Chrysostom on John 62
"Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, of the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment."
[1.] Many men, when they see any of those who are pleasing to God suffering anything terrible, as, for instance, having fallen into sickness, or poverty, and any other the like, are offended, not knowing that to those especially dear to God it belongeth to endure these things; since Lazarus also was one of the friends of Christ, and was sick. This at least they who sent said, “Behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.” But let us consider the passage from the beginning. “A certain man,” It saith, “was sick, Lazarus of Bethany.” Not without a cause nor by chance hath the writer mentioned whence Lazarus was, but for a reason which he will afterwards tell us. At present let us keep to the passage before us. He also for our advantage informeth us who were Lazarus’ sisters; and, moreover, what Mary had more (than the other), going on to say, “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment.” Here some doubting2 say, “How did the Lord endure that a woman should do this?” In the first place then it is necessary to understand, that this is not the harlot mentioned in Matthew (Mt 26,7), or the one in Lc (Lc 7,37), but a different person; they were harlots full of many vices, but she was both grave and earnest; for she showed her earnestness about the entertainment of Christ. The Evangelist also means to show, that the sisters too loved Him, yet He allowed Lazarus to die. Butwhy did they not, like the centurion and the nobleman, leave their sick brother, and cometo Christ, instead of sending? They were veryconfident in Christ, and had towards Him astrong familiar feeling. Besides, they were weak women, and oppressed with grief; for that they acted not in this way as thinking slightly of Him, they afterwards showed. It is then clear, that this Mary was not the harlot. “But wherefore,” saith some one, “did Christ admit that harlot?” That He might put away her iniquity; that He might show His lovingkindness; that thou mightest learn that there is no malady which prevaileth over His goodness. Look not therefore at this only, that He received her, but consider the other point also, how He changed her. But, (to return,) why doth the Evangelist relate this history to us? Or rather, what doth he desire to show us by saying,
Jn 11,5 Jn 11,3 “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”
That we should never be discontented or vexed if any sickness happen to good men, and such as are dear to God.
Jn 11,3-4 “Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.”
They desired to draw on Christ to pity, for they still gave heed to Him as to a man. This is plain from what they say, “If thou hadst been here, he5 had not died,” and from their saying, not, “Behold, Lazarus is sick,” but “Behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” What then said Christ?
Jn 11,4. “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
Observe how He again asserteth that His glory and the Father’s is One; for after saying “of God,” He hath added, “that the Son of God might be glorified.”
“This sickness is not unto death.” Since He intended to tarry two days where He was, He for the present sendeth away the messengers with this answer. Wherefore we must admire Lazarus’ sisters, that after hearing that the sickness was “not unto death,” and yet seeing him dead, they were not offended, although the event had been directly contrary. But even so they came to Him,6 and did not think that He had spoken falsely.
The expression “that” in this passage denotes not cause, but consequence; the sickness happened from other causes, but He used it for the glory of God.
Jn 11,6. “And having said this, He tarried two days.”7
Wherefore tarried He? That Lazarus might breathe his last, and be buried; that none might be able to assert that He restored him when not yet dead, saying that it was a lethargy, a fainting, a fit,8 but not death. On this account He tarried so long, that corruption began, and they said, “He now stinketh.”
Jn 11,7. “Then saith He to his disciples, Let us go into Judea.”9
Why, when He never in other places told them beforehand where He was going, doth He tell them here? They had been greatly terrified, and since they were is this way disposed, He forewarneth them, that the suddenness might not trouble them. What then say the disciples?
Jn 11,8. “The Jews of late sought to stone Thee, and goest Thou thither again?”
They therefore had feared for Him also, but for the more part rather for themselves; for they were not yet perfect. So Thomas, shaking with fear, said, “Let us go, that we also may die with Him” (Jn 11,16), because Thomas was weaker and more unbelieving 10 than the rest. But see how Jesus encourageth them by what He saith.
