John 11 The Raising of Lazarus from the Dead
Bruce R. McConkie
"At least twice before Jesus had raised the dead, but neither time under such dramatic circumstances or with such a display of divine power as was evidenced in the case of Lazarus. The daughter of Jairus had been called back to mortality in a matter of hours and before her body had been prepared for burial (Luke 8:41-42, 49-56), and the widow's son in Nain had lived and breathed again after most of the burial preparations were complete and while the corpse was being carried to the grave. (Luke 7:11-17.) In neither of these instances had Jesus courted any especial publicity, and in the case of Jairus' daughter he had even enjoined secrecy on the part of those who witnessed the miracle.
"But with 'our friend Lazarus' it was different. Jesus with full knowledge of Lazarus' sickness, did nothing to prevent his death; allowed his body to be prepared for burial; waited until the funeral was over and the entombment accomplished; permitted four days to pass so that the processes of decomposition would be well under way; tested the faith of Mary and Martha to the utmost; came to the rock-barred tomb under circumstances which attracted many skeptics and unbelievers; conducted himself in every respect as though he were courting publicity; and then-using the prerogative of Deity to give life or death according to his own will-commanded: 'Lazarus, come forth.'" (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 1: 530.)
John 11:6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place
Ezra Taft Benson
"One of the greatest of these miracles was the raising of His friend Lazarus from the dead. You remember how, when He received word that Lazarus was sick, He deliberately delayed going to Bethany to minister to His friend.
"The custom among the Jews was to bury their deceased on the same day of death; they held a superstition that the spirit lingered around the body for three days and then departed on the fourth day. Jesus was very familiar with their beliefs, and He therefore delayed His arrival in Bethany until Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. In that way there would be no question about the miracle He was to perform." (Come unto Christ [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 5.)
Russell M. Nelson
"There is great significance to the four-day interval between the death of Lazarus and his being called forth alive from the tomb. A portion of that significance was that, according to some Jewish traditions, it took four days before the Spirit finally and irrevocably departed from the body of the deceased person, so that decomposition could then proceed. The Master, in order to demonstrate His total power over death and His control over life, knowingly waited until that four-day interval had elapsed. Then He raised Lazarus from the dead!" (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1998], 180.)
John 11:9 If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not
James E. Talmage
"Jesus made clear to them that He was not to be deterred from duty in the time thereof, nor should others be; for as He illustrated, the working day is twelve hours long; and during that period a man may walk without stumbling, for he walks in the light, but if he let the hours pass and then try to walk or work in darkness, he stumbles. It was then His day to work, and He was making no mistake in returning to Judea." (Jesus the Christ, 491)
John 11:11 Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep
David O. McKay
"That the spirit of man passes triumphantly through the portals of death into everlasting life is one of the glorious messages given by Christ, our Redeemer. To him this earthly career is but a day, and its closing but the setting of life's sun; death, but a sleep, is followed by a glorious awakening in the morning of an eternal realm. When Mary and Martha saw their brother only as a corpse in the dark and silent tomb, Christ saw him still a living being. This fact he expressed in just two words: 'Lazarus sleepeth.' (See John 11:11.)" (Conference Report, April 1968, First Day-Morning Meeting 10.)
John 11:16 Then said Thomas...Let us also go, that we may die with him
The apostle Thomas is known for his moment of doubt (Jn. 20:24-29). His very name has been used throughout the world as the prototype for doubters. Yet, haven't we all had moments of doubt? Rather than think of Thomas as a doubter, maybe we should think of him for his willingness to die for Christ. Like the other apostles, he thought that Jesus would be stoned if he appeared again among the Jews. When Christ says, 'let us go unto him' (speaking of Lazarus), Thomas interprets this to mean that Christ wants to go to the spirit world to be with Lazarus. Accordingly, he declares without a doubt, that he is willing to die for the Master, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.' In this instance, we ask, "Was he a doubting Thomas or a courageous and faithful Thomas?"
Bruce R. McConkie
"Clearly this holy man, known also as Didymus, was one of the most valiant and courageous of the Twelve, one whose sure witness of the divine Sonship is recorded in fervent and worshipful words. When others of the Twelve counseled Jesus not to go into Judea, where the Jews then sought his life and where Lazarus lay in need of divine help, it was Thomas who said, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.' (John 11:16.) When Jesus told the Twelve that he was going to prepare a heavenly place for them and that they knew the way to obtain such a high status, it was Thomas who dared to say: 'Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?' (John 14:5), which brought forth the great pronouncement that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 2: 110.)
