The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ

By Johann Peter Lange

Edited by Rev. Marcus Dods







the raising of Lazarus at Bethany

(Joh 11:1-44)

The occasion which led our Lord to shorten His ministry in Perea, and to go to Judea again a considerable time before His last Passover, is related to us by John in the account which he gives of the awakening of Lazarus at Bethany. The Evangelist places Mary in the foreground of the story; for, viewed in the order of those circumstances of the mind and spirit which with John always form the ground from which he looks at things, Mary was the chief person. Bethany he describes as ‘the town of Mary and her sister Martha:’ he makes reference by anticipation to that act of Mary’s which she afterwards performed, and by which she secured to herself an imperishable name with the Church, namely, that she ‘anointed the Lord with ointment:’ and Lazarus himself, in preference to any other description, he introduces to the reader as ‘the brother of Mary.’ This Lazarus who of the other sex formed the centre of that household, in which the Lord in the path of His earthly pilgrimage found refreshments of the noblest friendship prepared for Him, had fallen ill. The sisters were aware that Jesus was staying in Perea, and sent a message to Him there. ‘Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick:’ so ran the sisters’ thoughtful message, invoking His help in a way as delicate as it was urgent. Jesus received the intelligence with the declaration, ‘This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.’ That He was in a position to learn the particulars of the illness from the messenger, is obvious enough. But it is equally clear, that from the very first He contemplated the issue of the illness as it actually occurred; namely, that Lazarus would die, and that He already entertained the purpose of re-awakening him. For else He could not have said so distinctly and so emphatically of this particular illness, that it was a dispensation through which He was Himself to be glorified.1 The expression in which He gave utterance to this conviction, ‘This sickness is not unto death,’ proceeded from the same way of looking at things as His word respecting Jairus’ daughter, ‘The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.’ Death itself was not death, for Him in the sense in which it was so for the world; for His life had the power of breaking its way into the kingdom of death and of annihilating death. This word of Jesus, therefore, was a word dictated by the deepest truthfulness; but it was also a word veiled in studied obscurity. The disciples might very possibly understand it differently; and it might very well happen that they and the messenger likewise would be led by the obscure utterance to conjecture that Jesus meant to bring Lazarus’ restoration to pass by a distinct operation of His power, as Ebrard supposes.2 After He had thus made to the messenger and to His disciples a declaration relative to Lazarus’ illness which was calculated to allay their fears, He went on with the work of His ministry in Perea. ‘Although he loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, He yet abode two days still in the place where He was.’ We have seen how it might be that just about this time He would be occupied with varied ministrations; although there can be no doubt that it would also be completely according to His wish, that this circumstance should furnish a testing of faith for His two friends at Bethany, and an authentication of His own divine power.3

But when the two days were over, He Himself summoned the disciples to the journey. ‘Let us go into Judea again!’ The disciples, however, are full of the painful recollection of the persecutions from which their Master had had so narrow an escape at Jerusalem only a short while ago. It deeply grieves them to see Him wishing to betake Himself thither so soon again. ‘Master,’ they said, ‘the Jews of late sought to stone Thee; and goest Thou thither again?’ But He knew well that His death would come neither sooner nor later through His now journeying into Judea. It was with this feeling in His mind that He addressed Himself to calm their apprehensions. ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walketh in the day, he stumbleth not; for he sees the light of this world. But if a man walketh in the night, he stumbleth; for the light is not in him.’ The foremost sentiment expressed in these words is the assurance, that He had the twelve hours of His calling in life in full assigned to Him, and that He had no danger to apprehend of falling within this time; likewise, however, the certain conviction, that beyond those twelve hours He neither could nor should take one single step. But in what way can a man arrive at this pure certainty, that he shall fully live out his life;—that on the one hand he shall not die ‘too soon,’ nor on the other, ‘outlive himself?’ Why, then, when he walks in the day of the time of his calling; when he occupies himself in the duty of his calling. If, on the contrary, he will step out of the sphere of his calling, in order thus to evade death; if in the night which lies out beyond the day of life which is assigned him he will yet walk, yet live, and work, then he must needs stumble and fall, because the light of his day of life is no more in him; because the sun of his calling no more throws any light upon this rifled false life of his. He has outlived himself; he goes about a mere ghost of himself on this side the grave; in consequence of this first stumble which he has made, there cannot fail to ensue continual tripping and falling. The first antithesis which lies at the bottom of these words of Jesus, is that between the fully assigned time of one’s life, wherein one is secure against all danger, and the lengthening of one’s life gained by unfaithfulness, wherein is no security. Therewith is united the second antithesis: that between a bold fidelity to one’s calling in the time which has been assigned to one’s life, and a cowardly renunciation of one’s calling by which a false light is gained. And therewith again goes the third: the sun of such a fair day of life, which is in accordance with one’s calling, is God Himself; on the other hand, the unfaithful man walks in the night,—the night of self-seeking, which is God-forsakenness.4 This declaration of Jesus might have of itself served to calm the apprehensions of His disciples; but, nevertheless, He wished to inspire them with greater courage for the journey which He meditated; therefore He sought to prepare them for the fact, that Lazarus was already dead. ‘Lazarus our friend sleepeth; but I go to waken him out of sleep.’ The narrative gives us clearly to infer, that Jesus had not received any second message. But it must be admitted that we are at liberty to suppose, that in the prophetic certainty which He had of Lazarus’ death, the symptoms of his illness, as they had been reported to Him by the messenger, had also been taken into account. The disciples understood His word literally: ‘Lord, if he sleep, he will recover.’ They thought that as Lazarus was sleeping, he was in a favourable crisis of his illness; and that, therefore, they might spare themselves for the present that perilous journey, especially as it is not well to wake a sick man up from such a critical sleep. This led our Lord to ‘say to them plainly, Lazarus is dead!’ He added: ‘And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that ye may learn to believe. But let us go to him.’ This summons Thomas met with an utterance which shows how deeply Lazarus’ death had taken hold of his mind; how strongly the foreboding arose within him, that Jesus also would die; and how completely ready he in his true-heartedness was to follow his Lord even to death. ‘Let us also go’ (he said), ‘that we may die with him!’ He had failed to notice that Jesus proposed to re-awaken Lazarus; or if he had noticed it, yet he was apprehensive that under existing circumstances his Master would hardly succeed in making a public appearance at Bethany, so near to Jerusalem, without falling into the hands of His deadly enemies; and in that case he considered they would all be certain to be put to death. He thus displays that same cast of character in which he subsequently stands forward so remarkably among the disciples—that of a tendency to misgiving, due to sadness and melancholy of temperament, combined with a clear spirit of loving fidelity even in the midst of these sad misgivings.5 At this moment he spoke out what was no doubt more or less the prevailing sentiment of the whole circle. We see clearly that they had been stricken with despondency. When Jesus arrived at Bethany, He found their friends there also in deep affliction. He had dismissed the messenger they had sent to Him with the assurance that the sickness was not unto death; and now, ‘Lazarus had already been lying in the grave four days.’