Jn 11,9. “Are there not twelve hours of the day?” 11
(He either saith this, 12 that “he who is conscious to himself of no evil, shall suffer nothing dreadful; only he that doeth evil shall suffer, so that we need not fear, because we have done nothing worthy of death”; or else that, “he who ‘seeth the light of this world’ is 13 in safety; and if he that seeth the light of this world is in safety, much more he that is with Me, if he separate not himself from Me.” Having encouraged them by these words, He addeth, that the cause of their going thither was pressing, and showeth them that they were about to go not unto Jerusalem, but unto Bethany.
Jn 11,11-12. “Our friend Lazarus,” He saith, “sleepeth, but I go that I may awake him out of sleep.”
That is, “I go not for the same purpose as before, again to reason and contend with the Jews, but to awaken our friend.”
Jn 11,12. “Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep he shall do well.”
This they said not without a cause, but desiring to hinder the going thither. “Sayest Thou,” asks one of them, “that he sleepeth? Then there is no urgent reason for going.” Yet on this account He had said, “Our friend,” to show that the going there was necessary. When therefore their disposition was somewhat reluctant, He said,
[2.] Jn 11,14. 14 “He is dead.”
The former word He spake, desiring to prove that He loved not boasting; but since they understood not, He added, “He is dead.”
Jn 11,15. “And I am glad for your sakes.”
Why “for your sakes”? “Because I have forewarned you of his death, not being there, and because when I shall raise him again, there will be no suspicion of deceit.” Seest thou how the disciples were yet imperfect in their disposition, and knew not His power as they ought? and this was caused by interposing terrors, which troubled and disturbed their souls. When He said, “He sleepeth,” He added, “I go to awake him”; but when He said, “He is dead,” He added not, “I go to raise him”; for He would not foretell in words what He was about to establish certainly by works, everywhere teaching us not to be vainglorious, and that we must not make promises without a cause. And if He did thus in the case of the centurion when summoned, (for He said, "I will come and heal him—Mt 8,7,) it was to show the faith of the centurion that He said this. If any one ask, “How did the disciples imagine sleep? How did they not understand that death was meant from His saying, ‘I go to awake him?’ for it was folly if they expected that He would go fifteen stadia to awake him”; we would reply, that they deemed this to be a dark saying, such as He often spake to them.
Now they all feared the attacks of the Jews, but Thomas above the rest; wherefore also he said,
Jn 11,16. “Let us go, that we also may die with Him.”
Some say that he desired himself to die; but it is not so; the expression is rather one of cowardice. Yet he was not rebuked, for Christ as yet supported his weakness, but afterwards he became stronger than all, and invincible. 15 For the wonderful thing is this; that we see one who was so weak before the Crucifixion, become after the Crucifixion, and after having believed in the Resurrection, more zealous than any. So great was the power of Christ. The very man who dared not go in company with Christ to Bethany, the same while not seeing Christ ran 16 well nigh through the inhabited world, and dwelt in the midst of nations that were full of murder, and desirous to kill him.
But if Bethany was “fifteen furlongs off,” which is two miles, how was Lazarus “dead four days”? 17 Jesus tarried two days, on the day before those two one had come with the message, 18 (on which same day Lazarus died,) then in the course of the fourth day He arrived. He waited to be summoned, and came not uninvited on this account, that no one might suspect what took place; nor did those women who were beloved by Him come themselves, but others were sent).
Jn 11,18. “Now Bethany was 19 about fifteen furlongs off.”
Not without cause doth he mention this, but desires to inform us that it was near, and that it was probable on this account that many would be there. He therefore declaring this adds,
Jn 11,19. “Many of the Jews came 20 to comfort them.” 21
But how should they comfort women beloved of Christ, when 22 they had agreed, that if any should confess Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue? It was either because of the grievous nature of the calamity, or that they respected them as of superior birth, or else these who came were not the wicked sort, many at least even of them believed. The Evangelist mentions these circumstances, to prove that Lazarus was really dead.
