1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it." 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
1471 Above, our Lord shows his life-giving power by word; here he confirms it with a miracle, by raising Lazarus from the dead. First, we see the illness of Lazarus; secondly, his being raised from the dead (v 6); and thirdly, the effect this produced (v 45). The Evangelist does three things concerning the first: first, the illness of Lazarus is mentioned; secondly, his illness is made known (v 3); thirdly, we see the reason for his illness (v 4). Concerning the first he does three things: first, he describes the person who was ill; secondly, where he was living; and thirdly, he mentions one of his relatives.
1472 The one who was ill was Lazarus; Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus. This presents to us a believer who hopes in God, but still suffers the weakness introduced by sin, of whom we read: "Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing" (Ps 6:2). For Lazarus means "one who is helped by the Lord"; and so this name signifies one who has confidence in divine help: "My help comes from the Lord" (Ps 121:2).
1473 Lazarus was at Bethany, of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. The village of Bethany was near Jerusalem, and our Lord was often a guest there, as has been said above many times. It means "a house of obedience," and leads us to understand that if one who is ill obeys God, he can easily be cured by him, just as one who is sick and obeys his doctor gains his health. In 2 Kings (5:13) the servants of Naaman said to him: "My father, if the prophet had commanded you to do some great thing, would you not have done it?"
Bethany was the home of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus. Martha and Mary represent two ways of life, the active and the contemplative. And we can understand from the above that it is by obedience that one becomes perfect, both in the active and in the contemplative life.
1474 His relative was Mary, it was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair. The Evangelist describes this Mary by her most famous action so we can distinguish her from the many other women with the same name. Still, there is some disagreement among the saints about this Mary. Some, like Jerome and Origen, say that this Mary, the sister of Lazarus, is not the same as the sinner mentioned in Luke (7:37): "A woman of the city, who was a sinner…brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head." So, as Chrysostom says, she was not the prostitute mentioned in Luke. The Mary mentioned by John was an honorable woman, eager to receive Christ, while the name of the woman who was the sinner was kept secret. Furthermore, the Mary mentioned here by John could have done for Christ at the time of his passion because of her special devotion and love something similar to what was done for him by the sinner out of remorse and love. John, in order to praise her, is mentioning here, in anticipation, the action she would perform later [Jn 12:1-8].
Others, such as Augustine and Gregory, say that this Mary, mentioned by John, is the same as the sinner mentioned by Luke. Augustine bases his reason on this text. For the Evangelist is speaking here of the time before Mary anointed our Lord [for the second time] at the time of the passion; as John says further on: "Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus." So he says that what the Evangelist has mentioned here is the same event mentioned by Luke (7:37). [Ambrose maintains both sides.] 11.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman"'> So, according to the opinion of Augustine, it is clear that the sinner mentioned by Luke is this Mary whose brother Lazarus was ill. [Augustine says] a consuming fever was wasting his wretched body with its furnace-like flames.
1475 The sisters of Lazarus, who were taking care of him, inform Jesus of his illness. Grief-stricken at the misfortune of the ailing youth, the sisters sent to him, Jesus, saying, Lord, he whom you love is ill. This message brings to mind three things for consideration. First, we see that the friends of God are sometimes afflicted with bodily illness; thus, if someone has a bodily illness, this is not a sign that the person is not a friend of God. Eliphaz mistakenly argued against Job that it was: "Think now, who that was innocent every perished? Or where were the upright cut off?" (Job 4:7). Accordingly, they say, Lord, he whom you love is ill: "For the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights" (Prv 3:12).
The second thing to note is that his sisters do not say, "Lord, come and heal him," but simply to mention his sickness, he is ill. This indicates that it is enough merely to state one's need to a friend, without adding a request. For a friend, since he wills the good of his friend as his own good, is just as interested in warding off harm from his friends as he is in warding it off from himself. And this is especially true of the one who most truly loves: "The Lord preserves all who love him" (Ps 145:20).
The third thing to consider is that these two sisters, who wanted the cure of their sick brother, did not come in person to Christ, as did the paralytic (Lk 5:18), and the centurion (Matt 8:5). This was because of the confidence they had in Christ due to the special love and friendship which he had shown for them; or, perhaps it was their grief that kept them away: "A friend, if he is steadfast, will be to you as yourself" [Sir 6:11].
1476 Now we have the reasons for the foregoing: first, the illness of Lazarus; secondly, the reason why, according to Augustine, his sisters did not come in person to Christ (v 5).
1477 The reason for the illness of Lazarus is the glorification of the Son of God; thus the Evangelist says, when Jesus heard it he said, This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God. Here we should note that some physical illness is unto death and some is not. Those are unto death which are not ordained to something else. Further, every evil of punishment is inflicted by divine providence: "Does evil befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?" (Amos 3:6). But as for the evil of fault, God is not the author, but the punisher. Now all things that are from God are ordered. Consequently, every evil of punishment is ordered to something: some to death, and some to something else. This illness was not ordered to death, but to the glory of God.
1478 But Lazarus did die! Yes, otherwise he would not have had the odor of one four days in the tomb, nor would his raising have been a miracle. I answer that his illness was not ordained to death as a final end, but to something else, as has been said, that is, that he who was raised, chastened as it were, might live a holy life for the glory of God, and that the Jewish people who saw this miracle might be converted to the faith: "The Lord has chastened me sorely but he has not given me over to death" (Ps 118:18). Thus he adds, it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.
In this passage, according to Chrysostom, the words "for" and "that" do not indicate the reason for the events, but their sequence. For Lazarus was not made ill so that from it God might be glorified; rather, his illness came from some other cause, and from it the fact followed that the Son of God would be glorified insofar as Christ used it for the glory of God by raising Lazarus. 
This is true in one way, but not in another. It is possible to consider two reasons for Lazarus' illness. One is the natural cause, and from this point of view the statement of Chrysostom is true, because Lazarus' illness, considering its natural causes, was not ordained to his rising from the dead. But we can consider another reason, and this is divine providence; and then Chrysostom's statement is not true. For under divine providence an illness of this kind was ordained to the glory of God. And so according to this, the "for" and the "that" do indicate the reason. It is the same as saying: it is for the glory of God, because although it was not ordained to this from the intent of its natural cause, yet from the intent of divine providence it was ordained to the glory of God, insofar as, once the miracle had been performed, people would believe in Christ and escape real death. So he says, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.
Here our Lord clearly calls himself the Son of God: for he was to be glorified in the resurrection of Lazarus because he is true God: "that we may be in his true Son" [1 Jn 5:20]; "It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be made manifest in him" (9:3).
1479 Here, according to Augustine, the Evangelist gives the
reason why Lazarus' two sisters did not come to Christ, and it was due to their
confidence in him because of the special love he had for them; so the
Evangelist remarks, now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Indeed, he who is the Consoler of the sorrowful loved the sorrowing sisters,
and he who was the Savior of the weary loved the weary and dead Lazarus: "Yea,
he loved his people; all those consecrated to him were in his hand" (Deut
6 So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days
longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples,
"Let us go into Judea again." 8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews
were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9 Jesus
answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day,
he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if any one
walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
6 So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." 8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
1480 Here the Evangelist presents the raising of the dead Lazarus. First, we see that Christ desired to do this; and secondly, the sequence of events surrounding the raising are given (v 17). We see three things related to the first. First, our Lord allows the death; secondly, he states his intention to go to the place where Lazarus died (v 7); and thirdly, he reveals his intention to raise him (v 11).
1481 Christ allowed this death by prolonging his stay beyond the Jordan: so when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. One may infer from this that Lazarus died on the very day that Jesus received the message from his sisters: for when Christ went to the place where he died, it was already the fourth day. After receiving the message, Christ then remained two days in the same place, and on the day after these two days, he went to Judea. He delayed these few days for two reasons. First, so that the death of Lazarus would not be prevented by his presence; for where life is present, death has no entry. In the second place, in order to make the miracle more credible, and so that people would not say that Christ revived Lazarus, not from death, but only from a coma.
1482 Here (v 7) our Lord declares his intention to go to the place where Lazarus died. First, we see our Lord's plan; secondly, we see the fear in the disciples (v 8); and thirdly, we have our Lord dispelling their fear (v 9).
1483 With respect to the first the Evangelist says, Then after this, the prolonged delay, he said, Jesus did, to the disciples, Let us go into Judea again. One might ask here why Christ made a point of mentioning to the apostles that he was about to go into Judea again, since he had not done this on other occasions. The reason for this was that the Jews had just recently persecuted Christ in Judea and had almost stoned him; indeed, that is why he had left. So it was to be expected that when Christ wanted to go there again, the disciples would become fearful. And because "Darts that are foreseen do not strike and foreseen evils are more easily borne," as Gregory says, our Lord mentioned his planned journey to them to calm their fears. As to the mystical sense, we can understand by the fact that Christ is returning once again to Judea, that he will return again at the end of the world to the Jews, who will be converted to Christ: "A hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in" (Rom 11:25).
1484 The fear of the disciples is mentioned when the Evangelist says, the disciples said to him, Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and you are going there again? This was like saying: It seems that you are deliberately going to your death. Yet their fear was unreasonable, because the disciples had God with them as their protector, and one who is with God should not fear: "Let us stand up together. Who is my adversary?" (Is 50:8); "The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear?" (Ps 26:2).
1485 Our Lord dispels this fear by strengthening them. The Evangelist says, Jesus answered, his disciples, Are there not twelve hours in the day? First, we see something about the time; secondly, what time is suited for walking; thirdly, what time is not.
1486 To understand this passage we should note that it has been explained in three ways. The first way is that of Chrysostom, and is this. Are there not twelve hours in the day? is like saying: You hesitate to go up to Judea because the Jews recently wanted to stone me; but the day has twelve hours, and what happens at one hour does not happen in another. So, although they would have stoned me before, they would not want to do this at another hour: "For everything there is a season" (Eccl 3:1); "Every matter has its time and way" (Eccl 8:6).