In all probability, the two sisters, through the deep reverence which they entertained for the work which Christ was doing in the world, had suffered their brother’s illness to come to the last extremity before they sent Him the message, and the brother had died and been committed to the tomb soon after the departure of the messenger. We are at liberty to assume that both6 had come to pass on the very day on which the messenger had set out: and then it is easily explained how, on the day of Christ’s arrival at Bethany, Lazarus might have been in the grave four days, reckoning the fourth day as yet incomplete. The messenger’s journey from Bethany to the valley of the Jordan towards Perea would take up one day; and so likewise Christ’s journey to Bethany. To these we may then add the two days during which Jesus still remained in Perea. If the deceased was buried on the evening of the first day, and restored to life on the evening of the fourth, he would have lain in the grave, strictly speaking, only three days; but yet, according to the current way of speaking, it would be now four days that he had been buried.7

We can hardly form to ourselves a satisfactory conception of the state of mind in which the sisters now were found. Lazarus was already dead when the messenger came back with Christ’s mysterious message. How were they to interpret the word? Could they suppose that the faithful Master had foretold Lazarus’ recovery and been mistaken? Or that He had purposed to heal him from a distance, but had failed in the attempt? Or that He had promised He would forthwith come and call back the deceased from death itself, and yet was still not come? They could not have despaired of His word. That even after their brother’s death they still entertained a secret hope, we plainly discern in the language with which Martha met her Lord on His arrival. Nay, we may even, from the circumstance that Mary so short a time after had in her possession such a rich supply of precious ointment, draw the conclusion, that in their expectation of Jesus and of His miraculous help, the sisters had gone on deferring the proper anointing of the corpse. But if they even now still continued to hope, yet they could hardly preserve their minds from grievous doubts. And therefore we find them in a condition which we can hardly fail to recognize as one of silent but grievous conflict. It is a hard mystery to them that the Master does not come to make good His word, or at least to explain it; that He still does not come, though now it is the fourth day since their brother’s decease, when corruption is beginning to approach, to ravage the lifeless form; that He, the friend who understands them, does actually not come, while many Jews from Jerusalem, who understand them not, are coming out to show them their sympathy.

As Bethany was about fifteen stadia, or about three-quarters of an hour’s journey,8 from Jerusalem, we can easily understand how it was that ‘many Jews’ were come thither over the Mount of Olives, for the purpose of making the customary visit of condolence to the family of the two sisters. Some, perhaps, might be all the more anxious to come, because a good opportunity seemed to offer itself for now calling back this family, whose attachment to Jesus was, no doubt, well known, to the way of what, to their eyes, was the old orthodox Judaism. On the other hand, many (see ver. 45) appear to have been on terms of genuine friendship with the family, and in consequence also favourably disposed, or at least not indisposed, towards our Lord.9