[3.] But why did not [Martha,] when she went to meet Christ, 23 take her sister with her? She desired to meet with Him apart, and to tell Him what had taken place. But when He had brought her to good hopes, she went and called Mary, who met Him while her grief was yet at its height. Seest thou how fervent her love was? This is the Mary of whom He said, “Mary hath chosen that good part.” (Lc 10,42). “How then,” saith one, “doth Martha appear more zealous?” She was not more zealous, but it was because the other had not yet been informed, 24 since Martha was the weaker. For even when she had heard such things from Christ, she yet speaks in a groveling manner, “By this time he stinketh, for he hath been dead four days.” (Jn 11,39). But Mary, though she had heard nothing, uttered nothing of the kind, but at once believing, 25 saith, 26
Jn 11,21. “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
See how great is the heavenly wisdom of the women, although their understanding be weak. For when theysaw Christ, theydid not break out into mourning and wailing and loud crying, as we do when we see any of those we know coming in upon our grief; but straightway they reverence their Teacher. So then both thesesisters believed in Christ, but not in a right way; for they did not yet certainly know 27 either that He was God, or that He did these things by His own power and authority; on both which points He taught them. For they showed their ignorance of the former, by saying, “If thou hadst been here, our brother had not died”; and of the latter, by saying, 28
Jn 11,22. “Whatsoever 29 thou wilt ask of God, He will give it thee.”
As though they spoke of some virtuous and approved mortal. But see what Christ saith;
Jn 11,23. “Thy brother shall rise again.”
(He thus far refuteth the former saying, “Whatsoever thou wilt ask”; for He said not, “I ask,” but what? “Thy brother shall rise again.” To have said, “Woman, thou still lookest below, I need not the help of another, but do all of Myself,” would have been grievous, and a stumblingblock in her way, but to say, “He shall rise again,” was the act of one who chose a middle mode of speech. 30 And by means of that which follows, He alluded to the points I have mentioned; for when Martha saith,
Jn 11,24. “I know that he shall rise again 31 in the last day,” to prove more clearly His authority, He replieth,
Jn 11,25. “I am the Resurrection and the Life.”
Showing that He needed no other to help Him, if so be that He Himself is the Life; since if He needed another, 32 how could Hebe “the Resurrection and the Life”? Yet He did not plainly state this, but merely hinted it. But when she saith again, “Whatsoever thou wilt ask,” He replieth,
“He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”
Showing that He is the Giver of good things, and that we must ask of Him.
Jn 11,26. “And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die.”
Observe how He leadeth her mind upward; for to raise Lazarus was not the only thing sought; it was necessary that both she and they who were with her should learn the Resurrection. Wherefore before the raising of the dead He teacheth heavenly wisdom by words. But if He is “the Resurrection,” and “the Life,” He is not confined by place, but, present everywhere, knoweth how to heal. If therefore they had said, as did the centurion, “Speak the word, and my servant shall be healed” (Mt 8,8), He would have done so; but since they summoned Him to them, and begged Him to come, He condescendeth in order to raise them from the humble opinion they had formed of Him, and cometh to the place. Still while condescending, He showed that even when absent He had power to heal. On this account also He delayed, for the mercy would not have been apparent as soon as it was given, had there not been first an ill savor (from the corpse). But how did the woman know that there was to be a Resurrection? They 33 had heard Christ say many things about the Resurrection, yet still she now desired to see Him. And observe how she still lingers below; for after hearing, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” not even so did she say, “Raise him,” but,
Jn 11,27. “I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”
What is Christ’s reply? “He that believeth on Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live,” 34 (here speaking of this death which is common to all. 35 ) “And whosoever liveth and believeth on Me, shall never die” (Jn 11,26), signifying that other death. “Since then I am the Resurrection and the Life, be not thou troubled, though thy brother be already dead, but believe, for this is not death.” For a while He comforted her on what had happened; and gave her glimpses of hope, by saying, “He shall rise again,” and, “I am the Resurrection”; and that having risen 36 again, though he should again die, he shall suffer no harm, so that it needs not to fear this death. What He saith is of this kind: “Neither is this man dead, nor shall ye die.” “Believest thou this?” She saith, “I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God.”
“Which should come into the world.”