1487 A literal question arises because he is speaking here either of the natural or of the artificial day. If he is speaking of the natural day, then what he says is false: because the natural day does not have twelve but twenty-four hours. Again, if he is speaking of the artificial day, his statement is false: because it is true only at the equinox, for not all artificial days have twelve hours. I answer that we should understand this to refer to the artificial day, because all artificial days have twelve hours. For the hours of such days are distinguished in two ways. Some are equal in length and some are not. Those equal in length are distinguished according to the circle of the equator: and according to this not all days have twelve hours, but some have more and some less, except at the equator. The hour not equal in length are more distinguished according to the ascensions of the zodiac on account of its obliquity: because the zodiac does not ascend equally in all its parts, but at the equator equally. Now each artificial day has twelve of these unequal hours, because every day has six signs which ascend during the day, and six at night; but those which ascend in summer have a slower motion than those which ascend in winter, and of course the ascent of each sign makes up two hours.
1488 If any one walks in the day, that is, honorably, and without consciousness of any evil - "Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in that day" (Rom 13:13) - he does not stumble, that is, he does not come upon anything that might harm him. And this is because he sees the light of this world, i.e., the light of righteousness is in him: "Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart" (Ps 97:11). It is like our Lord were saying: We can go securely because we are walking during the day.
1489 But if any one walks in the night, that is, in the night of iniquities, he will easily find dangers. Concerning this night we read: "Those who sleep at night" (1 Thess 5:7). But such a one, he stumbles, that is, strikes against something, because the light, of righteousness, is not in him.
1490 A certain Greek, Theophylactus, explains this another way. Beginning at If any one walks in the day, he says that the "day" is the presence of Christ in the world, and the "night" is the time after Christ's passion. So the meaning is this: The Jews are not to be feared because as long as I am in the world it is not you, but I, who am in danger. Thus, when the Jews wanted to arrest Christ, he said to the crowd: "If you seek me, let these men go. This was to fulfill the word which he had spoken, 'Of those whom you gavest me I lost not one'" (18:8). But if any one walks in the night, that is, in the time after the passion, you should be afraid to go into Judea, because you will suffer persecution from the Jews: "Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered."
1491 Augustine explains it another way, so that the "day"
indicates Christ: "We must work the works of him who sent me, while it is day"
(9:4), and "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (9:5).
The twelve hours of this day are the twelve apostles: "Did I not choose you,
the twelve?" (6:71). But what should we say of what follows: "And one of you is
a devil?" Judas, therefore, was not an hour of this day because he gave no
light. We should say that our Lord spoke these words [about the twelve] not in
reference to Judas, but to his successor, who was Matthias. Thus, the sense of Are
there not twelve hours in the day? is as though he were saying: You are the
hours, I am the day. Just as the hours follow the day, so you must follow me.
So, if I wish to go to Judea you ought not to precede me or change my will, but
you should follow me. He said something similar to Peter: "Get behind me, Satan!"
(Matt 16:23), i.e., do not go ahead of me, but follow me by imitating my will. If
any one walks in the day is the same as saying: You should not fear any
danger, because you are going with me who am the day. So just as one who walks
in the day does not run into anything, that is, does not stumble, so
also you who walk with me: "If God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom 8:31).
And this is because he sees the light of this world in me. But if any
one walks in the night, in the darkness of ignorance and sin, then he
stumbles; and this is because the spiritual light is not in him,
not because of a defect in the light, but because of his own rebellion: "There
are those who rebel against the light" (Job 24:13).
11 Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend
Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." 12 The
disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13 Now
Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in
sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead; 15 and for your sake
I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."
16 Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that
we may die with him."
11 Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." 12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead; 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."
1492 Above, our Lord mentioned his intention of going to the place where Lazarus had died; now he reveals his intention to raise him. The Evangelist first mentions this intention; secondly, the attitude of the disciples (v 16). First, we see our Lord stating his intention implicitly and rather obscurely; secondly, the Evangelist mentions how slow the disciples were to understand this (v 12); and thirdly, we see our Lord stating his intention plainly (v 14).
1493 The Evangelist says, Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, that is, having said those things already mentioned, Jesus now says to his disciples, Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep. According to Chrysostom, this seems to be a second reason for the disciples not to fear: the first was based on their innocence, because he who walks in the day does not stumble; but this reason is based on current necessity, it being necessary to go there.
1494 We see three things about this. First, he recalls his previous friendship with the dead man, saying, Our friend Lazarus. This was to say: He was a friend because of the many things and favors he did for us; so we should not neglect him in his needs: "He who overlooks his own advantage for the sake of a friend is just" [Prv 12:26].
1495 Secondly, he mentions that help is needed now, saying, has fallen asleep, and so should be helped: "A brother is born for adversity" (Prv 17:17). Lazarus has fallen asleep, with respect to the Lord, as Augustine says; but with respect to men he was dead, as they were unable to revive him. We should note that the word "sleep" can be understood in several ways. Sometimes it refers to a natural sleep: "So Samuel went and lay down [slept] in his place" (1 Sam 3:9); and "You shall sleep securely" [Job 11:18]. Sometimes it indicates the sleep of death: "We would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope" (1 Thess 4:13). Sometimes it is understood as some kind of negligence: "Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep" (Ps 121:4). And sometimes it means the sleep of sin: "Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead" (Eph 5:14). Again, it can mean the repose of contemplation: "I slept, but my heart was awake" (Song 5:2). It can also signify the rest of future glory: "In peace I will both lie down and sleep" (Ps 4:8).
Death is called a sleep because of the hope we have of a resurrection; so death has come to be called a sleep from the time that Christ died and arose: "I lie down and sleep" (Ps 3:6).
1496 Thirdly, he shows his power to raise one from death when he says, but I go to awake him out of sleep. By this he tells us that he woke him from the grave with as little effort as you wake a person who is sleeping in bed. This is not surprising because he is the one who raises the dead and gives life; so it was said above (5:28): "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God."
1497 The Evangelist now mentions that the disciples were slow to understand this (v 12). First, he gives a sign of their slowness, and this is that they did not answer our Lord in accord with his meaning. Secondly, their slowness is clearly shown (v 13).
1498 Concerning the first note that although our Lord was speaking of the sleep of death, they understood him to mean a natural sleep. And because it is a sign of health when the sick sleep, the disciples said, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover. They were saying: This is clearly a sign of health; and since he is sleeping, it does not seem to be helpful to go and awake him.
1499 The Evangelist mentions their slowness to understand, saying, now Jesus had spoken of his death, since they did not realize this. Our Lord said to them, according to Matthew, "Are you also still without understanding?" And we read of the wise: "The wise man may also hear…and understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles" (Prv 1:5-6)
1500 Then our Lord explicitly states his intention to raise him (v 14). First, he tells them that Lazarus has died, which shows his knowledge; secondly, he mentions his attitude towards his death, which shows his providence; and thirdly, he makes known his intention to go to the place where he died, which shows his compassion or mercy.
1501 He states that Lazarus has died when he says plainly, Lazarus is dead, i.e., he has submitted to the common law of death which no one can escape: "What man can live and never see death?" (Ps 89:48).
1502 He shows his own attitude towards this death, saying, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. This can be explained in two ways.
The first way is this. We have heard that Lazarus was sick. And although I was not there I have told you that he has died and for your sake I am glad, i.e., because it is for your benefit, so that you may experience my divinity, because even though I was not there I saw all this: "All are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have do to" (Heb 4:13). This is not surprising, because the divinity is present to all things: "Do I not fill heaven and earth?" (Jer 23:24). So that you may believe not as though they were to believe for the first time, but in order that they might believe more firmly and more strongly, in the sense of "I believe; help my unbelief" (Mk 9:23).
The other explanation is this: I am glad that he is dead and this is for your sake, for our benefit, so that you may believe. Accordingly, I am glad that I was not there, for if I had been there, he would not have died. But because he is now dead, it will be a greater miracle when I raise one already decomposing. As a result, your faith will be get stronger, for it is greater to raise one who is dead than to keep him from dying.
We can learn from this that evils are sometimes a reason for joy, insofar as they are directed to some good: "We know that everything works for good with those who love him" (Rom 8:28).
1503 He mentions his plan to go when he says, but let us go to him. Here we see God's mercy, for in his mercy he takes the initiative and draws to himself those living in sin, who are dead and unable of themselves to come to him: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore have I drawn you, taking pity on you" [Jer 31:3].
1504 Now the attitude of the disciples is given, and this can be interpreted in two ways; in one way as indicating a lack of confidence; and in the other as indicating love. Chrysostom interprets it in the first way. As was mentioned above, all the disciples feared the Jews, but especially Thomas. Indeed, before the passion he was weaker than the others and had less faith, but after he became stronger and was beyond reproach, traveling the whole world alone.  So, because of this lack of confidence he says to his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. This was like saying: He does not fear death; he fully wants to go, willing to deliver both himself and us over to death.
Augustine interprets it in the
second way. For Thomas and the other disciples loved Christ so much that they
wanted either to live with him while he was here, or die with him, so that they
would not find themselves again without consolation if he left them alone by
It was with this feeling that Thomas said to his fellow disciples, Let us
also go, that we may die with him. He was saying: He wants to go, and is in
danger of death. Shall we stay here to live? No. Let us also go, that we may
die with him: "If we suffer with him, we shall reign with him" [Rom 8:17];
"One has died for all; therefore all have died" (2 Cor 5:14).
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already
been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles
off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them
concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went
and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if
you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that
whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your
brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise
again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the
resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he
live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe
this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the
Son of [the living] God, he who is coming into the world."
17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of [the living] God, he who is coming into the world."
1505 The Evangelist, after telling us that Lazarus was to be raised, now describes the events surrounding it. First, he mentions some others; secondly, he reveals Christ's feelings (v 33); thirdly, he describes the actual raising of Lazarus (v 38). As for the others, he first mentions the condition of Lazarus; secondly, the consolation the Jews were giving to his sisters (v 19); and thirdly, the devotion of these sisters (v 20).