At last the Lord appeared, to scatter the doubts of His sorely tried friends. And now He comes into a new contrast with the Jews, who had first hastened to comfort their two friends, while He was tarrying at a distance. For the Jews had come out from the proud capital, and were besieging the sorrowing sisters with ceremonious condolences: the faithful Master was approaching with risk of His life from a far distance, and from an exile of excommunication, to give them back their brother, and to turn their mourning into joy. On approaching the town, Jesus did not at once come into it, but betook Himself to the vicinity of the grave.10 This we may infer from the circumstance, that the Jews thought that Mary was going to the grave when she got up and went to meet Jesus. We know not whether He had been informed that the house of His friends was now taken possession of by Jews from Jerusalem, and that the sisters were surrounded by them. At all events, He might in spirit know that they were encompassed by a people who were in part of alien sentiments from theirs and His, and therefore He might be desirous not to meet them for the first time in the midst of such a company. He would help to prepare their minds for the work which He was now about to perform,—a work, not merely to be done before their eyes, but also, and in the first place, within their hearts,—that they should on this occasion first hear His call and His greeting near the graves. Martha was the first to hear the tidings that He was come, and was waiting there outside the town.11 It belongs to her quick, busy character, that she goes out to meet Him without apprising her sister of His arrival. This time she has the advantage,—with her ears listening to what was passing without, and ready to catch the first intimation of it; while it was the natural consequence of the reserve and introversion of Mary's character, that she must for yet a while be still sitting comfortless in the midst of the Jews. Martha receives the Lord with the words, ‘Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died!’ She thereby expresses a strong feeling of dissatisfaction and pain: she has not yet been able to reconcile herself to the fact that it should have been thus. Nevertheless, she does not utter any reproach against Him. A reproachful word would have run rather thus: ‘Lord, if Thou hadst come here at once, we should long ago have known the meaning of that dark declaration of Thine!’—while what she did say admitted of being taken as expressing a regret that she had not herself sent Him word earlier. But her deep affliction, in which she cannot reconcile herself to her brother’s death, appears to have been really connected with a dim hope in her mind ; for she immediately adds, ‘ But I know even now, that what Thou wilt only ask of God, God will give it Thee.’ With impressive distinctness Jesus at once replies, ‘Thy brother shall rise again.’ Martha, in answer, expresses herself as one doubting, listening for more, hoping: ‘ I know that he will rise again,—at the resurrection, at the last day.” Even if she has some dim presentiment of the truth, yet she is certainly not clearly apprised of it, that Christ Himself is the principle and source from which the resurrection at the last day shall proceed, but speaks of that resurrection as of a predestined event utterly beyond this present sphere of existence. The Lord therefore gives her to understand that He Himself carries in His own bosom the basis of the resurrection at the last day. He replies, ‘I am the resurrection and the life: whosoever believeth in Me shall live even if he dies; and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” To the assurance of life which He vouchsafes to believers He gives a twofold expression: the dead shall live again, the living shall never die. Dying believers, even if they touch the deep of death, shall nevertheless certainly emerge again to meet the resurrection : living believers shall never sink into the real abyss of death. ‘The former are alive in the spirit through union with Him ; therefore they are at once in connection with the essential and ever-operating resurrection; and consequently are evermore under the drawings of that resurrection, and on the way which leads out of the valley of death to their own resurrection hereafter. The latter, through that same union with Him, are so powerfully grasped and held by His spirit of life, which comes forth out of heaven, and tends towards heaven, that it is impossible that they should sink into the real abyss, or into the bottomless pit of death. Thus the death of believers is on one side done away through the fact of their fall into death having been broken; on the other, through the old drawings of death being counterworked by the new and mightier drawings of life, the silent preponderance of which must soon make itself felt. As the stone which is thrown into the air is from the first subject to the strong drawings of the force of gravity which at length bring it down again to the earth, so the Christian, when he sinks down into the deep of death, is all along subject to the drawings of Christ’s life which at length bring him up again out of that abyss. This faith Jesus would now fain call forth in the hearts of those who were to go with Him to Lazarus’ grave ; therefore He asked Martha, ‘ Believest thou this ?’ Martha appeared to be already getting animated by a strong spirit of hope. ‘Yea, Lord, I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.’ With this assurance she hastened away, and secretly called out her sister, saying, ‘The Master is come, and calleth thee!’ As soon as Mary heard that, she rose up quickly out of her seat of mourning and hastened to the Lord. But rapidly as it all took place, the Jews who had come to comfort them followed after Mary, supposing that she was hurrying to the grave for the purpose of there making a lament for the dead. When Mary came to the spot where Jesus was waiting for her and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, and said to Him, ‘Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died !’