The woman seems to me not to understand the saying; she was conscious that it was some great thing, but did not perceive the whole meaning, so that when asked one thing, she answered another. Yet for a while at least she had this gain, that she moderated her grief; such was the power of the words of Christ. On this account Martha went forth first, and Mary followed. For their affection to their Teacher did not allow them strongly to feel their present sorrow; so that the minds of these women were truly wise as well as loving.
[4.] But in our days, among our other evils there is one malady very prevalent among our women; they make a great show in their dirges and wailings, baring 37 their arms, tearing their hair, making furrows down their cheeks. And this they do, some from grief, others from ostentation and rivalry, others from wantonness; and they bare their arms, and this too in the sight of men. Why doest thou, woman? Dost thou strip thyself in unseemly sort, tell me, thou who art a member of Christ, in the midst of the market-place, when men are present there? Dost thou pluck thy hair, and rend thy garments, and wail loudly, 38 and join the dance, and keep throughout a resemblance to Bacchanalian women, and dost thou not think that thou art offending God? What madness is this? Will not the heathen 39 laugh? Will they not deem our doctrines fables? They will say, “There is no resurrection—the doctrines of the Christians are mockeries, trickery, and contrivance. For their women lament as though there were nothing after this world; they give no heed to the words engraven in their books; all those wordsare fictions, and these women show that they are so. Since had they believed that he who hath died is not dead, but hath removed to a better life, they would not have mourned him as no longer being, they would not have thus beaten themselves, 40 they would not have uttered such words as these, full of unbelief, ‘I shall never see thee more, I shall never more regain thee,’ all their religion is a fable, and if the very chief of good things is thus wholly disbelieved by them, much more the other things which are reverenced among them.” The heathen 41 are not so womanish, among them many have practiced heavenly wisdom; and a woman hearing that her child had fallen in battle, straightway asked, “And in what state are the affairs of the city?” Another truly wise, when being garlanded 42 he heard that his son had fallen for his country, took off the garland, and asked which of the two; then when he had learnt which it was, immediately put the garland on again. Many also gave their sons and their daughters for slaughter in honor of their evil deities; and Lacedaemonian women exhort their sons either to bring back their shield safe from war, or to be brought back dead upon it. Wherefore I am ashamed thatthe heathen show true wisdom in these matters, and we act unseemly. Those who know nothing about the Resurrection act the part of those who know; and those who know, the part of those who know not. And ofttimes many dothrough shame of men what they do not for the sake of God. For women of the higher class neither tear 43 their hair nor bare their arms; which very thing is a most heavy charge against them, not because they do not strip themselves, but because they act as they do not through piety, but that they may not be thought to disgrace themselves. Is their shame stronger than grief, and the fear of God not stronger? And must not this deserve severest censure? What the rich women do because of their riches, the poor ought to do through fear of God; but at present it is quite the contrary; the rich act wisely through vainglory, the poor through littleness of soul act unseemly. What is worse than this anomaly? We do all for men, all for the things of earth. And these people utter words full of madness and much ridicule. The Lord saith indeed, “Blessed are they that mourn” (Mt 5,4), speaking of those who mourn 44 for their sins; and no one mourneth that kind of mourning, nor careth for a lost soul; but this other we were not bidden to practice, and we practice it. 45 “What then?” saith some one, “Is it possible being man not to weep?” No, neither do I 46 forbid weeping, but I forbid the beating yourselves, the weeping immoderately. 47 I am neither brutal nor cruel. I know that our nature asks 48 and seeks for its friends and daily companions; it cannot but be grieved. As also Christ showed, for He wept over Lazarus. So do thou; weep, but gently, but with decency, but with the fear of God. If so thou weepest, thou dost so not as disbelieving the Resurrection, but as not enduring the separation. Since even over those who are leaving us, and departing to foreign lands, we weep, yet we do this not as despairing.