1506 The condition of Lazarus is described as to the time of his death and to his location; Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. This makes it clear, as we said above, that Lazarus had died the very day Christ was told about his illness.
1507 According to Augustine, these four days signify four deaths. The first day indicates the death of original sin, which we humans contract as offspring: "Sin came in to the world through one man and death through sin" (Rom 5:12). The other three days refer to death by actual sin: for every mortal sin is called a death: "Evil shall slay the wicked" (Ps 34:21). These days are differentiated according to which law is transgressed.
Thus the second day indicates the transgression of the law of nature: "They have transgressed the laws…broken the everlasting covenant," that is, the law of nature (Is 24:5). The third day signifies the transgression of the written law: "Did not Moses give you the law? Yet none of you keeps the law" (7:19). The fourth day represents the transgression of the Law of the Gospel and of grace; and this is more serious than the others: "A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?" (Heb 10:28-29).
Another interpretation would be this: The first day is the sin of the heart: "Remove the evil of your thoughts from before my eyes" [Is 1:16]. The second day is the sin of speech: "Let no evil talk come out of your mouths" (Eph 4:29). The third day is the sin of deed: "Cease to do evil" (Is 1:16). The fourth day is customary sin arising from evil habit: "You can do good who are accustomed to do evil" (Jer 13:23).
But no matter how it is interpreted, our Lord sometimes heals those who have been dead four days, that is, those who have transgressed the law of the Gospel, and those who are held fast by habits of sin.
1508 Next we are told what favored the presence of the visitors and how many there were. Their presence was facilitated due to the fact that the deceased was near Jerusalem; the Evangelist says, Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles [fifteen stadia] off. This was almost two miles, because a mile contains eight stadia. Thus it was easy for many of the Jews to go there from Jerusalem.
The mystical interpretation is this: Bethany means "the house of obedience," and Jerusalem means "the vision of peace." Thus we may understand that those who are in the state of obedience are near the peace of eternal life: "My sheep hear my voice…and I give them eternal life" (10:27). He says fifteen stadia, because anyone who wishes to go from Bethany, i.e., the state of obedience, to the heavenly Jerusalem, must pass through fifteen stadia. The first seven belong to the observance of the Old Law, for the number seven pertains to the Old Law, which keeps the seventh day holy. The other eight belong to the fulfilling of the New Testament, for the number eight refers to the New Testament because of the octave of the resurrection.
Their number is mentioned as being many; and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them. This was an act of piety: "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom 12:15); "Do not fail those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn" (Sir 7:34).
1509 Now the Evangelist describes the sisters: first, Martha; then Mary. He describes Martha in three ways: as going to meet Christ; the devotion she showed to Christ (v 21); and thirdly, the degree of enlightenment to which Christ raised her.
1510 We are told that Martha immediately went to meet Jesus, when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him without delay. The Evangelist says, was coming, perhaps because when Christ was drawing near someone went ahead and told Martha that Jesus was on his way; and when she heard this, she at once ran to meet him. The reason why Martha was the first to hear about this and hurry out alone was due to her anxiety; thus our Lord says in Luke (10:41), "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things." And so, since she was occupied with every detail, she was constantly coming and going and was more likely to meet the messengers. But Mary sat with those who had come from Jerusalem, and the news would not have reached her as soon. Chrysostom thinks that Martha did not tell Mary about this at once because Mary was with the Jews, and Martha knew that they were persecuting Christ and had already planned his death. So, she was afraid that if she told her, and Mary also came to meet Christ, they too would have come with her. For this reason she preferred not to tell her.
But if the Jews were conspiring against Christ, why were they there with Lazarus and his sisters, who were intimate friends of Christ, and like his disciples? Chrysostom answers that they were there in spite of the orders of their leaders, to comfort them, because they were good women and in great need. Or again, they were there because they were not evil men, but were well-disposed toward Christ; for a great number of the people were believers.
Mystically, these events signify the active life, which is signified by Martha, who went to meet Christ in order to serve his members; and the contemplative life, which is signified by Mary, who sat at home dedicating herself to the repose of contemplation and to purity of conscience: "When I enter my house, I shall find rest with her" (Wis 8:16).
1511 Martha is shown to have an extraordinary devotion; Martha said to Jesus, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Here she reverently mentions two things to Christ: one of these look to the past, and the other to the future. She looks to the past when she says, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died: for she believed that there would be no place for death when the Lord was present, since she had seen the woman healed by merely touching the fringe of Jesus' garment (Matt 9:20). This was reasonable, for life is contrary to death; but Christ is life and the tree of life: "She [wisdom] is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her" (Prv 3:18). So if the tree of life could preserve one from death, much more could Christ. However, her faith was as yet imperfect, for she thought that Christ had less power when he was absent than when he was present. Thus she said, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Of course, this can be said of a limited and created power, but it should not be said of the infinite and uncreated power which is God, because God is equally related to things both present and absent; indeed, all things are present to him: "Am I a God at hand, says the Lord, and not a God afar off?" (Jer 23:23).
She looks to the future when she adds, and even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you. In saying this she spoke the partial truth - for it belonged to Christ as having a human nature to petition God; thus we read that he often prayed, and above it is said, "If any one is a worshipper of God and does his will, God listens to him" (9:31). Yet it was less than the whole truth; for by saying this she seemed to be thinking of Christ as a saintly man who could by his prayer revive one already dead, just as Elisha by his prayer raised one who was dead.
1512 We see how she advanced when the Evangelist adds, Jesus said to her, Your brother will rise again. Because she was still imperfect in her understanding, our Lord raised her to higher things by his teaching. First, he foretells the resurrection of her brother; secondly, he shows that he has the power to resurrect (v 25). Concerning the first, he does two things. First, he foretells the coming miracle; secondly, we see Martha's understanding of the resurrection (v 24).
1513 The miracle our Lord foretold is the raising of Lazarus; thus he says, Your brother will rise again: "Thy dead shall live, their bodies shall rise" (Is 26:19). We should note here that Christ raised three persons from death: the daughter of the ruler of the synagogue (Matt 9:25); the widow's son, who was being carried outside the gate of the city (Lk 7:12); and Lazarus, who had been four days in the tomb. The girl was still in her home, the youth was outside the gate, and Lazarus was in the tomb. He raised the girl in the presence of only a few witnesses: the girl's father and mother, and the three disciples, Peter, James, and John. He raised the young man in the presence of a large group. And Lazarus was raised with a number of people standing by, and when Christ was deeply affected. These three persons represent three kinds or genera of sins. Some sin by consenting in their hearts to mortal sin; and these are signified by the girl who was dead in her own home. Others sin by outside signs and acts, and these are signified by the dead youth who was being carried outside the city gate. Finally, those who are firmly habituated to sin are buried in the tomb. Yet, our Lord raises all of them. But those who sin only by consent, and die by sinning mortally, are more easily raised. And because their sin is private, it is healed with a private corrective. When sin advances without, it needs public remedy.
1514 Martha's understanding of the promised resurrection is given when the Evangelist says, Martha said to him, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. It had never been heard that anyone had raised a person who had been four days in the tomb, so it would not have entered Martha's heart that Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead then and there. But she did believe that this would happen at the general resurrection. Therefore, she says, I know, that is, I hold it with the greatest certainty, that he will rise again at the last day: "I will raise him up at the last day" (6:40).
1515 When the Evangelist says, Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life, our Lord raises Martha to higher things. First, Jesus shows his own might and power; secondly, he mentions the effect of his power, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live; and thirdly, he demands faith, Do you believe this?
1516 His power is life-giving; thus he says, I am the resurrection and the life. It is as though he were saying to Martha: Do you believe that your brother will rise on the last day? But this general event, that all will rise, will be caused by my power. Consequently, I, by whose power all will rise at that time, am also able to raise your brother now.
He is saying two things, namely, that he is the resurrection and the life. We should note that some need to share in the effect of life: some, indeed, because they have lost life; and others, not because they have lost it, but in order that the life they have may be preserved. In regard to the first he says, I am the resurrection, because those who have lost their life by death are restored. In regard to the second he says, and the life, by which the living are preserved.
We should note further that the statement, I am the resurrection, is a causal one. It is the same as saying: I am the cause of the resurrection, for this manner of speaking is usually applied only to those who are the cause of something. Now Christ is the total cause of our resurrection, both of bodies and souls; and so the statement, I am the resurrection, indicates the cause. He is saying: The entire fact that everyone will rise in their souls and in their bodies will be due to me: "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead" (1 Cor 15:21).
Furthermore, the fact that I am the resurrection is due to the fact that I am the life: for it is because of life that they are restored to life, just as it is because of fire that something aflame which has been extinguished is rekindled: "In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (1:4).
1517 However, the effect corresponds to the power; thus he says, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. First, he treats of the effect which corresponds to the first power [the power to resurrect]; secondly, the effect which corresponds to the second power [the power to give life].
The first thing he said about his power is that he is the resurrection. The effect which corresponds to this is that the dead are brought to life by him. Referring to this he says, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. The reason for this is that I am the cause of the resurrection, and the effect of this cause is obtained by believing in me. He says, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, because by believing he has me within himself - "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (Eph 3:17). And one who has me, has the cause of the resurrection. Therefore, he who believes in me shall live. We saw before (5:25) that some will rise through faith: "the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live," with a spiritual life, by rising from the death of sin, and they will also live with a natural life by rising from the penalty of [physical] death.
The second thing he says of his power is that he is life. The effect which corresponds to this is the preservation of life. Thus he says, and whoever lives and believes in me, whoever lives a life of righteousness, "the righteous shall live by his faith" (Hab 2:4), shall never die, that is, with an eternal death. But they will have eternal life: "For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in him should have eternal life" (6:40). This should not be understood to mean that one will not physically die; he will die, but he will be raised up in a soul to a never-ending life, and his flesh will rise and he will never die again. Thus John continued, "and I will raise him up at the last day" (6:40).