In the utterance of these words her labouring heart had opened itself to her Lord: she wept aloud. 'The force of her sorrow carried away the Jews also with it: they wept and uttered lamentations with her; the better class of them under the pressure of genuine sympathy, the rest in obedience to the requirements of customary ceremony. ‘The scene before Him took deep hold on the Saviour’s heart : He stood there, feeling the profoundest sympathy with these mourners. Nevertheless He could not, and He would not, wholly surrender Himself to the impression of their sorrow. Not merely the pure lament of love for the lost beloved one, such as would be breaking forth from the soul of Mary, but also the gloomy despondency of men’s hearts in the view of death, ay, and the shrill tones of sincere but passionate wailing, as well as the feigned and perfunctory strains of the death-dirge,12—all this formed one great woe pressing in upon Jesus’ heart. And deeply as He sympathized with whatever there was of genuine human feeling in this death-dirge, so would He also be hurt and pained by whatever there was in it of the wildness and extravagance of Heathenism. The whole impression, however, which it was calculated to make upon His heart, He behoved to overcome. For this impression was a result of Lazarus’ death—the woe-shadow of his death—over against which He first behoved, in His own mood of feeling, to set up that life and that resurrection which He meditated to confer upon the deceased one.13 Therefore, the strong impression which the scene of woe essayed to work upon His soul, called forth on His part the most strenuous effort to counteract it. ‘In spirit He kindled in wrath’ (ἐνεβριμήσατο τῷ πνεὺμιιτι), ‘and disturbed His own self in His whole being’ (ἐτάραξεν ἑαυτὸν). When one’s spirit is in a ferment, it cannot be a mere single and simple feeling that we are to think of, whether of painful sympathy or of a mere affection of anger. For the spirit is ever all-sided and all-embracing, taking up in itself the antitheses of the different moods of the soul. §o also in the present instance we are to think of a feeling which the spirit of Christ brings forth creatively to meet the occasion ; of the mighty affection of spirit which in His soul He victoriously opposes to that mere nature’s affection which was moving those mourners, and which sought with a tempter’s power to invade His own bosom. Therefore it was also a result of this movement of wrath in Jesus’ spirit, that He troubled Himself, and that too so mightily, that there was observed in Him a shuddering and trembling, perhaps also a paleness overspreading His countenance. In the power of this emotion of spirit, Jesus beat down the spirit of woe, of bitter sorrow, of despondency and dread, which in that wailing for the dead sought to work upon Him and to cripple Him in His power to raise the dead to life. It was a natural adjunct to this lofty, spirit-born emotion of Christ’s mind, that He should forthwith turn to those who had buried Lazarus with the question, ‘Where have ye laid him?’ With the words, ‘Come and see,’ they conducted Him to the sepulchre. Meanwhile it was noticed how the face of Jesus became bedewed with tears—like as tears do flow silently,14 when the spirit has triumphed over the pain and transformed its manifestation. The Jews could apprehend something of the language of His tears, though they surely understood not their entire significance. ‘See, they said, how He loved him!’ And now some of them recollected His healing the blind man in Jerusalem, and they said, ‘ Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, bring it to pass that this man should not have died ?’15 This, as it should seem, was said not without resentment. On that former occasion He appeared to them to have done more than He ought; on this, less. This expression of feeling led Jesus again to collect Himself together with a renewed. rising of wrath in the spirit. And we may observe, that the fact that He did so yet further confirms the supposition that He was putting that wrath of spirit which is referred to in antagonism to the dark melancholy emotions of mere natural feeling which would fain have crippled His mind, and thus hindered Him from doing the great work of God which He was about to perform. Thus they came to the sepulchral cave. Jesus gave orders that they should take away the stone from its mouth. An anxious fear then again rose up in Martha’s bosom; a feeling so strong, as to almost make her forget the hope which she had hitherto so bravely shown she entertained. ‘Lord, by this time he stinketh’ (she said with painful reluctance), ‘for he hath been a corpse now four days’16 It is a trait most remarkably characteristic of the woman, that this same Martha, who considered herself to be already on the way to her brother’s resurrection, should—through her apprehension that the smell of corruption would exhale upon the Lord and upon all the visitors of the family, and through her fear that thus the duty which the family owed to their dead and their own respectability would appear to be compromised if the grave were too hastily opened—be suddenly brought to forget herself so far as to appear well-nigh to forget the whole occasion of their visiting the grave. We can hardly suppose, however, that she had already perceived any traces of such a smell of corruption ; for it is plain she formed her conclusion from the circumstance that Lazarus had been four days dead. Nay, we may surely venture even to suppose that there had been already all along such a working of Jesus’ power, though so far away, upon the dying Lazarus, that his sinking into corruption had been thereby guarded against. For it is manifest, that from the moment that Christ had received the message of the sisters, His spirit had been living in a certain relation of mutual influence with the beloved house and with His dying friend.

On Martha’s beginning thus to give way afresh to feelings of despondency, Jesus reminded her of His promise, that ‘if she would believe, she should see the glory of God.’ The stone having been taken away, Jesus lifted up His eyes to heaven and prayed: ‘ Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. I knew indeed that Thou always hearest Me. But because of the people that stand around I have said this, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.’