John 11:19 many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary
Even though the record doesn't number the multitude, apparently the size of the group was considerable. While the Lord interacts primarily with Mary and Martha, this miracle is performed as a sign to these Jews. Most of Christ's miracles were performed in Galilee, but the raising of Lazarus was intended as a witness to these Jews that Jesus of Nazareth had power over life and death; that he meant what he said when he declared, 'I am the resurrection, and the life.' When Christ raised the daughter of Jairus from death, he first put everyone out of the room except Peter, James, John and the parents (Mark 5:35-43), but this miracle was to be done openly, in view of all those who had come to comfort Mary and Martha.
It was for the benefit of these Jews that Jesus said, 'Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me' (v. 41). It was for the benefit of these Jews that Christ had waited the four days. It was for their benefit that the miracle was performed in an open and dramatic fashion.
Bruce R. McConkie
"This raising of Lazarus from the dead is thus a witness, for all the world and through all the eternities, that the Man who did it is the resurrection and the life; that immortality and eternal life come by him; that he is the Son of the Living God." ("Drink from the Fountain," Ensign, Apr. 1975, 71)
John 11:22-32 I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee
One of the most impressive elements of this story is the great faith of Mary and Martha, the tender feelings of the Savior towards them, and their love for him. Martha was probably upset that the Lord had delayed his coming. After Lazarus' death, Mary and Martha had little else to do but discuss the "what if" scenarios. What if Jesus had been here? What if he had come as soon as he was summoned? Such second guessing may well have taken place, but Martha doesn't let bitterness belittle her faith, for she declares, 'I know, that even now...God will give it thee.' We would do well to emulate Martha's faithfulness and her testimony. When the tragic scenarios of our lives lead to second guessing of the Lord's plan, we like Martha, should have faith that the Lord will come through 'even now' when it seems to be everlastingly too late.
Carlos E. Asay
"I wish all young women would emulate the loyalty and commitment of a Ruth, the sense of destiny of an Esther, the depth of testimony of a Martha, and the love of God such as Mary showed. Just imagine what a young lady might become if she sought diligently to acquire all the virtues associated with the great women mentioned in holy writ." (The Road to Somewhere: A Guide for Young Men and Women [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 53.)
"Jesus spoke those words which have ever since carried comfort and hope to the hearts of every believer who has mourned the death of a loved one: 'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.' (John 11:21-25.)
"It was to the woman that he addressed the words which could have been uttered only by a divine Personage...Here was witnessed by the women a miracle which was performed by one who had at his disposal the power of an omnipotent being. Here was made manifest to them the power of the Redeemer to restore mortal life to the dead. But even greater and certainly more important than this miraculous manifestation which they beheld was the resurrection of the Son of God himself, which the women were to be the first to witness; the redemption of a Personage from mortality to immortality. This was to be the resurrection of him who had the power not only to lay down his own life, but also to take it up again." (Matthew Cowley Speaks [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 319.)
John 11:25 I am the resurrection, and the life
Bruce R. McConkie
"The whole purpose of the plan of salvation is to provide immortality for all men and to make eternal life available for those who overcome the world and qualify for such a high exaltation. 'For behold, this is my work and my glory,' saith God, 'to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.' (Moses 1:39.) This is accomplished through the redemption of Christ, by virtue of which all men are 'raised in immortality,' thus being redeemed from the temporal fall, and by virtue of which the saints are 'raised [also] unto eternal life,' thus being 'redeemed from their spiritual fall.' (D&C 29:43-44.)
"Immortality/Salvation is in Christ. Immortality comes through him; his resurrection brings to pass the resurrection of all men. Eternal life is his gift to those whose sins he has borne. 'I am the resurrection, and the life,' he said. 'Both immortality and eternal life come because of my atoning sacrifice.' 'He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.' Temporal death and spiritual death are both swallowed up in Christ. 'And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.' (John 11:25-26.)" (A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 153.)
Joseph F. Smith
"I cannot conceive of any more desirable thing than is vouchsafed to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ-that though we die, yet we shall live again, and though we die and dissolve into the native elements of which our tabernacles are composed, yet these elements will again be restored to each other and be reorganized, and we will become again living souls just as the Savior did before us; and his having done so has made it possible for all the rest of us. What can there be more joyous to think of than the fact that Brother Freeze, who loved his wife and whom she loved, to whom he was true and who was true to him all her days of association with him as wife and mother, will have the privilege of coming up on the morning of the first resurrection clothed with immortality and eternal life, and resume the relationship that existed between them in this life, the relationship of husband and wife, father and mother, parents to their children, having laid the foundation for eternal glory and eternal exaltation in the kingdom of God! Life without this hope would seem to me in vain. And yet there is nothing that I have ever discovered in the world, except the gospel of Jesus Christ, that gives this assurance. Nothing has ever pointed it out in a tangible way except the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ has laid this foundation, has taught this principle and this truth, and has uttered that memorable sentiment that, 'He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.' (John 11:25, 26)" (Gospel Doctrine: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith, compiled by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939], 457.)