1518 Jesus requires faith so he can bring her to perfection: thus he says, Do you believe this? First, our Lord's question is given. Our Lord does not ask this out of ignorance, because he knew her faith. Indeed, it was he who had infused the faith into her: for the act of faith is from God. But he asks this question in order that she might profess outwardly the faith she had in her heart: as we read, "For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved" (Rom 10:10).
1519 Secondly, we are given the woman's answer, Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Yet this answer seems to be unrelated to what our Lord had said. For he had said, I am the resurrection and the life, and then he asked her whether she believed this. She did not answer: "I believe that you are the resurrection and the life," but I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
There are two explanations for this. Chrysostom thinks that Martha did not understand the profound words of Christ and answered as one bewildered: Lord, I do not understand what you are saying, namely, that you are the resurrection and the life; but I do believe this, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. Augustine, on the other hand, says that Martha answers this way because it gives the reason for all that our Lord had said. It is as though she were saying: Whatever you say about your power and the effect of salvation, I believe it all; because I believe something more, which is the root of all these things, that is, that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
1520 Martha's profession is complete, for she professes Christ's dignity, his nature and his mission, that is, to be made flesh. She professes his dignity, both royal and priestly, when she says, you are the Christ. Now "Christ" means "anointed." And kings and priests are anointed. Consequently, Christ is king and priest. So the angel said: "To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" (Lk 2:11). Furthermore, he is a "Christ" in a unique way, for others are anointed with a visible oil, but he is anointed with an invisible oil, that is, with the Holy Spirit, and more abundantly than others: "God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness above your fellows" (Ps 45:7). Indeed, he was anointed above his fellows "for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit" (3:34).
Then she professes that Christ's nature is divine and equal to the Father; she says, the Son of the living God. In calling him uniquely the Son of the living God, she affirms the truth of his sonship: for he is not the true Son of God unless he is of the same nature as his Father. Thus it is said of Christ: "That we may be in his true Son, Christ. This is the true God and eternal life" [1 Jn 5:20].
She professes the mystery of his
mission when she says, he who is coming into the world, by assuming
flesh. Peter professed the same: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living
God" (Matt 16:16); and Christ says, "I came from the Father and have come into
the world" (16:28).
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister
Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when
she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come
to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When
the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly
and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep
there. 32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his
feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have
died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also
weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled [himself]; 34 and he said,
"Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus
wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." 37 But some of them said,
"Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from
28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled [himself]; 34 and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him." 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying."
1521 The Evangelist, after describing Martha, now describes Mary. First, he mentions how she was called; secondly, her meeting with Christ; and thirdly, the devotion she showed him (v 32).
1522 Mary was called by Martha, who had been consoled and instructed by Christ, as she did not want her sister to miss such consolation. When she had said this, the previous words, to the Lord, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, The Teacher is here and is calling for you. She called her sister quietly: "The words of the wise heard in quiet…" (Eccl 9:17). She did this because a number of Jews were with her sister, as has been said; and perhaps there were some among them who did not like Jesus, or would have left, or who, if they had heard what Martha said, would not have followed her. As for the mystical sense, we may understand that one more efficaciously calls upon Christ in quiet or in private: "In quietness and in trust shall be your strength" (Is 30:15).
1523 There is a problem about her saying, the Teacher is here and is calling for you. This seems to be false, because our Lord did not tell Martha to call Mary. Augustine says that the Evangelist omitted this detail from his account for the sake of brevity, for perhaps our Lord did tell Martha to call her. However, others say that Martha considered the very presence of Christ as a call. Martha was thinking: If he is here, it would be inexcusable for one not to go to meet him.
1524 Next, the Evangelist describes Mary going to meet Christ. He does three things about this: first, he mentions her promptness; secondly, the place where she meets Christ; and thirdly those who came with her (v 31).
1525 Mary went to Christ promptly, not delaying on account of her sorrow, or hesitating because of those who were with her. But when she heard it, she rose quickly from the house where she was and went to him, Jesus. It is clear from this that Martha would not have arrived before Mary if Mary had been immediately told of Jesus' coming. Further, this furnishes us with the example that we are not to delay when called to Christ: "Do not delay to turn to the Lord, nor postpone it from day to day" (Sir 5:7); "I will hear him as a teacher" [Is 50:4].
1526 Mary meets Christ at the same place where Martha had spoken to him; Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. The Evangelist mentions this so that we do not think that Mary's trip was unnecessary, for Christ could have reached her village just as quickly as Martha did. But Christ remained where he was so as not to appear to be thrusting himself into a miracle. Yet once he is asked and prompted, he does perform a miracle, once they realize that Lazarus is dead, and so the miracle cannot be denied. We can also understand from this that when we wish to have the advantage of Christ we should go to meet him, and not wait until he accommodates himself to us; rather, we should accommodate ourselves to him: "They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them" (Jer 15:19).
1527 Those who followed Mary are described when the Evangelist says, the Jews who were with her in the house…followed her. The reason they followed her is given when he says, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. They thought that her action was inspired by her grief, since they had not heard what Martha had said to her. This was a commendable thing for the Jews to do, for as Sirach (7:34) says: "Do not fail those who weep." Still, that they did follow Mary was an effect of divine providence, and it was, as Augustine says, so that with all these present when Lazarus was raised, this great miracle of raising one who had been dead for four days would have many witnesses.
1528 Then when he says, then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, we see Mary's devotion to Jesus. First, we see the devotion she showed by her actions and secondly, the devotion she showed by her words.
1529 In regard to the first, notice her security and humility. She is secure because, contrary to the orders of the leaders that no one profess Christ, she is neither shamed by the crowd nor does she show any regard for the Jews' mistrust of Christ. Even though some of Christ's enemies are present, she runs to him: "The righteous are bold as a lion" (Prv 28:1).
She shows her humility because she fell at his feet, which was not said about Martha: "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you" (1 Pet 5:6); "Let us worship at his foot stool" (Ps 132:7).
1530 She shows her devotion in words when she says to him, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. For she believed that he was the life, and where he was there would be no place for death: "What fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14). It is like saying, says Augustine: "As long as you were present with us, no sickness or infirmity dared to appear among those with whom Life was a guest. O faithless fellowship! While you were still living in the world, your friend died. If a friend dies, what will an enemy suffer?"
1531 Next (v 33), Christ's feelings are presented. Christ did not answer Mary in the same way that he answered Martha; because of the crowd which was present he did not say anything, but showed his power by his actions. First, we see Christ's affection for Mary; secondly, the remarks of the Jews about Christ's affection (v 36). Concerning the first, the Evangelist does three things. First, he mentions the affection present in the heart of Christ; secondly, how he expressed it in words (v 34); and thirdly, how he revealed it by his tears (v 35).
1532 With regard to the first, he says, When Jesus saw her weeping…We should note here that Christ is truly divine and truly human. And so in his actions we find almost everywhere that the divine is mingled with the human, and the human with the divine. And if at times something human is mentioned about Christ, something divine is immediately added. Indeed, we read of no weakness of Christ greater than his passion; yet as he hangs on the cross divine events are manifested: the sun is obscured, rocks are rent, the bodies of the saints that had been asleep arise. Even at his birth, as he lay in the manger, a star shines in the heavens, the angels sing his praises, and the Magi and kings offer gifts. We have a similar situation here: for Christ experiences a certain weakness in his human affections, becoming disturbed over the death of Lazarus. We read, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled himself.
1533 In regard to this disturbance, we should note his compassion; secondly, his discernment; and thirdly, his power. There is compassion for a right reason, for one is rightly troubled by the sadness and the evils which afflict others. About this the Evangelist says, When Jesus saw her weeping. "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep" (Rom 12:15).
1534 There is discernment, because Jesus is troubled in harmony with the judgment of reason. Thus the Evangelist says that he was deeply moved in spirit, that is, observing the judgment of reason. In the Scriptures the spirit is also called the mind or reason, as in Ephesians (4:23): "Be renewed in the spirit of your minds." Sometimes these emotions of the sensitive part are neither evoked by the spirit, nor preserve the moderation of reason; rather, they go against it. But this did not happen in Christ because he was deeply moved in spirit.
But what does it indicate to say that he was deeply moved in spirit (fremuit spiritu)? It seems that it indicates anger: "A king's wrath is like the growling (fremitus) of a lion" (Prv 19:12). It also seems to indicate indignation or resentment, according to Psalm 112 (v 10): "He gnashes (fremet) his teeth and melts away." I answer that Christ's being deeply moved indicates a certain anger and resentment of the heart. For all anger and resentment are caused by some kind of pain and sadness. Now there are two things involved here: the one about which Christ was troubled was death, which was inflicted upon the human race on account of sin; the other, which he resented, was the cruelty of death and of the devil. Thus, just as when one wants to repel an enemy he is saddened by the evils inflicted by him, and indignant at the very though of him, so too Christ was saddened and indignant.
1535 There was power here because Christ troubled himself by his own command. Sometimes such emotions arise for an inappropriate reason, as when a person rejoices over something evil, or is saddened over what is good: like they "who rejoice in doing evil and delight in the perverseness of evil" (Prv 2:14). But this was not the case with Christ; thus he says, When Jesus saw her weeping…he troubled himself. And sometimes such emotions arise for a good reason, but are not moderated by reason. So he says, he was deeply moved in spirit. Further, although these emotions are moderated, they sometimes spring up before the judgment of reason, as when they are sudden. This was not the case with Christ either, because every movement of his sensitive appetite was according to the control and command of reason.
Thus he says, he troubled himself (turbovit semetipsum). This was like saying: He took on this sadness by a judgment of reason.