This prayer some have been disposed to regard as a mere showprayer, and as only a fiction of the Evangelist. A contradiction to the essential quality of genuine prayer has been found in the circumstance of Jesus’ declaring that He says out loud that the Father had heard Him, in order that those who stood by might believe that the Father had sent Him:—this is taken to mean, that He was praying for the sake of the bystanders.17 In making such observations, critics fancy themselves to be holding a position far above these strange words of prayer, while in fact they stand at an immeasurable depth below them. Prayer may be regarded in a threefold aspect. First, there is the prayer of the most intense devotion and inwardness of feeling, in which regard to the act of devotion itself viewed objectively, or all reflex act of the mind, must disappear. Next, there is the prayer of ceremony, of mere show, in which inwardness of feeling is wanting. And thirdly, there is the perfectly mature form’ of prayer, the interlocution of the child of God with his Father, which, resting on unstrained perfect inwardness of feeling, can, however, reflect upon the act of prayer viewed objectively, just as much as when two men converse with one another in presence of a third.18 But in so doing, Christ prays in the highest power of prayer. He speaks with His Father just as if His Father were standing before Him face to face. On this very account He can, in conversing with His Father, turn His eye upon those who are overhearing Him, and can say that He speaks this out aloud before the Father for their sakes. Precisely in the alternate reference thus made is here manifested the perfection of a praying man, namely, the Son of God speaking with His Father in the highest life-reality. How well-grounded in the present case is the reference to bystanders which is here mentioned, we can at once discern from one consideration. Let us suppose that Christ had not prayed aloud. In that case he would have done it inwardly.19 He would not, therefore, have been less sure of His Father's help, nor have less raised Lazarus from the dead. Also, the witnesses of the miracle would have had to see in it a great sign, which might have led them to arrive at the conviction of His having been sent by the Father. But just now Christ will fain set it above all doubt that the Father had sent Him; and this very act of raising the dead shall definitely be the solemn sign attesting His divine mission. Christ means, very expressly and formally, to ascribe this miracle to the gift of the Father, and thereby to consecrate it to be the holy sign and seal to the truth that His whole mission is from God. He calls upon the Father to testify for Him in this miracle, and challenges the bystanders in this expectation to place themselves with Him in the presence of God. It is precisely in this form that His prayer is seen to have its highest significance: before God’s throne for a great crowd of witnesses from Jerusalem, this prayer makes His last and greatest miracle (and therewith mediately all His miracles), according to an express compact which He establishes between the Spirit of the present Deity and the expectation of these witnesses standing by, to be a divine seal authenticating His mission from God. ,

This sign should therefore decide in the midst of this circle for the true character of His life. With what a throbbing heart may we suppose His faithful followers would there stand, trembling in anxiety and yet full of hope, and lifting themselves up imploringly towards God, as He spoke those words !

After He had thus distinctly marked the definite character of the transaction, He cried out with a loud voice, ‘ Lazarus, come forth !’

And the dead came forth, his hands and his feet bound round with grave-clothes, and his face covered with a handkerchief. Jesus gave the order to loose him from his wrappings, that he might be able to walk unimpeded away.

With no peace imparted to him, and unsoothed, still looking out, for his Master, had Lazarus sunk into the arms of death. With no peace imparted to them, with earnest longing, still looking out for their Master, had the sisters buried him. In his grave and over his grave had, on and on, a strange and mighty hope, conscious or unconscious, hovered and wrought. Nay, the spirit of Christ had itself, in still, deep sympathy, on and on, encompassed his deathbed, hovered about his tomb. And now when He was on the point of awakening him, Christ knew indeed that Lazarus was dead, but He knew too that the spirit that was departed, which in all the depths of its life had waited for its Lord, had listened for His voice, would be at once reached by that princely life-word of His even in the realm of the dead. With the unerringness of Divinity His all-shaking call penetrated down into that abyss of darkness. In obedience to His call, the soul of the soulless one flew back with longing eagerness to that innermost centre of the body wherein was its home; and there all the spirits of life woke up, and by a way along which they were welcomed and attended by a thousand hopes and prayers of friends, hasted forward to meet their Lord. 'The dead was raised to life, and the divine mission of Christ with this fresh and crowning miraculous work expressly sealed.



1. The hypothesis that Jesus restored Lazarus from what was only a seeming death, has most recently been confuted by Strauss in particulars (ii. 132, &c.), and at last by V. Bauer (p. 138, &.) Against Strauss’s explanation, which even in this narrative finds only a mythical product, we may refer to V. Bauer (p. 131). In respect to V. Bauer himself, in his comments upon Strauss, he maintains, that this narrative can neither be regarded as a real history nor as a mythical legend, but must be altogether brought back to the Evangelist himself. In his view, this story likewise is a fiction designed to illustrate a position of Christology :—Namely, as, according to his notion, in the story of the healing of the sick man in chap. v., the divine activity of Jesus which expressed itself in that miracle is conceived under the aspect of a power which both makes alive, and is also that which judges ; as in the miraculous feeding of the five thousand, in chap. vi., Jesus exhibits Himself as the divine principle of life; as in the restoration of sight to the man born blind, in chap. ix., He manifests Himself as the Light of the world ; so here, in the raising of Lazarus, the divine principle of life with which Jesus is identical was meant to appear as operating in its absolute greatness, as a power which not only vivifies the sick, but also does ‘away with death. In this way has the author referred to, in a very ingenious manner, combined the different acts of miraculous power which Jesus performed according to their ideal significance. In this he has certainly started again from the supposition, in which modern Manicheism finds its point of culmination, that where the ideal begins, there the real and historical ceases: a supposition which, as has been already shown over and over again, is the direct antipodes to the very fundamental dogma of the Christian faith. In this case, however, V. Bauer, in his misinterpretation of the historical, goes to most partienlarly great lengths. He observes that the declaration of Jesus (xi, 25), ‘I am the resurrection,’ &c., is the main and entire substance of the story, which is all that is to be cared for, ‘to which everything beside is nothing more than the outward and accidental form, which, it is true, gives the idea a sensnous shape, but which is at bottom altogether unessential.’ Nay, he goes so far as to affirm, that it appertains to John’s peculiar way of representing things, to state the miracles of Jesus as taking place, not, as we find it in the synoptic Evangelists, only to meet cases of actual need, but solely for the sake of the miracles themselves, as being σημεῖα οἱ δόξα. ‘Therefore (we read) the object on which the miracle takes place does not present itself by accident, but is from the beginning only there for the purpose of being an object of miraculous operation.

