John 11:15
And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there.—The words are at first sound startling, as following immediately upon the plain statement, “Lazarus is dead.” The utterance is not of sorrow, but of joy; but the joy is not at the fact of death, but at the fact that He was not there. Had He been there, Lazarus would not have died (John 11:21; John 11:32), and his recovery would have added to the work of healing. There is the assured consciousness of power over death itself, which sees as present all that is to follow, and sees in the strengthening of their faith ground for joy.

To the intent ye may believe.—They were already disciples, but this sign would be to them the vehicle of a higher spiritual truth, and the growth of their spiritual life would be such that it may be regarded as a new act of faith. (Comp. Note on John 2:11.)

Nevertheless let us go unto him.—The thought of the final issue of the sleep brings the whole future before the mind. But for this, His presence is needed at Bethany, and He abruptly breaks off this conversation about it, by what is at once a resolution and a summons to go there.

11:11-16 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.I am glad ... - The meaning of this verse may be thus expressed: "If I had been there during his sickness, the entreaties of his sisters and friends would have prevailed with me to restore him to health. I could not have refused them without appearing to be unkind. Though a restoration to health would have been a miracle, and sufficient to convince you, yet the miracle of raising him after being four days dead will be far more impressive, and on that account I rejoice that an opportunity is thus given so strikingly to confirm your faith."

To the intent - To furnish you evidence on which you might be established in the belief that I am the Messiah.

15. I am glad for your sakes I was not there—This certainly implies that if He had been present, Lazarus would not have died; not because He could not have resisted the importunities of the sisters, but because, in presence of the personal Life, death could not have reached His friend [Luthardt]. "It is beautifully congruous to the divine decorum that in presence of the Prince of Life no one is ever said to have died" [Bengel].

that ye may believe—This is added to explain His "gladness" at not having been present. His friend's death, as such, could not have been to Him "joyous"; the sequel shows it was "grievous"; but for them it was safe (Php 3:1).

Had I been upon the place, my kindness to his sisters, and pity, would have prevailed far with me to have prevented his death; but it is better, for your sakes at least, and I am glad. I was not there. For by this means I shalt have an advantage, by putting forth my Divine power in raising him from the dead, to confirm your faith in me as the Son of God, and the true Messias; therefore, though he be dead,

let us go unto him.

And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there,.... At Bethany, before he died, or when he died; because he might have been prevailed upon through the solicitations of his dear friends, Mary and Martha, and through tender affection to Lazarus, to have prevented his death, by rebuking the distemper, and restoring him to health, or to have raised him immediately as soon as he was dead; and in either case the miracle would not have been so illustrious, nor have been such a means of confirming the faith of his disciples, as now it would be:

to the intent ye may believe; more strongly, that he was the Son of God, and true Messiah:

nevertheless, let us go unto him; to Lazarus, to the grave where he lies: the Syriac version reads, "let us go there"; to Bethany, where he lived, and died, and now lay interred.

And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. I am glad] Christ rejoices, not at his friend’s death, but at His own absence from the scene, for the disciples’ sake. Had He been there, Lazarus would not have died, and the disciples would have lost this great sign of His Messiahship.

to the intent ye may believe] S. John’s favourite construction, indicating the Divine purpose: see on John 9:2-3. Would any forger have written this? Would it not seem utterly improbable that at the close of His ministry Christ should still be working in order that Apostles might believe? Yet S. John, who heard the words, records them, and he knew from sad experience (Mark 14:50; Mark 16:11; Luke 24:11; Luke 24:21) that this work was not superfluous. Just before the trial of faith which His Passion and Death would bring to them, His disciples had need of all the help and strength that He could give. See on John 2:11.

nevertheless let us go] He breaks off suddenly.

John 11:15. Ὅτι οὐκ ἤμην ἐκεῖ, that I was not there) It is beautifully consonant with Divine propriety, that no one is ever read of as having died whilst the Prince of life was present. If you suppose that death could not, in the presence of Jesus, have assailed Lazarus, the language of the two sisters, John 11:21; John 11:32, attains thereby a more sublime conception, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died:” and thereby also the joy of the Lord at His own absence is illustrated.—πρὸς αὐτόν, unto him) to the place where he lies dead.

Verse 15. - And I rejoice that I was not there. Death could not have occurred in his presence; at least, as Bengel says, we never read of any one dying in the presence of the Prince of life. Whenever he came into contact with death, he conquered the great enemy. Still, this was not the absolute reason for his gladness. The gladness was conditioned by the need of the disciples, not merely for the comfort of the sisters, or for his own greater glory, but for your sakes, to the end that ye might believe. The word πιστεύω is often used absolutely (John 1:7, 50; John 4:41, 42; John 5:44; John 6:36; and many other places). The disciples had believed something of Christ's power before (see John 2:11, etc.); but every act of faith prepares the way for another. Every fresh exercise of faith makes all previous efforts in the same direction appear elementary (cf. 1 John 5:13, T.R.). The joy of Jesus in the augmenting faith of his disciples is one of the most pathetic and instructive features of this Gospel (see John 16:31, and notes). The kingdom of God among men was, so far as we can see, dependent on the amount of faith that the apostles could be induced to cherish in the fact of the Incarnation during the brief period of this ministry. The Church has not yet come to a full understanding of all that he was. But if the disciples had not known his power over death, they would have been destitute of the alphabet of this new language, of the foundations of the spiritual city they had to build. Jesus rejoiced when disciples believed. So he does still. Nevertheless, let us go to him - to Lazarus, who still lives with God (cf. Matthew 22:32, and parallel passages). This is very remarkable. Even the dead body is in this case still (cf. John 14:31). John 11:15For your sakes - to the intent ye may believe

These two clauses, which are separated in the A.V. and Rev., are, in the Greek order, placed together: for your sakes, to the intent ye may believe; the latter clause being explanatory of the former.

That I was not there

Bengel's comment is beautiful and characteristic. "It accords beautifully with divine propriety that we read of no one having died while the Prince of life was present. If you suppose that death could not, in the presence of Jesus, have assailed Lazarus, the language of the two sisters, John 11:21, John 11:32, attains loftier meaning; and the Lord's joy at His own absence is explained."

Unto him (πρὸς αὐτόν)

Most touching. To him, as though he were yet living. Death has not broken the personal relation of the Lord with His friend.

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