Gordon B. Hinckley
"Death may and will come, but death has been robbed of its sting, and the grave of its victory. 'I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.' (John 11:25-26.)
"I stood a few days ago before the bier of a young man whose life had been bright with hope and promise. He had been an athlete in his high school, and a student for one year at this university. He was a friendly, affable, brilliant young man. He had gone into the mission field. He and his companion were riding down the highway when a car, coming from the opposite direction, moved into their lane and crashed head-on into them. He died In the hospital an hour later. As I stood at the pulpit and looked into the faces of his father and his mother, there came into my heart a conviction that I had never before felt with such assurance. I knew with certainty, as I looked across that casket, that he had not died, but had merely been transferred to another field of labor to commence his mission so well begun here.
"What shall you do with Jesus which is called Christ? Live today as if you were going to live forever, for you surely shall. Live with the conviction that whatsoever principle of intelligence and beauty and truth and goodness you attain unto in this life, it shall rise with you In the resurrection. Live with the certain knowledge that some day 'we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt.' (Alma 11:43.)" (December 14, 1960, BYU Speeches of the Year, 1960, 4.)
Howard W. Hunter
"'We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.' (Article of Faith 3.)
"We also believe in the literal resurrection of the body, reunited with the spirit, becoming the spiritual body or the soul as defined by scripture. If we should eliminate from our religious beliefs the doctrine of the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the resurrection of mankind, there would be nothing left but a code of ethics. The propositions of ethics may be noble, but they lack those elements of the gospel that lead men to eternal exaltation. Philosophy and theology may be interesting and give us lofty concepts, and we may become inspired by profound thinking, but Christian faith is based upon the simplicity of the gospel, the example, the life, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. This was the witness of Paul to the saints at Corinth, and the message applies to us in this day, living as we do in a world that can be compared in many ways to Corinth of old. In a society of turmoil, immorality, freethinking, and questioning of the reality of God, we reach out for the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ-the gospel which gives to us comfort, hope, a desire for righteousness, and peace in one's heart.
"I have a conviction that God lives and that Jesus is the Christ. As Paul bore testimony to the saints of Corinth by his letter at that Easter season many years ago, I add my witness that we shall rise from mortal death to have life everlasting, because of the atoning sacrifice and resurrection of the Savior. In my mind I picture him with arms outstretched to all who will hear:
John 11:27 yea Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ
"After Jesus describes the hope of the Resurrection, Martha, who most certainly is not 'cumbered' on this occasion, firmly declares her testimony as she proclaims with conviction, 'Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.' (John 11:27.)
"Her faith is well placed, as attested by the astonishing experience that follows. We can only imagine the glorious scene as the grieving of those assembled to mourn the death of Lazarus turns to rejoicing when Lazarus comes forth from his grave. (See John 11:40-44.)
"This, in fact, is the picture I wish I could paint. What a glorious occasion to set to canvas! It is this scene, more than any other, which most clearly illustrates the faith Mary and Martha had in the Lord." (Evelyn T. Marshall, "Mary and Martha-Faithful Sisters, Devoted Disciples," Ensign, Jan. 1987, 31)
Joseph Fielding Smith
"'Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.' (John 11:20-27.) Every member of the Church should have the same assurance that Martha had. It is their privilege to know that Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God, and is the resurrection and the life." (Man, His Origin and Destiny [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 358.)
John 11:35 Jesus wept
The Jews presumed that Jesus wept because he was sad that Lazarus was dead. Such was not the case, for he knew that Lazarus would be raised from the dead in only five minutes. Others have presumed that Christ wept because of his love and tender feelings for Mary and Martha. Certainly, he "mourned with those that mourned, and comforted those that stood in need of comfort," (Mosiah 18:9) but Christ knew that this mourning would shortly be turned into joy. The greatest tragedy of the story of Lazarus is that some of the Jews who would witness this miracle would still not believe. Jesus knows that the leaders of the Jews will hate him even more for performing this miracle.
What makes God weep? Enoch asked, 'How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?' (Moses 7:29). The greatest source of God's pain is the wickedness of his children, 'Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands...I said...that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood...among all the workmanship of mine hands there has not been so great wickedness as among thy brethren' (Moses 7:34-36). Here God declares that the inhabitants of this earth are the most wicked of all of his creations. This is a staggering declaration! But even more wicked than the people of Enoch's day, were the Jews of Christ's day. Nephi prophesied that Christ would come 'among those who are the more wicked part of the world...and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God. But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified' (2 Ne. 10:3-5). Jesus wept at the wickedness of those who could witness the raising of Lazarus and yet would not repent. He wept over the wickedness of Jerusalem (Lu. 19:41), and lamented that they would not be gathered together, 'even as a hen gathereth her chickens under he wings' (Matt. 23:37).