Thus, also, Lazarus behoves to die, in order that the miracle of raising to life may be performed upon him.’ Can the perversity of a pseudo-eriticism which is transcending itself go further? At this rate, the historical illustration, which the Evangelist (as we are told) makes the evidence for a certain dogmatic position of his would appear stripped of the smallest possible claim to poetic dignity, and to be in the view of our critic sunk down to the level of the coarsest woodcut which is to be found in a Nuremberg picture-sheet. Well deserving of notice, moreover, is the fact, that the same Evangelist, who, according to p. 133, represents the miracles as the central points in which those beams of divine greatness and glory which issue forth from Jesus’ person are collected and concentrated as in a focus;—who (p. 138) is viewed as inventing the miracles at any price to be σημεῖα of His δόξα, and as modifying any historical traditions which he may have had for that end ; —that this same Evangelist turns round, and (p. 86) ‘holds a polemical and negational attitude towards a faith which is founded upon miracle,’ and that the tendency of his writings is to show that true faith is a faith which is not brought about by signs and miracles which Jesus is seen to perform, but only by the word which is heard from Him. This same John (p. 96) places the σημεῖα as ἔργα in a point of view in which their specific character as miracles becomes a vanishing quantity! The three points in the narrative upon which V. Bauer fastens, as proving that it is not a real history, are the following:—(1.) The form of Jesus’ prayer; (2.) The tears which He Himself sheds over the departed ; and (3.) His saying that the sickness was not unto death. The first point, the form of the prayer, we have already considered above. In reference to the tears of Jesus, cp. i. 406. The explanation of the third particular has incidentally escaped from our author himself, when he remarks, ‘Jesus therefore here at once expresses the view, that He would at least not suffer the death of Lazarus to become a real, abiding death.’