But how does this agree with the statement of Isaiah [42:4]: "He will not be sad nor troubled"? I answer that this refers to a sadness which precedes the judgment of reason and is immoderate. Christ willed to be troubled and to feel sadness for three reasons. First, to show the condition and the truth of his human nature. Secondly, so that by controlling his own sadness, he might teach us to moderate our own sadness. The Stoics had taught that a wise man is never sad. But it seems very inhuman not to be sad at the death of another. However, there are some who become excessively sad over the evils which afflict their friends. Now our Lord willed to be sad in order to teach us that there are times when we should be sad, which is contrary to the opinion of the Stoics; and he preserved a certain moderation in his sadness, which is contrary to the excessively sad type. Thus the Apostle says: "But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope" (1 Thess 4:13). "Weep for the dead, for he lacks the light" (Si 22:11), and then it continues, "Weep less bitterly for the dead, for he has attained rest." The third reason is to tell us that we should be sad and weep for those who physically die: "I am utterly spent and crushed" (Ps 38:8). 
1536 Then our Lord shows the emotion in his own heart by words; he says, Where have you laid him? Was our Lord really ignorant of the place where he had been buried? It seems not, for just as in his absence he knew, because of his divinity, of Lazarus' death, so in the same way he knew where his tomb was. Why did he ask about something he already knew? I answer that he did not ask as though he did not know, but upon being shown the tomb by the people, he wanted them to admit that Lazarus had died and was buried. In this way he could prevent the miracle from being doubted.
There are also two mystical reasons for this. One is that a person who asks a question does not seem to know the things he asks about. Now, Lazarus in his tomb signifies those who are dead in their sins. And so our Lord presents himself as ignorant of where Lazarus is to have us understand that he does not, in a way, know sinners, according to: "I never knew you" (Matt 7:23); and in Genesis God said to Adam, "Where are you?" (3:9). The other reason is that if anyone rises from sin to the state of divine righteousness, it is due to the depths of divine predestination, the depths of which we are ignorant: "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" (Rom 11:34); "For who among them has stood in the council of the Lord to perceive and hear his word" (Jer 23:18). And so our Lord, implying this, acts as one who does not know, since we also do not know this. Thus our Lord's question is given, and the answer of the people, when the Evangelist says, They said to him, Lord, come and see. Come, by showing mercy; and see, by giving your attention: "Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins" (Ps 25:18).
1537 Next, our Lord reveals his emotion with tears; the Evangelist says, he wept. Now his tears did not flow from necessity, but out of compassion and for a purpose. Christ was a well-spring of compassion, and he wept in order to show us that it is not blameworthy to weep out of compassion: "My son, let your tears fall for the dead" (Sir 38:16). He wept with a purpose, which was to teach us that we should weep because of sin: "I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears" (Ps 6:6).
1538 The Evangelist mentions the remarks that were made about Christ's affection when he says, So the Jews said, See how he loved him! First, he mentions those who sympathize with Christ's affection; secondly, those who doubted his previous miracle (v 37).
The Evangelist infers that some sympathize with Christ's affection when he says, So the Jews said, after Christ showed his affections by his words and tears, See how he loved him!: for love is especially manifested when people are afflicted: "A brother is born for adversity" (Prv 17:17). As for the mystical sense, we understand by this that God loves us even when we are sinners, for if he did not love us he would not have said: "For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt 9:13). So we read in Jeremiah (31:3): "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you."
1539 Those who doubted his previous miracle were from the
group which envied Christ. The Evangelist says, But some of them, the
Jews, said, Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this
man from dying? It was the same as saying: If he loved him so much that he
now weeps over his death, it seems that he did not want him to die, for sadness
concerns things that we do not want. So, if he died against Christ's wishes, it
seems that Christ was not able to prevent his death; and all the more it seems
that he could not open the eyes of the man born blind. Or, one could say that
the Jews were speaking out of wonder or astonishment, as Elisha spoke when he
said, "Where is the Lord, the God of Elijah?" (2 Kings 2:14); and David in
"Lord, where is thy steadfast love of old?" (Ps 89:49).
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it
was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone."
Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will
be an odor, for he has been dead for four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I
not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 So
they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I
thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 I knew that thou hearest me always, but
I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe
that thou didst send me." 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice,
"Lazarus, come out." 44 [Immediately] the dead man came out, his hands and feet
bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them,
"Unbind him, and let him go."
38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead for four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me." 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out." 44 [Immediately] the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."
1540 The Evangelist, after having given certain preambles to the raising of Lazarus, now presents the raising itself. He considers four things: first, Christ's arrival at the tomb; second, the removal of the stone (v 39); third, Christ's prayer; and fourth, the actual raising of the dead Lazarus (v 43).
1541 In regard to the first he says, Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. The Evangelist is careful to frequently mention that Christ wept and was deeply moved because, as Chrysostom says, he will later show the power of his divinity. And so he affirms that Christ experienced the weaker and humbler marks of our nature so that we do not doubt the reality of his human nature. And just as John shows his divine nature and power more explicitly than the other Evangelists, so he also mentions his weaker aspects, and other such things which especially reveal the affections of Christ's human nature.
As for the mystical sense, he was deeply moved in order that we might understand that those who rise from sin should continue to weep without interruption, according to: "All the day I go about mourning" (Ps 38:6).
Or, one could say that while Christ was deeply moved before due to the death of Lazarus, he is deeply moved now because of the unbelief of the Jews. Thus the Evangelist mentioned their doubt about his previous miracle, when they said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying." Indeed, he was deeply moved with compassion and pity for these Jews: "He saw a great throng; and he had compassion on them" (Matt 14:14).
1542 The Evangelist next mentions the removal of the stone; and he does four things about this. First, he describes the stone; secondly, he mentions the order of Christ to remove it; thirdly, he adds the objection to taking away the stone; fourthly, he states that the order was carried out.
1543 The stone is described as being over the tomb; he says, it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Note that in those regions they had certain cavities in the form of caves that were used as human burial places, and in them they could bury many bodies over the course of time. So they have an entrance which they could close and open with a stone when necessary. Thus we read, a stone lay upon it, i.e., over the entrance to the cave. We read the same in Genesis (c 23) when Abraham purchased a field and a cave for the burial of his wife Sarah.
In the mystical sense, the cave signifies the depths of sin, which it is said: "I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me" (Ps 69:2). The stone laid upon the cave signifies the Law, which was written on stone, and which did not take away sin, but held them in sin, because they sinned more gravely in acting against the Law. Thus we read in Galatians (3:22): "The scripture consigned all things to sin" (Gal 3:22).
1544 Then when he says, Jesus said, Take away the stone, he gives Christ's order to remove the stone. One might ask: Since it is a greater thing to raise the dead than to remove a stone, why did not Christ also use his power to remove the stone? Chrysostom says that this was done in order to secure greater certitude about this miracle, that is, to make them such witnesses to the miracle that they could not, like they did in the case of the blind man, say and maintain that this was not the same person.
As for the mystical sense, according to Augustine, the removing of the stone signifies the removal of the weight of the legal observances from Christ's faithful who came into the Church from the Gentiles, for some wanted to impose these observances on them. Thus St. James says: "For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things" (Acts 15:28); and Peter says in the same work: "Why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear" (Acts 15:10). Concerning this our Lord says, Take away the stone, i.e., the burden of the Law, and preach peace.
Or, the stone signifies those in the Church who live wickedly, and so are a scandal to those who would believe, because they hinder their conversion. We read about this stone in Psalm 91 (v 12): "Lest you dash your foot against a stone." This is the stone that our Lord orders removed: "Remove every obstruction from my people's way" (Is 57:14).
1545 Next, we see Martha's objection. First, we see what she said; secondly, the words of Christ's answer.
1546 The Evangelist mentions Martha's words when he says, Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days. As for the literal sense, this happened in order to show the truth of the miracle, as his members were already beginning to corrupt and dissolve. As for the mystical sense, one who habitually sins is said to smell, that is, the foul odor of his reputation is spread abroad by his sins. For just as good works spread a good odor, as the Apostle says - "We are the aroma of Christ to God" (2 Cor 2:15) - so from evil works there arises an evil odor and a stench. Such a person is aptly described in terms of "four days," for he is pressed by the weight of earthly sins and sensual desires, and earth is the last of the four elements: "The stench and foul smell of him will rise" (Joel 2:20).
1547 Christ answers her, saying, Did not I tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? Here our Lord seems to reprove Martha for not remembering what Christ had said to her: "He who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live." For Martha was not certain that Christ could raise a person who had been dead four days. Although Christ had recently raised certain dead persons, this seemed impossible to believe of her brother because of the long time he had been dead. And so our Lord said, Did not I tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God? that is, the raising of your brother, by which God will be glorified.
Although our Lord had said to his apostles before that this miracle would be for his glory, saying, "so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it" (11:4), that is, by means of this death, he now says to Martha that this miracle will be for the glory of God. The reason for this is that the glory of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is the same. However, he did not mention the glory of the Son here so as not to excite the Jews who were present and ready to dispute him.
1548 These words of our Lord suggest two fruits of our faith. The first is the performing of miracles, which is due to faith: "If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move hence to yonder place,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you" (Matt 17:19). The Apostle also says: "If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains…." (1 Cor 13:2); and in Mark (16:20) we read: "And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it." Now this working of miracles is for the glory of God; thus he says, if you would believe you would see the glory of God.
The second fruit is the vision of eternal glory, which is due as a reward to faith; thus he says, you would see the glory of God: "If you do not believe, you will not understand," as we read in Isaiah [7:9], in an alternate version; and in 1 Corinthians it is said: "For now we see in a mirror dimly," by faith, "but then face to face."
1549 Next, the Evangelist mentions that the command was carried out, saying, So they took away the stone. We may consider here, according to Origen, that the delay in removing the stone was caused by the sister of the deceased. Consequently, the raising of her brother was delayed as long as she detained Christ with her talk; but as soon as the command of Christ was obediently carried out, her brother was raised. And we can learn from this not to interpose anything between the commands of Christ and their execution if we desire the effect of salvation to follow at once: "As soon as they heard of me they obeyed me" (Ps 18:44).
1550 Then he considers the prayer of Christ, in which he gives thanks. The Evangelist mentions four things in this regard. First, he mentions his way of praying; secondly, the efficacy of his prayer; thirdly, he excludes Christ's need to pray; and fourthly he mentions the usefulness of his prayer.
