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?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And some of them said.—Better, But some of them said—i.e., another party of the Jews, differing from those mentioned in the last verse.
Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind . .?—They refer to the greatest miracle which had taken place within the limits of their own knowledge. The other miracles of raising the dead they must have heard of, but had not believed. What they think of here is not raising the dead, but the possibility of preventing death; and their question is meant to imply that He could not have prevented this death. If He could, surely He would have done so for one whom He had loved, and would have come at once, instead of waiting until death had taken place. The inference they would draw is that, after all, the present failure is a proof that He did not open the eyes of the blind.
1. That the most tender personal friendship is not inconsistent with the most pure religion. Piety binds stronger the ties of friendship, makes more tender the emotions of love, and seals and sanctifies the affections of friends.
2. It is right, it is natural, it is indispensable for the Christian to sympathize with others in their afflictions. Romans 12:15; "rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."
3. Sorrow at the death of friends is not improper. It is right to weep. It is the expression of nature and religion does not forbid or condemn it. All that religion does in the case is to temper and chasten our grief; to teach us to mourn with submission to God; to weep without complaining, and to seek to banish tears, not by hardening the heart or forgetting the friend, but by bringing the soul, made tender by grief, to receive the sweet influences of religion, and to find calmness and peace in the God of all consolation.
4. We have here an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus, The same Savior wept over Jerusalem, and felt deeply for poor dying, sinners. To the same tender and compassionate Saviour Christians may now come Hebrews 4:15; and to him the penitent sinner may also come, knowing that he will not cast him away.
some … said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that this man should not have died?—The former exclamation came from the better-feeling portion of the spectators; this betokens a measure of suspicion. It hardly goes the length of attesting the miracle on the blind man; but "if (as everybody says) He did that, why could He not also have kept Lazarus alive?" As to the restoration of the dead man to life, they never so much as thought of it. But this disposition to dictate to divine power, and almost to peril our confidence in it upon its doing our bidding, is not confined to men of no faith.John 9:1-34, in restoring him that was born blind; for their speech soundeth in this sense, If he had indeed cured one that was born blind, certainly he could as well have kept this man, to whom (dead) he expresses so great affection, clear from death. A learned interpreter therefore calleth this, a devilish sarcasm; they go about to weaken the reputation of our Saviour, from the miracle which he had wrought, apparently showing his Divine power, because he did not keep his friend from dying. It is much like the scoff with which they afterward scoffed him, while he flung upon the cross, Matthew 27:42, He saved others; himself he cannot save. Or the words may have been spoken, if not with an irony, yet with admiration, that having cured the blind man, a stranger to him, he did not heal his sick friend; or as if they were uncertain whether his power of working miracles were not limited to some times, that he could not perform all things when he pleased. But how weak must this their argumentation be, which could stand upon no other foundation than this, That if Christ were the Son of God, he would at all times, and in all cases, have put forth his Divine power. As if God acted necessarily, not freely, governing his actions by his own wisdom, as he saw most conducing to the wise ends of his glory.
could not this man which opened the eyes of the blind; as it is said, at least pretended, that he did, John 9:6, for this must be understood as calling the miracle into question, and as a sneer upon it, and not as taking it for granted that so it was; and even supposing that, it is mentioned to his reproach, since if so, he might
have caused that, even this man should not died: for either the above cure was a sham, or, if it was a real thing, he who did that could have prevented Lazarus's death; and if he could, and would not, where is his friendship? and what must be thought of all this show of affection to him? and what are these tears, but crocodile ones? but this reasoning, as specious as it may seem, was very fallacious; for he that cured the man born blind could raise Lazarus from the dead, which he intended; and therefore did not prevent his death, that he might still give more joy to the family, bring more glory to God, and himself, and more shame and confusion to his enemies.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?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 11:37. But this again suggested to the more thoughtful and wary the question, Οὑκ … ἀποθάνῃ; The tears of Jesus, which manifest His love for Lazarus, puzzle them. For if He opened the eyes of a blind man, He was able to prevent the death of His friend. The question with οὐκ expects an affirmative answer. Euthymius and the Greek interpreters in general think the question was ironical and scoffing. Thus Cyril, Ποῦ ἡ ἰσχύς σου ὦ θαυματουργέ; But there is nothing in the words to justify this.37. And some of them] Better, But some of them, in contrast to those who speak in John 11:36, who are not unfriendly, while these sneer. The drift of this remark is ‘He weeps; but why did He not come in time to save His friend? Because He knew that He could not. And if He could not, did he really open the eyes of the blind?’ They use the death of Lazarus as an argument to throw fresh doubt on the miracle which had so baffled them at Jerusalem. Their reference to the man born blind instead of to the widow’s son, or Jairus’ daughter, has been used as an objection to the truth of this narrative. It is really a strong confirmation of its truth. An inventor would almost certainly have preferred more obvious parallels. But these Jews of course did not believe in those raisings of the dead: they much more naturally refer to a reputed miracle within their own experience. Moreover they are not hinting at raising the dead, but urging that if Jesus could work miracles He ought to have prevented, Lazarus from dying.
should not have died] Rather, should not die.John 11:37. Τινές, some) who were more estranged [averse] from faith.—οὐκ ἠδύνατο, could not?) Jesus had shed tears. Thence they were inferring, that Jesus had the desire to have preserved the life of Lazarus, if He had had the power. He could, say they, and He ought. So ἠδύνατο, This might have been [sold, and ought to have been sold for much, and given to the poor], Matthew 26:9. They draw their conclusion from the greater exercise of power to the less. But then to raise the dead is, in its turn, a greater exercise of power, than to cure the sick or restore sight to the blind. The conclusion, which they ought to have drawn, was this: He hath given sight to the blind; therefore He can give life to the dead. But unbelief precipitates [hurries away with] all its conclusions in an opposite direction.—καὶ οὗτος, even this man) this Lazarus, one in the prime of youth, and beloved by Him.
Referring to the restoration of the blind man in ch. 9. The A.V. is too indefinite. Rev., rightly, of him that was blind.
Have caused, etc.
This saying of the Jews may have been uttered ironically, in which case it throws light on the meaning of groaned in the spirit (John 11:33) and of groaning in Himself in the next verse. But the words may have been spoken sincerely.
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