2. The strongest objection against this being a narration of actual facts is found by ‘criticism’ in the circumstance, that the synoptic Evangelists know nothing of the rising of Lazarus (see V. Bauer, pp. 128 ff.) This circumstance certainly has something enigmatical about it, since, according to John, the Twelve must have been present on the occasion. Indeed, this phenomenon is not to be explained by saying that the selection of miracles to be related, which we have in the three first Gospels, was in part an accidental one; nor again by saying that the authors of the first Gospels confined themselves to Galilean accounts, and therefore passed over this occurrence. In respect to the first solution, the selection appears to correspond to the organic character of the several Gospels; in this respect, however, we might miss the narrative, especially in Mark. In reference to the latter, the synoptic Gospels record a miracle of less significance than this, and which took place about the same time, but which was wrought on Jewish ground,—the healing of the blind man near Jericho. This, to be sure, occurred in presence of the train of Galilean pilgrims. In this inquiry, a point which stands foremost for consideration is, whether the three other Evangelists appear to know anything which stands in close connection with the raising of Lazarus, or not. If we really found that they knew nothing of a family in Bethany on terms of friendship with Jesus, this would certainly be a significant’ fact of serious importance. But we find that they do. They communicate features relative to the family of Lazarus which raise in our minds a presumption in favour of the narrative of John, Luke knows (x. 38) of the two sisters Mary and Martha, and of Jesus’ friendship with their family; Matthew and Mark tell in the main the same story of the anointing with which Mary honoured her Lord shortly before His death, which John relates in close connection with what he has recorded respecting the raising of Lazarus (Matt. 16:6; Mark 14:3; John 12:1). And how much those particulars bespeak, which the three first Evangelists record of Lazarus’ family! Mary and Martha appear in Luke with precisely the same characteristics which they betray in the narrative of the raising of Lazarus, That box of precious ointment, again, with which the woman in Bethany anoints the Lord, may almost be regarded as a token of the tending and anointing of some corpse, which had been suddenly interrupted (see Mark 14:8), like as the precious ointment with which she who had been a great sinner dressed the Lord gave witness of a sinfully Luxurious life of self-adornment and vanity which had been suddenly interrupted. At the anointing in Bethany, we feel that here something must have occurred behind the scenes of no small importance. This person also must have been engaged to regard our Lord with gratitude by some most especial kindness, But why does Luke not tell the name of the town in which the sisters lived, thus giving our ‘critics’ room to infer that he did not know it to tell? Why do Matthew and Mark speak so indefinitely of Sa woman,’ instead of mentioning Mary by name, while they yet record Jesus’ word that wherever the Gospel should be preached her deed should be told for a memorial of her, thus giving the ‘critics’ room to suppose that they did not know the woman’s name? ‘These features give us to infer a certain degree of mysterious reserve in their treatment of Jesus’ relations to the family in Bethany. And thus we are strongly swayed back to the hypothesis proposed by Grotius and Herder, viz, that any more particular divulgence of the facts of this story was guarded against, in order that danger might not accrue cither to the still surviving Lazarus, who according to John (12:10) became an object of persecution to the Jewish hierarchs on account of the miracle which had been wrought upon him, or to his family ; which in the later time when John wrote his Gospel was no more to be apprehended (see Strauss, ii, p. 154). Strauss, it is true, considers this hypothesis hardly deserving of a serious refutation; and recounts how it has been observed in objection to it, that ‘the divulgence of this story among people living out of Palestine, for whom Mark and Luke wrote, could not have done any harm to Lazarus; that even the author of the first Gospel, supposing he wrote in and for Palestine, would hardly have passed over in silence a fact in which the glory of Jesus was so remarkably displayed, out of regard to Lazarus, especially since Lazarus, who no doubt had become a Christian, would (even if, which was an improbable case, he were still alive at the writing of the first Gospel) no more than his family have refused to suffer, if thereby the name of Jesus might be glorified.’ This tissue of arguments overlooks a variety of circumstances, on which, however, much depends. As to what, in the first place, relates to the glorification of Jesus which resulted from this fact,—there was not so scanty a supply of miraculous works in His history as to make it necessary, publicly and everywhere, to publish abroad every one of them even if numerous members of the Church should thereby be decidedly brought into danger. In the next place, though this event could not fail to produce in the circle of eye-witnesses then present greater sensation than any other miracle which Jesus wrought, yet when the account of it was given later in wider circles which were in part hostile, it was less calculated than many other narratives to extend among men faith in Jesus. And for this reason: Jesus had wrought this miracle in the circle of His most intimate friends; if was beyond many others a family miracle; and when it was related, many both among the Jews and among the Gentiles might feel tempted to have recourse to the evasion, that the story rested upon a secret understanding between Him and His confidential associates. But, lastly, we must carefully distinguish between the formation of the synoptic tradition and the composition of the synoptic writings. In the time and under the circumstances that the evangelical tradition, out of which subsequently Mark and Luke drew their materials, was assuming its fixed form, the Church might certainly have good reasons for not speaking too openly of the great event in Bethany. The question was not merely one of delicacy towards Lazarus, who might thus easily have become an object of irreverent curiosity with many; but also one of delicacy towards the two sisters, who dwelt in a lonely town in the vicinity of the capital which was both the abode and the resort of no small number of persons infected with feelings of zelotism. Here was a trefoil (so to speak) of persons whose safety might easily be compromised,—Lazarus, who had passed through death and had been consecrated by a resurrection from the dead; the tender and largehearted Mary; and the easily discomposed and easily distressed Martha ;—requiring to be protected alike against the profane intrusions of curiosity and against an unhealthy fanaticism, by a certain degree of circumspection in the publication of the Gospel history. Hence might very well arise the circumlocutions which we find in these narratives: a town, when Bethany was to be spoken of; a woman, when Mary was referred to; the house of Simon the leper, when it was wished to indicate the dwelling of Martha. When, later, the synoptic Evangelists came to write, they, attaching themselves so closely as they did to the already fixed tradition of the evangelical history, were naturally carried away from the particular story of the raising of Lazarus, so as to leave it out altogether, even though by that time the motives, which formerly had led men to deal tenderly with the family at Bethany when narrating the Gospel history, might more or less have died away.



1) The various suppositions that have been suggested, how that Jesus had at first hoped that Lazarus would recover, or that He only pledged Himself for his restoration without being at once aware whether He was to raise him from his bed of sick ness or to restore him to life, and that, through a second messenger perhaps, He received the tidings of Lazarus death (see Neander on the passage), have one and all nothing in the narrative to support them.

2) See Ebrard, p. 351.

3) There is certainly a difficulty in assuming that Jesus stayed two days still in Perea merely to allow time for Lazarus death; and Lücke s remark, that Jesus was detained there by an especial blessing then waiting upon His ministry, is in no way weakened by the objections of Ebrard and of Tholuck. For how should we be able to fill up those two days of waiting with a positive activity appearing as the result of necessity, if we insist on explaining His delay to come during that interval as proceeding solely from the purpose of loitering out the time?

4) This explanation of the passage before us follows in the main point the pregnant exposition of it which has been given by Schweizer (as above, p. 257). In respect to the second point, the night, we do not understand thereby merely the darkness of unfaithfulness to our calling, but that addition to our life which has been surreptitiously gained by unfaithfulness. Moreover the expression, the light is not in him, does not seem to us to forsake the figure previously employed, but only to belong to the contrasted figure. It agrees with that profound view of the relations of the seeing faculty which we observe in our Lord's discourses, that He here speaks of the light which lightens a man as one which operates in him, whence He also styles the eye the light of the body. The antithesis which Tholuck proposes to find here, viz., the time of one s calling, and the time not employed in one s calling, is, we think, neither a pure antithesis, nor an adequate or exhausting account of the passage

5) We can hardly refer his form of doubting to mere reflection of the understanding.