1551 Christ's way of praying is appropriate, because Jesus lifted up his eyes, that is, he lifted up his understanding, directing it in prayer to the Father above. As for us, if we wish to pray according to the example of Christ's prayer, we have to raise the eyes of our mind to him by turning them from the memories, thoughts and desires of present things. We also lift our eyes to God when we do not rely on our own merits, but hope in his mercy alone: "To thee I lift up my eyes, O thou who art enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he have mercy upon us" (Ps 123:1); and "Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven" (Lam 3:41).
1552 He mentions the efficacy of this prayer when he says, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. Here we have a sign that God is quick to give, as we read: "Lord, thou wilt hear the desire of the meek" (Ps 10:17), so that he hears our desires even before they are put into words: "He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you" (Is 30:19); and again in the same book: "While they are yet speaking I will hear" (65:24). Therefore, with much more reason we can think that God the Father, anticipating the prayer of our Lord, the Savior, would have heard him: for the tears which Christ shed at the death of Lazarus acted as a prayer.
By giving thanks at the beginning of his prayer, Christ gives us the example that when we pray, we should thank God for the benefits we have already received before asking for new ones: "Give thanks in all circumstances" (1 Thess 5:18).
1553 If the phrase, that thou hast heard me, is interpreted as applying to Christ insofar as he is human, there is no difficulty: for as having a human nature Christ is less than the Father and, accordingly, it is appropriate for him to pray to the Father and be heard by him. But if, as Chrysostom wants, it is applied to Christ as God, then there is a problem: for as God, it is not fitting that he pray or be heard, but rather that he hear the prayers of others. Consequently, it should be said that one is heard when his will is fulfilled. Now the will of the Father is always fulfilled, because "He does whatever he pleases" (Ps 115:3). Therefore, since the will of the Father is the same as the will of the Son, whenever the Father fulfills his own will, he fulfills the will of the Son. Thus, the Son says, as Word, that thou hast heard me, i.e., that you have done those things which were in your Word to be done. For he spoke and they were done.
1554 Christ's need to pray is excluded when he says, I knew that thou hearest me always. Here our Lord vaguely shows his own divinity. As if to say: In order that my will be done I do not need prayer, because from eternity my will has been fulfilled: "In all things he was heard for his reverence" [Heb 5:7]. I knew with certitude that thou hearest me, the Word, always: because whatever you do, these things are in me to be done.
1555 Again, thou hearest me in my human nature always, because my will is always conformed to your will. But I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me. We understand from this that our Lord did and said many things for the benefit of others: "For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you" (13:15). For every action of Christ is a lesson for us. In particular, Christ wanted to show by his prayer that he was not separated from the Father, but recognized him as his principle. And so he added, that they may believe that thou didst send me: "And this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent" (17:3); "God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law" (Gal 4:4). And this is the benefit coming from his prayer.
1556 Now the Evangelist considers the raising of Lazarus; and he does three things. First, he mentions the voice of the one awakening him; secondly, the effect of his voice (v 44); and thirdly, the command to unbind the one awakened.
1557 The voice of the one awakening Lazarus is described as loud: When he had said this, that is, Jesus, he cried with a loud voice. As for the literal sense, this was done to refute the error of certain Jews and of the Gentiles that the souls of the dead lingered in the tombs with their bodies. So, he cried with a loud voice, as though summoning from afar the soul which was not present in the tomb.
Or, and this is a better explanation, it might be said that Christ's voice is described as loud because of its great power: for its power was so great that it raised Lazarus who had been dead four days, just as one asleep is roused from sleep: "He gave power to his voice" [Ps 67:34]. Further, this loud voice represents that loud voice which will sound at the general resurrection and by which all will be roused from their graves: "At midnight there was a cry" (Matt 25:6).
He cried out, I say, saying, Lazarus, come out. He called him by his own name because such was the power of his voice that all the dead without distinction would have been awakened if he had not limited it to one by mentioning his name, as Augustine says when speaking of the Word of the Lord. Again, we understand from this that Christ calls sinners to come out from living in sin: "Come out of her, my people" (Rev 18:4). We are also called to let our sins come out of concealment by revealing them in confession: "If I have concealed my transgressions from men" (Job 31:33).
1558 Then (v 44), the effect of this voice is given: first, the resurrection of the dead man; secondly, his condition. The resurrection of the dead man was immediately after our Lord's command: immediately the dead man came out. For such was the power of Christ's voice that it gave life without any delay, as will happen at the general resurrection when the dead will rise in the twinkling of an eye when they hear the sound of the trumpet: "And the dead in Christ will rise first" (1 Thess 4:16). For Christ's mission was already being anticipated, as it was stated above: "The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live" (5:25). In this way what our Lord said was fulfilled: "I go to awake him" (11:11).
As to the condition of the one rising, he is described as having his hands and feet bound with bandages, with which the people of ages past wrapped their dead, and his face wrapped with a cloth, in order to hide his gruesome appearance. He was commanded to rise bound and wrapped to provide a greater proof of the miracle.
1559 When Jesus says, Unbind him and let him go, he orders that he be unbound so that those who do this may be more reliable witnesses to the miracle and have it more forcefully impressed on their memory. Furthermore, when they approach and touch him, they can see that is really he. He adds, and let him go, to show that this miracle is not an illusion: for at times certain magicians have seemed to raise the dead, but those who were raised could not live as they formerly had because their raising was not real but illusory.
1560 Augustine gives a mystical explanation to this entire verse beginning at The dead man came out. He does this in two ways, depending on two ways of coming out. The sinner comes out when by repenting he passes from the practice of sin to the state of righteousness: "Come out from them, and be separate from them" (2 Cor 6:17). However, his hands are bound with bandages, i.e., with carnal desires, because, although he is rising from his sins, he cannot escape such annoyances as long as he lives in the body. Thus the Apostle says: "I of myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin" (Rom 7:25). His face being wrapped with a cloth signifies that in this life we cannot have full knowledge of God: "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face" (1 Cor 12:12). Christ commands them to unbind him and let him go because after this life all the veils are lifted from those who rise from sin, so that they may contemplate God "face to face" (1 Cor 12:12). Then we will be unbound from the corruptibility of the flesh which is like a chain binding and weighing down the soul and keeping it from full and clear contemplation: "Loose the bonds from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion" (Is 52:2). This is one way to come out in a spiritual manner, and is given by Augustine in his work, The Book of Eighty-Three Questions.
Another way to come out is by confession, about which it is said: "He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy" (Prv 28:13). One comes out in this way by leaving his secret sins by disclosing them in confession. Now that one confesses is due to God calling him with a loud voice, that is, by grace. And the one who confesses, as still guilty, is the dead person still wrapped in bandages. In order for his sins to be loosed, the ministers are commanded to loose him and let him go. For the disciples loose those whom Christ by himself vivifies inwardly, because they are absolved, being vivified by the ministry of the priests: "Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matt 16:19).
1561 Some who consider this mystery say that just as Christ by himself vivified Lazarus, and once he was vivified he was ordered to be loosed by the disciples, so God vivifies a soul from within by grace by remitting its guilt and absolving it from the debt of eternal punishment; but priests, by the power of the keys, absolve in regard to the temporal punishment. But this position attributes too little to the keys of the Church. For it is proper to the sacraments of the New Law that in them grace is conferred. But the sacraments exist in the administration of the ministers. Thus, in the sacrament of penance, contrition and confession behave materially on the part of the one receiving the sacrament; but the causative power of the sacrament lies in the absolution of the priest, by the power of the keys, through which he somehow applies the effect of our Lord's passion to the one he absolves so that he obtains remission. Therefore, if the priest only absolved the punishment, the sacrament of penance would not confer a grace by which guilt is remitted; and consequently it would not be a sacrament of the New Law. Therefore, one must say that just as in the sacrament of baptism, the priest, by pronouncing the words and washing outwardly, exercises the ministry of baptism, while Christ baptizes inwardly, so the priest, by the power of the keys, outwardly administers the ministry of absolution, while Christ remits the guilt by grace.
1562 Yet a difficulty arises from the fact that those who usually come for baptism are children who have not been justified before baptism, but obtain the grace of remission in baptism, whereas those who come for absolution are adults, who usually have obtained the remission of their sins beforehand by contribution; consequently, the absolution that follows seem to contribute nothing to the remission of sins.
If this matter is carefully
considered as affecting adults, in both cases it will be seen that there is a
perfect parallel. For it happens that certain adults having a desire to be
baptized obtain the remission of their sins by the baptism of desire before
they actually receive the sacrament of baptism; and yet the baptism which
follows, so far as what it is of itself is concerned, effects the remission of
sins, although it does not so function in a person whose sins are already
remitted, but he obtains only an increase of grace. However, if an adult was
not perfectly disposed before baptism to obtain the remission of his sins,
still in the very act of being baptized he obtains their remission by the power
of baptism, unless he places some obstacle to the Holy Spirit by his
insincerity. The same must be said of penance. For if a person was fully
contrite before the absolution of the priest, he obtains the remission of his
sins by having the desire to subject himself to the keys of the Church, without
which there would not be true contrition. But if there was not beforehand a
full contrition sufficient for remission, he obtains the remission of his guilt
in the absolution, unless he puts an obstacle to the Holy Spirit. And the same
is true in the Eucharist and in the Anointing of the Sick, and in the other
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary [to
Mary and Martha] and had seen what he did, believed in him; 46 but some of them
went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief
priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, "What are we to do?
For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will
believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our place and our
nation." 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to
them, "You know nothing at all; 50 you do not understand that it is expedient
for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation
should not perish." 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high
priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, 52 and not
for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are
scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary [to Mary and Martha] and had seen what he did, believed in him; 46 but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, "What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. 48 If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our place and our nation." 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all; 50 you do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation should not perish." 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death.
1563 After describing the death and resurrection of Lazarus, the Evangelist now sets forth the effect of his resurrection. First, its effect on the people; secondly, its effect on their leaders (v 47).
