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cause of this indignation would be sin and its instigator the devil, through whom death entered into the world.
Jesus was the perfect man, and therefore the perfect friend. No man with large sympathies can be indifferent to human sorrow. Sorrow was there present to Jesus, a sorrow that sin brought into the world. May we not believe that there came into the mind of Jesus a more vivid realization of the sin and sorrow of the world? How often that same sad history which he there saw would repeat itself? and how often it would be the sorrow of them who have no hope? He was to redeem the world, but all would not accept his redemption. Jesus saw all human history with its sins and sin's sad consequences. His infinite comprehension of human life revealed many sadder events than the death of Lazarus.
Jesus asks where Lazarus is laid merely as an expression of his wish to be led to the dead man's tomb. They lead him to the tomb, and on the way Jesus is seen to weep. The Jews note this; and they take it as an evidence of Jesus' great love of Lazarus. Then they express surprise that the great Prophet who a few days before had opened the eyes of a man that was blind, could not have saved the life of a friend whom he so greatly loved. They do not speak of the raising of the dead man, as that was a miracle too great to be thought of.
We see in the Jews' discussion of this theme an evidence of how ill-fitted we are to judge the ways of God. We can not see the reasons of many things, because we can not enter into the infinite world of divine wisdom which is back of all the acts of God. We are short-sighted, and we judge by the surface of things, while God disposes all things according to a wisdom that knows no limitations and no succession of time. Our wisest thoughts are foolishness before God; and yet we are impatient when we can not see the causes that move God in his acts toward us.
The tomb of Lazarus was in a cave, and a stone lay against it. The traditional site of this tomb is shown near Bethany, and the sacrifice of the holy Mass is offered by pilgrims on the very spot where Jesus is said to have stood when he called Lazarus back to life. See A Diary of My Life in the Holy Land.
The tombs of the ancient Jews were placed either in natural caves, or in excavations wrought in the soft volcanic rock of the slopes of hills. Often these excavations extended into roomy chambers, in some cases, one beneath the other. The outer opening was usually only large enough to admit the dead body and its bearers. No coffin was used; the cadaver was wrapped in its cerements, and laid on the hewn rock in the tomb. A stone was rolled up against the outer opening of the tomb, and the body was left to decay.
Before this stone Jesus stood, and commanded that it be rolled away.
It is evident that Martha is not expecting the resurrection of her brother. She is alarmed at the command to open the tomb, and advises Jesus that the body is now decaying, being four days in the tomb.
This detail is added for our instruction. It excludes all possibility of a state of trance.
Jesus reminds Martha of the promise that he had made her faith. In the abridged account of the interview the Evangelist has omitted a previous mention of this promise. Martha is now informed that in this particular way she is to see the glory of God.
They take away the stone, and Jesus prays. There is an ineffable union eternally existing between the Word and the Father. This union is founded on an identity of nature. There was also a union between the Father and the Incarnate Word which we can not understand. Therefore God the Father always heard the petitions of his incarnate Son. Jesus speaks aloud here in his prayer, not that it was necessary for the miracle, Jesus as the Son of Man was always communing with God; but he wished to manifest to the people something of that ineffable union between himself and his Eternal Father, that the world might believe in his authentic mission.
At the conclusion of his prayer, Jesus in a loud voice bade Lazarus come forth. It was a loud voice that all might hear. At the command of that voice all the dead that are in the tombs shall one day come forth.
In answer to Jesus' command Lazarus came forth bound in his grave-clothes, just as he had been laid in the tomb.
There are here two miracles. There is the miracle of the raising of the man to life, and the miracle of his coming forth bound as he was. It is one of those clear cut proofs that leave no reasonable doubt. Jesus gives commandment that he be loosed from his cerements, and allowed to go free in life again. Even by this detail the miracle is corroborated, for those who removed these grave-bands could testify vividly of the genuineness of the miracle.
In Verse fifty, ὑμῖν is found in B, D, L, M, Χ, Γ, et al. : some authorities have ἡμῖν.
In the nineteenth verse of the present chapter St. John tells us that many Jews had come to console Martha and Mary. In the thirty-first verse he tells us that these followed Mary out to Jesus. And now St. John tells us that many Jews believed in Jesus. The question is whether he means that morally speaking all those who witnessed the events. believed, and that these were many; or that many of those who came out to Mary of Bethany believed. There are advo
cates of both opinions. It seems more probable that John's meaning is simply this that many Jews believed, and that those who believed were at Bethany and their witness of Jesus' miracle caused their faith. St. John does not declare what proportion of those present believed. He knew only by historical investigation that a number of Jews sufficiently large to justify the term "many" had believed in Jesus, and that the motive of their faith was the raising to life of Lazarus.
One would think that such a proof of Jesus' divine power would have converted the hardest of men; but the Pharisees are only moved by the miracle to greater hate. The chief priests and the Pharisees gather a council to determine what is to be done against Jesus. They admit his miracles, and for this very cause they declare that he must be removed, alleging that otherwise the Romans will destroy their nation. Many times since, reasons of state have moved men to oppose the Christian religion, though that religion teaches obedience to the state, and observance of its laws.
The priests and Pharisees are false in this allegation also, but they make use of it to accomplish the destruction of this man who had unmasked their wickedness. They knew that Jesus' kingdom was not of this world, and consequently, though Jesus was a king, he was not a rival of Cæsar. The Roman governor Pilate, after examining Jesus' claim to be a king, declared that he had found no crime in him. The Pharisees' cause resolves itself into this: Truth must be removed, lest men should be led by truth's great power to believe in truth.
We have already described the high priest Caiaphas, Vol. I., pages 285-286. He was a Sadducee, arrogant, cruel, and intriguing. With pride and haughty contempt he addresss the council. He despises them that they should hesitate to pronounce the death sentence on Jesus. He makes no question whether Jesus is innocent or not. Utility demands that Jesus must die. Caiaphas wishes Jesus' death; and he draws the council to ratify his nefarious design by making the death of Jesus a national necessity. His principle is: Better that one man should die than that a whole nation