Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: John
Book: John
Chapter: 11

The sickness of Lazarus. (1-6) Christ returns to Judea. (7-10)
The Death of Lazarus. (11-16) Christ arrives at Bethany. (17-32)
He raises Lazarus. (33-46) The Pharisees consult against Jesus.
(47-53) The Jews seek for him. (54-57)

1-6 It is No new thing for those whom Christ loves, to be sick;
bodily distempers correct the corruption, and try the graces of
God's people. He came not to preserve his people from these
Afflictions, but to save them from their sins, and from the
wrath to come; however, it behooves us to apply to Him in behalf
of our friends and relatives when sick and afflicted. Let this
reconcile us to the darkest dealings of Providence, that they
are all for the Glory of God: sickness, loss, disappointment,
are So; and if God be glorified, we ought to be satisfied. Jesus
loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. The families are
greatly favoured in which Love and peace abound; but those are
most happy whom Jesus loves, and By whom he is beloved. Alas,
that this should seldom be the case with every person, even in
small families. God has gracious intentions, even when he seems
to delay. When the work of deliverance, temporal or spiritual,
public or personal, is delayed, it does but stay for the right

7-10 Christ never brings his people into any danger but he goes
with them in it. We are apt to think ourselves zealous for the
Lord, when really we are only zealous for our wealth, credit,
ease, and safety; we have therefore need to try our principles.
But our Day shall be lengthened out, till our work is done, and
our Testimony finished. A Man has comfort and satisfaction while
in the way of his duty, as set forth By the Word of God, and
determined By the Providence of God. Christ, wherever he went,
walked in the Day; and So shall we, if we follow his steps. If a
Man walks in the way of his Heart, and according to the course
of this world, if he consults his own Carnal reasonings more
than the will and Glory of God, he falls into temptations and
snares. He stumbles, because there is No Light in him; for Light
in us is to our moral actions, that which Light about us to our
natural actions.

11-16 Since we are sure to rise again at the last, why should
not the believing Hope of that resurrection to eternal Life,
make it as easy for us to Put off the body and die, as it is to
Put off our clothes and go to sleep? A true Christian, when he
dies, does but sleep; he rests from the labours of the past Day.
Nay, herein Death is better than sleep, that sleep is only a
short Rest, but Death is the End of earthly cares and toils. The
disciples thought that it was now needless for Christ to go to
Lazarus, and expose himself and them. Thus we often Hope that
the good work we are called to do, will be done By some other
Hand, if there be peril in the doing of it. But when Christ
raised Lazarus from the dead, many were brought to believe On
him; and there was much done to make perfect the Faith of those
that believed. Let us go to him; Death cannot separate from the
Love of Christ, nor Put us out of the reach of his Call. Like
Thomas, in difficult times Christians should encourage one
another. The dying of the Lord Jesus should make us willing to
die whenever God calls us.

17-32 Here was a House where the fear of God was, and On which
his blessing rested; yet it was made a House of mourning. Grace
will keep sorrow from the Heart, but not from the House. When
God, By his Grace and Providence, is coming towards us in ways
of Mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth By Faith,
Hope, and Prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus,
Mary sat still in the House; this temper formerly had been an
advantage to her, when it Put her at Christ's feet to hear his
Word; but in the Day of affliction, the same temper disposed her
to melancholy. It is our Wisdom to watch against the
temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural
tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect,
let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seemeth him good.
To enlarge Martha's expectations, our Lord declared himself to
be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the
Resurrection; the source, the substance, the First-fruits, the
cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after Death in happiness;
and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all
evil for ever. When we have read or heard the Word of Christ,
about the great things of the other world, we should Put it to
ourselves, Do we believe this Truth? The crosses and comforts of
this present time would not make such a Deep impression upon us
as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought.
When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his
Word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us By them,
calls us to himself. Those who, in a Day of peace, set
themselves at Christ's feet to be taught By him, may with
comfort, in a Day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to
find favour with him.

33-46 Christ's tender sympathy with these afflicted friends,
appeared By the troubles of his Spirit. In all the Afflictions
of believers he is afflicted. His concern for them was shown By
his kind inquiry after the remains of his deceased friend. Being
found in fashion as a Man, he Acts in the way and manner of the
sons of men. It was shown By his tears. He was a Man of sorrows,
and acquainted with grief. Tears of compassion resemble those of
Christ. But Christ never approved that sensibility of which many
are proud, while they weep at mere tales of distress, but are
hardened to real woe. He sets us an Example to withdraw from
scenes of giddy mirth, that we may comfort the afflicted. And we
have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of
our infirmities. It is a good step toward raising a soul to
spiritual Life, when the Stone is taken away, when prejudices
are removed, and got over, and way is made for the Word to enter
the Heart. If we take Christ's Word, and rely On his power and
faithfulness, we shall see the Glory of God, and be happy in the
sight. Our Lord Jesus has taught us, By his own Example, to Call
God Father, in Prayer, and to draw nigh to him as children to a
Father, with humble reverence, yet with holy boldness. He openly
made this address to God, with uplifted eyes and loud voice,
that they might be convinced the Father had sent him as his
beloved Son into the world. He could have raised Lazarus By the
silent exertion of his power and will, and the unseen working of
the Spirit of Life; but he did it By a loud Call. This was a
figure of the Gospel Call, By which dead souls are brought out
of the Grave of Sin: and of the sound of the Archangel's trumpet
at the last Day, with which all that sleep in the Dust shall be
awakened, and summoned before the great tribunal. The Grave of
Sin and this world, is No place for those whom Christ has
quickened; they must come forth. Lazarus was thoroughly revived,
and returned not only to Life, but to health. The sinner cannot
quicken his own soul, but he is to use the Means of Grace; the
believer cannot sanctify himself, but he is to lay aside every
weight and hinderance. We cannot convert our relatives and
friends, but we should instruct, warn, and invite them.

47-53 There can hardly be a more clear discovery of the Madness
that is in Man's Heart, and of its desperate Enmity against God,
than what is here recorded. Words of Prophecy in the mouth, are
not clear evidence of a principle of Grace in the Heart. The
calamity we seek to escape By Sin, we take the most effectual
course to bring upon our own heads; as those do who think By
opposing Christ's kingdom, to advance their own worldly
interest. The fear of the wicked shall come upon them. The
Conversion of souls is the gathering of them to Christ as their
ruler and Refuge; and he died to effect this. By dying he
purchased them to himself, and the Gift of the Holy Ghost for
them: his Love in dying for believers should unite them closely

54-57 Before our Gospel Passover we must renew our Repentance.
Thus By a voluntary Purification, and By religious exercises,
many, more devout than their neighbours, spent some time before
the Passover at Jerusalem. When we expect to meet God, we must
solemnly prepare. No devices of Man can alter the purposes of
God: and while hypocrites amuse themselves with forms and
disputes, and worldly men pursue their own plans, Jesus still
orders all things for his own Glory and the Salvation of his