1564 He does two things concerning the first. First, he says that certain ones among them believed, Many of the Jews therefore, who had come to Mary and Martha to console them, and had seen what he did, believed in him. And no wonder, because such a miracle had not been heard of from the beginning of time, that is, that one dead four days in the tomb should be raised to life. Also, our Lord had said that he would perform this miracle for those standing by, so that they might believe in him. And so his words were not empty, but many believed because of the miracle they saw: "Jews demand signs" (1 Cor 1:22).
1565 Secondly, he mentions that some were spreading news of the miracle, saying, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. This can be understood in two ways. In one way, they told the chief priests what Jesus had done in order to soften them towards Christ and to reproach them for conspiring against Jesus, who had worked such marvels. In another way, and this is better, they told them these things in order to incite them against Christ: for they were unbelievers and were scandalized at the miracle. This is clear from the way the Evangelist describes it, for after saying that many of the Jews…believed in him, he adds in contrast, but some of them went to the Pharisees. These are the ones of whom we read: "Though he had done so many signs before them, yet they did not believe in him…For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God" (12:37, 43).
1566 Next (v 47), the Evangelist mentions the effect of the miracle on the leaders. First, we have their evil conspiracy against Christ; secondly, we see how Christ escaped it (v 54). He does three things concerning the first. First, he mentions the gathering of the council; secondly, the problem that confronted them (v 47); and thirdly, their solution of this problem (v 49).
1567 In regard to the first, three things are mentions about the wickedness of the chief priests. First of all, their status: for they were not the common people, but the chief priests and the Pharisees. Chief priests, because they were in charge of sacred matters; and they were Pharisees because they had the appearance of religion. Thus was fulfilled what was stated in Genesis (49:5): "Simeon and Levi are brothers; weapons of violence are their swords": for the founders of the sect of the Pharisees were descended from Simeon, and the chief priests were clearly from the tribe of Levi.
Secondly, we see that their wickedness was deliberate; thus he says, they gathered the council in order to make their plans: "O my soul, come not into their council" (Gen 49:6); "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked" (Ps 1:1). But we also read: "No counsel can avail against the Lord" (Prv 21:30).
Thirdly, we see their evil intention, because it was against Jesus, i.e., the Savior: "All who hate me whisper together about me; they imagine the worst for me" (Ps 41:7); "Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah" (Jer 18:18).
1568 Now (v 47b), he mentions their problem: first, he gives the reason for this problem; secondly, the core of the problem (v 48).
1569 It was the miracles of Christ that raised their problem; so they said, What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. They were blind, for they still called him a man after such a great demonstration of his divinity. As he himself said: "The works which the Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness" (5:35). In truth, they were no less foolish than the blind because they wondered what they should do, whereas there was nothing for them to do but believe: "What signs do you do, that we may see, and believe you?" (6:30). See how many signs he did work! Even they said, this man performs many signs: "Their wickedness blinded them" (Wis 2:21).
1570 The root of their problem was that they feared the losses that would follow. The Evangelist mentions two things referring to this. First, their loss of spiritual leadership. He says about this, If we let him go on thus, every one will believe in him. This, of course, would be the best for all concerned, because it is faith in Christ that saves and leads to eternal life: "But these are written that you may believe…and that believing you may have life in his name" (20:31). But in relation to their wicked intention this was terrifying to them, for they believed that no one who believed in Christ would obey them. And so, because of their ambition, they backed away from salvation and took others with themselves: "But Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first does not acknowledge my authority" (3 Jn 1:9).
1571 Secondly, he mentions their ambition for temporal possessions when he says, and the Romans will come and destroy both our place and our nation. This seems to follow from the other, as Augustine says, for if all believed in Christ, there would be no one left to defend the temple of God against the Romans, because they would have abandoned the holy temple and the laws of their fathers, as they thought the teaching of Christ was directed against these. But this does not really seem to have much bearing on the issue, since they would still be subject to the Romans and would not be planning to war against them. Thus, it seems better to say, with Chrysostom, that they said this because they observed that Christ was being honored by the people as a king. And because the Romans had ordered that no one could be king unless they had appointed him, they were afraid that if the Romans heard that they were regarding Christ as a king, they would look upon the Jews as rebels. Then they would move against them and destroy their city and nation: "Every one who makes himself a king sets himself against Caesar" (19:12).
1572 Notice their pitiable state, for they fear nothing but the loss of temporal things, and do not think of eternal life: "The fountain of Jacob alone, in a land of grain and wine" (Deut 33:28). But as we read in Proverbs (10:24): "What the wicked dreads will come upon him"; and so after our Lord's passion and glorification, the Romans overcame and displaced them, taking their land and nation.
1573 The Evangelist sets down the resolution of the problem when he says, But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them. First, we have the decision; secondly, the explanation of the decision (v 51); and thirdly, its acceptance by the assembly (v 53). Concerning the first he does two things. First, he describes the one making the decision; secondly, he gives the words of the decision.
1574 The one making the decision is described by his name and office. By his name, that is, Caiaphas. This name was appropriate to his wickedness for it means, first of all, "investigator," and it attests to his presumption: "He who is a searcher of majesty shall be overwhelmed by glory" [Prv 25:27]. For he was presumptuous when he said, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God" (Matt 26:63). Secondly, it means "sagacious," which testifies to his cunning, because he strove to procure the death of Christ. Thirdly, it means "vomiting," which attests to his foolishness: "Like a dog that returns to his vomit" (Prv 26:11).
He is described by his office, namely, as high priest that year. Here we should note, as stated in Leviticus (c 8), that the Lord appointed one high priest, at whose death another was to succeed and was to exercise the office of high priest throughout his life. But later, as ambition and quarrels grew among the Jews, it was agreed that there should be a number of high priests, and that all who had attained to this office would exercise it in turn, year by year. (And sometimes they obtained this office by money; as Josephus says.) And to indicate this situation he says of the time, that year.
1575 Next (v 49b), the Evangelist gives the words of the one making the decision, who first reproaches them for their sluggishness, saying, You know nothing at all; you do not understand. This was like saying: You are sluggish and you understand this affair even more sluggishly. And so, secondly, he reveals his wickedness, saying, it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people.
These words have one meaning according to the intention of Caiaphas, and another according to the explanation of the Evangelist. In order to explain them according to the evil intention of Caiaphas, we should note that, as mentioned in Deuteronomy (13:1), the Lord had commanded: "If a prophet arises among you, or a dreamer of dreams…and if he says, 'Let us go after other gods,'…that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death." And so, according to this law, Caiaphas believed that Christ would turn the people from the worship of God: "We found this man perverting our nation" (Lk 23:2). Thus he says, You know nothing at all, that is, the Law. You do not understand that it is expedient for you that one man, this man, should die, so that the whole nation is not deceived. This is like saying: The welfare of one man must be ignored for the public good. Thus Deuteronomy (13:5) continues: "So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you." "Drive out the wicked person from among you" (1 Cor 5:13).
1576 But the Evangelist explains this another way, saying, He did not say this of his own accord. He mentions three things: first, the author of these words; secondly, their correct meaning (v 51b); and thirdly, the Evangelist adds to the words of Caiaphas (v 52).
1577 In regard to the first we should note that because one might suppose that Caiaphas spoke these words by his own impulse, the Evangelist rejects this, saying, He did not say this of his own accord. By this he lets us understand that at times a person does speak of his own accord. For a human being is what is the chief thing in him; but this is the intellect and reason. Thus a human being is what he is because of reason. Therefore, when a human being speaks from his own reason, he speaks of his own accord. But when he speaks under a higher and external impulse he does not speak of his own accord. Now this happens in two ways. Sometimes one is moved by the divine Spirit: "It is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matt 10:20). But sometimes one is moved by a wicked spirit, as those who rave. And both of these are sometimes said to prophesy. That those who are moved by the Holy Spirit prophesy is asserted in 2 Peter (1:21): "No prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Again, that those moved by a wicked spirit prophesy is found in Jeremiah (29:26): "The Lord has made you a priest instead of Jehoiada the priest, to have charge in the house of the Lord over every madman [one who raves] who prophesies."
Note also that at times some may speak by an impulse of the Holy Spirit or of an evil spirit in such a way that they lose the use of reason and are somehow seized. At other times, the use of reason can remain and they are not seized. When the sense powers are overflowing due to a higher impression, the reason is hindered, and disturbed and seized. An evil spirit has the power of affecting the imagination, since it is a power united to a physical organ. And such an evil spirit can so affect the imagination by a strong impression that as a result the reason is hindered; yet it is not forced to consent. This is the condition of those seized by an evil spirit.
1578 We have to decide, therefore, whether Caiaphas spoke these words by the impulse of the Holy Spirit or of an evil spirit. It seems that he did not speak by the impulse of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth (cf. Jer 15), and the wicked spirit is the spirit of lying: "I will go forth, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets" (1 Kgs 22:22). But it is obvious that Caiaphas spoke a lie, saying, it is expedient for you that one man should die. Therefore, he did not speak by an impulse of the Holy Spirit, as it seems, but he prophesied by the impulse of a raving wicked spirit.
However, this does not seem to agree with the words of the Evangelist, for if it were such John would not have added, who was high priest that year. He mentions the dignity of Caiaphas in order to suggest that he spoke by an impulse of the Holy Spirit to speak truths about the future for the precise benefit of their subjects. Apropos of what is said in opposition to this, namely, that the statement, it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, is false, this can be answered this way. The death of Christ considered in itself was expedient for all, even for those who killed him: "who is the savior of all men, especially of those who believe" (1 Tim 4:10); "So that by the grace of God he might taste death for every one" (Heb 2:9). In another way, one can take it is expedient for you as meaning "for the people." Hence the Evangelist, where Caiaphas says that one man should die for the people, uses below the words for the nation.
1579 The words of the Evangelist seem to indicate that he was a prophet, since he says, he prophesied; for if a person prophesies, it follows that he is a prophet. According to Origen, however, it does not follow that every one who prophesies is a prophet; but if one is a prophet, he does prophesy. For sometimes an act is granted to a person, but not the state to which it is appropriate: for example, not every one who does something just is just, but one who is just does just things.
