by a word; so they simply state the case. (On the difference between φιλεῖν and ἀγάπαν, see notes on John 5:20; 21:15, 17. Trench, 'New Test. Syn.,' § 12. The former word is that of personal affection and fondness, though occasion ally having grander associations and equivalent to amo, while ἀγαπάω is equivalent to diligo, and means the love of choice, of sentiment, of confidence and esteem.) There is delicate tact and beauty in the use of the two words, one by the sisters, the other by the evangelist. The statement of needs, the simple voice of our weakness, the infant's cry, goes up to heaven. The bleat of the lost lamb is enough for the good Shepherd. Thou lovest (φιλεῖς)

See on John 5:20. "They do not say, come. He who loves needs but know" (Bengel).

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