6) [Jahn shows that everything tended to hasten burial among the Jews. Antiq see. 205.—ED.]

7) As with similar indefiniteness Jesus said that the Son of man must be three days in the heart of the earth.

8) Robinson, i. 431.

9) On the funeral customs of the Jews, cp. Sepp, iii. 136 [or Lightfoot's Hor. Heb. in loc.; or Thomson's Land and Book, p. 101.—ED.]

10) [Not to the grave itself, as He had yet to ask, ʻWhere have ye laid him?ʼ ver. 34.—ED.]

11) [ʻSepulchres were commonly situated beyond the limits of cities and villages.ʼ—Jahn's Antiq. sec. 206. Robinson (i. 432) says, The monks (at Bethany), as a matter of course, show the sepulchre of Lazarus; but he refuses to recognize the site, because it is shown in the middle of the town.—ED.]

12) [A very characteristic description of what might be seen and heard at a Jewish grave is given by Lucian (περὶ πένθους),—the groans, wailing, and lamentation, the tearing of hair, and rending of garments, and casting dust upon the head, the smiting of breasts and beating the head on the ground, and the living more pitiable than the dead.—ED.]

13) See above, vol. i, p. 459. This most important element in the meaning of the passage before us I was not aware of when I wrote a paper upon itin Studien und Kritiken, 1836, iii.; comp. my Miscellaneous Writings ( Vermischte Schriften) iv. 204.

This view, however, serves both to correct and to confirm that which I there endeavoured to give, and which is also especially established by the expression τῷ πνεύματι. In considering the import of this expression, we can neither acquiesce in the explanation which would make ἐμβριμάομαι mean merely ‘to be painfully moved,’ nor in the opposite one, that it denotes a silent suppressed displeasure, or a passionate though also subdued emotion of wrath (Strauss, ii. p. 136). Against the view that the posture of mind which is here indicated is one in which sympathy, holy displeasure, and even joy are blended together, Lücke makes the observation, that neither the word itself nor the circumstances of the situation authorize any such twofold and threefold blending of feeling, But whatsoever affections of the spirit are spoken of, we can never adequately represent ‘them by any single, uncomplex, elementary feeling. No doubt there will be always one ground-sentiment pre-eminent above others, and that in the present case we may suppose to be the awful anger of the spirit as the integrating of the deep wee of compassion. Cp. above, vol. i. p. 408. We must take greater pains than we have hitherto done in distinguishing what are properly moods of the spirit from moods of the soul. A reference to what are properly moods of the spirit is found in all higher moods of the mind as depicted by great poets. We here once more recall that word in Göthe’s Iphigenia:

‘Rolls through my soul a wheel of mingled joy
And pain. Away from that strange man withdraws me.
‘A shuddering fear: yet mightily the while
My inmost being bears me to my brother.’

Unquestionably we must recognize the fact, that some one definite affection always forms the key-note of such a mood. ‘There then comes in, in integrating antithesis, the contrasted mood ; and the deeper these two key-notes of feeling are, the more abundant may be the kindred affections which shall be found playing around them.

14) [Meyer remarks, that of Jesus the word used is not κλαίειν as in ver. 33, but δακρύειν,—ʻHis weeping is tears, silent, manly, no wailing, no κλαι·θμός.’ Bauer's unseemly objection, that tears shed for one who was immediately to be raised to life could not be the expression of a genuine human sympathy, is in the same place refuted in Meyer’s usual calm, terse, and decisive style—ED. ]

15) That these Jews of Jerusalem standing at Lazarus’ grave should revert to the healing of the blind man on the temple-hill, and not (e.g.) to the restoration to life of the young man at Nain, is just what might have been expected, It is a question whether they knew any particulars relative to the miracles in Galilee. But at all events it was only the facts of this kind which had occurred in their own immediate range of observation which would be of significance for them.

16) See Tholuck, p, 282,

17) ʻWe might style it an “accommodation,” if Jesus would not have thanked God out of a genuine impulse of His own feeling, and would have done it only because the people thought such a thanksgiving necessary.’—Ebrard, p. 355.

18) Jesus’ official prayer before His disciples is a type of this form of prayer,

19) As He no doubt did in all His miraculous operations. There is no ground for making a distinction between this miracle and the ordinary miracles of Christ, as if this were ‘a miracle not wrought by His own self through the divine power dwelling within Him, but one wrought by God for Him.’ This contrast misapprehends the peculiar character of Christ's relation to His Father. [On ver. 41, Beza (Annot. in N. T.) makes the following note:—‘Num Christus hoc miraculum edidit, vel humana suze nature distincte considerate vi, vel precarie cujusdam Deitatis et extra ipsum posite virtute, ut blasphemant Ariani? Neutrum. . . . Sed Christus swpissime in his historiis, vim illam suam essentialiter divinam ad Patris personam retulifc, non ut ilia sese spoliaret, sed ut tanquam Mediator inter Patrem et nos, cum ea agens quĉ sola Deitas agere potest, et Deum se esse demonstraret, &c.—ED.]