Furthermore, it should be noted that two acts concur in order that someone prophesy: namely, seeing - "He who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer" (1 Sam 9:9) - and announcing - "He who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding and encouragement" (1 Cor 14:3). Now it sometimes happens that a person has both, and yet is not properly speaking a prophet: for sometimes a person has a prophetic vision, as Nebuchadnezaar and Pharaoh, and similarly announces the vision to others; yet they cannot be called prophets because they lack something, namely, an understanding of the vision, which is necessary in a vision, as stated in Daniel [10:1]: "A word was revealed to Daniel…and he understood the word: for there is need of understanding a vision." Caiaphas, however, although he did not have a prophetic vision, did announce a prophetic matter insofar as he announced the benefit of Christ's death. For sometimes the Holy Spirit moves one to all that pertains to prophecy, and sometimes to something only. In the case of Caiaphas, he enlightened neither his mind nor his imagination. Consequently, his mind and imagination remained intent on evil; yet he moved his tongue to tell the manner in which the salvation of the people would be accomplished. Thus, he is not called a prophet except insofar as he performed a prophetic act in announcing, his imagination and reason remaining fixed in the contrary. It is clear from this that he was no more a prophet than was Balaam's donkey.
1580 When the Evangelist says, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad, the Evangelist adds to the words of the high priest, and says that Jesus was to die not only for the nation of the Jewish people, as Caiaphas said - "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood" (Heb 13:12) - but he adds, even for the whole world. Thus he added, to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.
Here one must guard against the error of the Manichees, who said that certain souls are the divine substance and are called the children of God, and that God came to gather together these children into one. This is erroneous because it is stated in Ezekiel (18:4): "All souls are mine," that is, by creation. Consequently, the statement, to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad, does not mean that they have already received the spirit of adoption, because, as Gregory says, they were as yet neither his sheep nor children of God by adoption. Rather it should be taken according to predestination. It is as though he were saying: to gather into one, namely, into the unity of the faith - "And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also…so there shall be one flock, one shepherd" (10:16); "The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts [the dispersed] of Israel" (Ps 147:2) - the children of God, predestined from eternity - "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born of many brethren" (Rom 8:29), the brethren, that is, who are scattered abroad in diverse ceremonies and nations.
1581 Then when he says, So from that day on they took
counsel how to put him to death, the Evangelist sets down the agreement
among the Jews on the death of Christ. But did they not previously think of
putting him to death? It seems so, because before in many places it is stated
that the Jews sought to kill him. I answer that they previously did have some
desire to kill him, but from that day on, incited to anger by the words
of Caiaphas, they ended with a firm proposal to kill him "For their feet run to
evil" (Prv 1:16).
54 Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the
Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called
Ephraim; and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the
Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the
Passover, to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to
one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? That he will not
come to the feast?" 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders
that if any one knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might
54 Jesus therefore no longer went about openly among the Jews, but went from there to the country near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim; and there he stayed with the disciples. 55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think? That he will not come to the feast?" 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if any one knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.
1582 Here the Evangelist sets down how Christ escaped from their malice: first, the way he escaped; secondly, the effect this had on the people of making them question (v 56).
1583 The way he escaped was to hide himself and leave the presence of the Jews: for after their plan, he moved more cautiously and no longer went about openly among the Jews. He did not withdraw to a populated city, but into a remote region, a country near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim; and there he stayed with his disciples.
1584 But did he lack the power by which, if he had wished, he could have lived publicly among the Jews and they would not do anything to him? Of course not. He did not do this because he did not have the power, but as an example for the disciples. This shows that it is not a sin if his faithful withdraw from the sight of their persecutors, choosing rather to evade the fury of the wicked by hiding, than kindle it more by showing themselves: "When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next" (Matt 10:23).
Moreover, Origen says that no one should place himself in danger; but when dangers are immediately threatening, it is very praiseworthy not to run from professing Christ or not to refuse to suffer death for the sake of the truth. No one should place himself in danger for two reason. First, because it is very presumptuous to place oneself in danger, both on account of a lack of experience of one's own virtue, which is sometimes found to be fragile, and on account of the uncertainty about the outcome; "Let any one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor 10:12). Secondly, lest by presenting ourselves to our persecutors, we give them the occasion to be more wicked and culpable: "Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God" (1 Cor 10:32).
1585 Now the effect of his leaving, that the people questioned, is set down: first, the occasion for their questioning; secondly, their questioning; and thirdly, the reason for their questioning.
1586 Two occasions for their questioning and wondering are mentioned. The first was the nature of the time, because the Passover of the Jews was at hand, when the flight of the Hebrews out of Egypt was recalled: "It is the Lord's Passover" (Ex 12:11). He adds, of the Jews, because they celebrated their Passover in an unholy and unbecoming way: for when one celebrates the Passover in a devout way it is called the Passover of God: "Your assemblies I will not abide," as we read in Isaiah (1:13).
The second occasion was gathering of the people, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem. For as we see from Exodus (c 23), the children of Israel were to present themselves to the Lord three times a year on the three festivals, and the foremost of these was the Passover. And so a great number traveled to Jerusalem, where the temple was located. But because it was not yet actually the Paschal time, when they were obliged to go, the Evangelist tells why they went then, adding, before the Passover, to purify themselves. For no one dared to eat the lamb if he was unclean, and so they went before the Passover so that, by purifying themselves in the meantime, they could fittingly eat the lamb on the Passover. This gives us an example that we should purify ourselves during Lent by fasts and good works, so that on the Passover we might receive the body of our Lord in a fitting manner.
1587 The reason for their questioning is mentioned as due to Christ's absence: they were looking for Jesus, not to honor him, but to tell him, and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, what do you think? That he will not come to the feast? But note that when a festival day is celebrated in a holy manner, Christ is always present: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them" (Matt 18:20). And so let us, when we gather together in the house of God, seek Jesus by consoling each other and by praying that he come to our festival day. But Jesus does not come when a feast is not celebrated in a holy manner: "Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates" (Is 1:4).
1588 He adds the reason for their questioning and for the absence of Jesus, saying, the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if any one knew where he was, that is, Jesus, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him, to kill him. "You will seek me and die in your sin" (8:21). As Augustine says, we who know where Christ is, that is, at the right hand of the Father, should tell them so that they may truly apprehend him by faith.
 St. Thomas refers to Jn 11:3 in the Summa Theologiae: II-II, q. 83, a. 17.
 cf. Jerome, Evang. Ioan.; PL 29, col. 670; Origen.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 342; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:1-5.
 Augustine, De consensus evangelistarum, 2, ch. 79; PL 34; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:1-5.
Gregory, Epistola V ad Theoctistam; PL 77; col. 449C.
 Ambrose, Expos. sec. Lucam, I, ch. 8; PL 15, col. 1537B.
 Sermones de Verbis Domini 52; PL 38; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:1-5.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 5, col. 1749; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:1-5.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 343; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:1-5.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 7, col. 1749; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:1-5.
 See Moralia, Lib. 7, ch. 28, no. 34; PL 75, col. 784C
 Chrysostom-did not seem to be in In Ioannem.
 Theolphylactus; probably (Enarratio in Evangelium S. Ioannis; PG 124;) cf. Catena Aurea, 11:6-10.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 8, col. 1750; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:6-10.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 343; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:11-16.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 9, col. 1751; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:11-16.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 2; PG 59, col. 344; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:11-16.
 See Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 12; PL 35, col. 1752.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 12, col. 1752-3; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:17-27.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 2; PG 59, col. 345.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 2; PG 59, col. 345; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:17-27.
 In Ioannem hom., 62, ch. 3; PG 59, col. 346; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:17-27.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 15, col. 1745; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:17-27.
 Tract. in Io., 49, 16; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:17-27.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 17, col. 1754; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:28-32.
 Sermones de Verbis Domini 52; PL 38; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:28-32.
 Summa-Christ's weeping proves the appropriateness of human emotions to some situations; Christ's emotions as wholly under the control of His reason.
 St. Thomas refers to Jn 11:41 in the Summa Theologiae: III, q. 21, a. 3; q. 43, a. 1; q. 43, a. 2, obj. 2; Jn 42, III, q. 21, a. 1, ad 1; q. 21, a. 3, ad 1; q. 43, a. 2, ad 2.
 In Ioannem hom., 63, ch. 1; PG 59, col. 350; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:33-41.
 In Ioannem hom., 63, ch. 2; PG 59, col 350-351; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:33-41.
 Tract. in Io., 49 ch. 22, col. 1756; also De diversis quaest. 83, q. 61; Cf. Catena Aurea, 11:33-41.
 Origen, In Ioan., XXVIII, ch. 3; PG 14, col. 371; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:33-41.
 In Ioannem hom., 64, ch. 2; PG 59, col. 357; cf. Catena Aurea, 41-46.
 Sermones de Verbis Domini 52; PL 38; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:41-46.
 De diversis quaest. 83, q. 65; PL 40, col. 60; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:41-46.
 Summa-in the sacrament of penance, sins are forgiven and punishment remitted through the ministry of the priest.
 St. Thomas refers to Jn 11:47 in the Summa Theologiae: q. 43, a. 1, s. c.; Jn 11:50: ST III, q. 50, a. 1, s. c.; Jn 11:51: ST II-II, q. 173, a. 4, s. c.
 Tract. in Io., 49, ch. 26, col. 1757; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:47-53.
 In Ioannem hom., 64, ch. 3; PG 59, col 359; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:47-53.
 Origen, In Ioan., XXVIII, ch. 12; PG 14, col. 384; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:47-53.
 See Hom. IV, ch. 1; PL 76, col. 1089-90.
 Origen, In Ioan., XXVIII, ch. 18; PG 14, col. 397; cf. Catena Aurea, 54-57.
 Tract. in Io., 50, ch. 4, col. 1759; cf. Catena Aurea, 11:54-57.