John 11:42 I knew that thou hearest me always
David O. McKay
"Seek guidance from God always. With all my soul I admonish you to do that. Take that message home. I give you this illustration because by some, prayer is thought to be nonessential:
"The manager of a great business firm knew it was an important factor in his success. One morning one of his superintendents came rushing into his office and told the secretary he wanted to see the manager. She said promptly, 'He is in conference.' 'He cannot be in conference at this early hour," said the superintendent and rushed by her, opened the door, and then quietly retreated, closed the door, and said to the secretary, 'I did not think he was that kind of man.' 'Yes,' said the secretary, 'I told you he was in conference.' 'Yes,' replied the superintendent, 'in conference with One more important than I.'
"I close with this testimony, that divine guidance is a reality, as real today as when the Savior said to his Father, 'And I knew that thou hearest me always.' (John 11:42.) Get that consciousness. So live that you may have that response to divine guidance, and your life will be happy." (Improvement Era, 1953, Vol. Lvi. August, 1953. No. 8)
John 11:43 come forth
Thomas S. Monson
"The passage of time has not altered the capacity of the Redeemer to change men's lives. As He said to the dead Lazarus, so He says to you and me: 'Come forth.' (John 11:43.) Come forth from the despair of doubt. Come forth from the sorrow of sin. Come forth from the death of disbelief. Come forth to a newness of life. Come forth." ("The Paths Jesus Walked," Ensign, Sept. 1992, 6)
John 11:47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? For this man doeth many miracles
A man has been raised from the dead after being dead for four days! This council doesn't ask the obvious question, "maybe this is the Messiah;" the thought never seems to cross their minds. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man was specifically designed to describe those who were so wicked that they would reject the testimony of one who had returned from the dead.
Of all Christ's parables, only one individual is named and that is the beggar Lazarus (Luke 16:20). The Savior's intent was to foreshadow the Jews' response to the raising of Lazarus. The chief priests and Pharisees are likened unto the rich man in the parable. They were to die, and like the rich man, go to hell, where they would 'lift up [their] eyes, being in torments, and see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And [they] cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame...then [they] said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And [they] said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.' (Luke 16:23-31, italics added)
James E. Talmage
"'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.' Now a Lazarus had been in reality raised from the dead, and many of the Jews rejected the testimony of his return and refused to believe in Christ through whom alone death is overcome. The Jews tried to get Lazarus into their power that they might kill him and, as they hoped, silence forever his testimony of the Lord's power over death. (Jn. 12:10)" (Jesus the Christ, 497)
John 11:50 it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not
Caiaphas, a wicked man, used a true principle to argue for the murder of the Messiah. Years earlier, under completely different circumstances, the same argument was used for the Lord's purposes. As Nephi considered what to do with Laban, the Spirit whispered, 'It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief' (1 Ne. 4:13).
Ironically and quite accidentally, Caiaphas was right. It was better that Jesus should die for the people, for without his atoning sacrifice, the whole nation would indeed perish. Without the atonement, we would all suffer spiritual death and 'become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil...and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery' (2 Ne. 9:9).
John 11:56 What think ye, that he will not come to the feast?
Bruce R. McConkie
"As the time of the Fourth Passover draws near, fanatical tides of religious anarchy sweep through Jerusalem-through the Holy City, the City of David, through the religious capital of the world. Never in the whole history of the world have religious feelings and fanaticism built themselves up to such a crisis as now impends...For three and a half years Jesus has taught and preached and worked miracles in every city and village throughout the land...so these Jews all know that there is one among them who claims to be the Son of God. It is as though each day the press, radio, and television carry new banner headlines and relay extensive broadcasts telling his doings of that day. There are press releases quoting his words; accounts of eyewitnesses who saw his miracles; the testimonies of those who were healed; the views of his enemies that he works by the power of Beelzebub...Every Sabbath in the synagogues his doings and sayings are discussed by friends and foes. Every marketplace is ablaze with gossip and rumor about him. On every street corner men congregate to exchange opinions and gain new views. The raising of Lazarus is discussed in every home; the name of Jesus is on every tongue...'Will he not come to the feast?' they ask, and none seem to know." (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 3: 332.)
Howard W. Hunter
"Jewish law required the attendance of all adult males at this, the most sacred of Israel's ceremonial commemorations. But members of the Sanhedrin had openly vowed to put Jesus to death, and the likelihood of his appearance at such a public gathering was doubted by many.
"The feeling of danger for him was everywhere present, but Jesus did come to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover, not with pomp and ceremony, but on a lowly donkey-the symbol of humility and peace." ("His Final Hours," Ensign, May 1974, 17)