[5.] And so do thou weep, as if thou wert sending one on his way to another land. These things I say, not as giving a rule of action, but as condescending (to human infirmity). For if the dead man have been a sinner, and one who hath in many things offended God, it behooveth to weep (or rather not to weep only, since that is of no avail to him, but to do what one can to procure 49 some comfort for him by almsgivings and offerings; 50 ) but it behooveth also to rejoice at this, that his wickedness hath been cut short. If he have been righteous, it again 51 behooveth to be glad, that what is his is now placed in security, free from the uncertainty of the future; if young, that he hath been quickly delivered from the common evils of life; if old, that he hath departed after taking to satiety that which is held desirable. But thou, neglecting to consider these things, incitest thy hand-maidens to act as mourners, as if forsooth thou wert honoring the dead, when it is an act of extreme dishonor. 52 For honor to the dead is not wailings and lamentings, but hymns and psalmodies and an excellent life. The good man when hedeparteth, shall depart with angels, though no man be near his remains; but the corrupt, though he have a city to attend his funeral, shall be nothing profited. Wilt thou honor him who is gone? Honor him in another way, by alms-deeds, by acts of beneficence and public service. 53 What avail the many lamentations? And I have heard also another grievous thing, that many women attract lovers by their sad cries, acquiring by the fervor of their wailings a reputation for affection to their husbands. O devilish purpose! O Satanic invention! 54 How long are we but dust and ashes, how long but blood and flesh? Look we up to heaven, take we thought of spiritual things. 55 How shall we be able to rebuke the heathen, 56 howto exhort them, when we do such things? How shall we dispute with them concerning the Resurrection? How about the rest of heavenly wisdom? How shall we ourselves live without fear? Knowest not thou that of grief 57 cometh death? for grief darkening 58 the seeing part of the soul not only hindereth it from perceiving anything that it ought, but also worketh it great mischief. In one way then we offend God, and advantage neither ourselves nor him who is gone; in the other we please God, and gain honor among men. If we sink not down ourselves, He will soon remove the remains of our despondency; if we are discontented, He permitteth us to be given up to grief. If we are thankful, we shall not despond. “But how,” saith some one, “is it possible not to be grieved, when one has lost a son or daughter or wife?” I say not, “not to grieve,” but “not to do so immoderately.” For if we consider that God hath taken away, and that the husband or son which we had was mortal, we shall soon receive comfort. To be discontented is the act of those who seek for something higher than their nature. Thou wast born man, and mortal; why then grievest thou that what is natural hath come to pass? Grievest thou that thou art nourished by eating? Seekest thou to live without this? 59 Act thus also in the case of death, and being mortal seek not as vet for immortality. Once for all this thing hath been appointed. Grieve not therefore, nor play the mourner, but submit to laws laid on all alike. Grieve for thy sins; this is good mourning, this is highest wisdom. Let us then mourn for this cause continually, that we may obtain the joy which is there, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen).
1 lit). “overflow.”
3 aujta;, i.e. higher sayings.
4 al). “have passed to perfection,” al). “have passed from low-mindedness.”
6 al). “have been held.”
7 “so I do,” N. T.
8 al). “I speak nothing.”
9 al). “caused.”
11 al). “not to reckon.”
12 or, “because.”
13 al. for when we are persuaded from the actions that the men are offended at high sayings, and when He saith Himself, that “on this account I speak in a lowly way, lest they should be offended,” who will yet suspect, &c.
14 al). “to look to.”
15 al. and the maliciousness of the hearers, and its being continually said in the Old (Covenant), “The Lord thy God is One Lord.”
16 al). “hath no cause at all that is specious.”
17 “My Father,” N. T.
18 al). “now to show that,” &c.
19 al). “if.”
20 al). “put not on.”
21 al). “enduring mean things.”
22 al). “greatness.”
23 al). “admired.”
24 al). “to enter on the passage itself.”
26 al). “upon.”
27 al. some mss. add, “for Thou doest all things, whatsoever I will, He saith.”
28 al). “meaner.”
29 al. again, “why look ye,” &c., “we also,” &c.
30 al. but He even saith the contrary “because,” &c.
31 al. so then the “hearing Me always” meaneth, &c).
32 i.e. a mere superiority of the Father.
33 i.e. to use prayer.
34 Ver. 44). “And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin.” N. T). “Jesus saith unto them, Loose him.” N. T.
35 al). “walk.”
36 Ver. 45–47). “Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the Chief Priests and Pharisees a council.” N. T.
37 al). “are coming.”
38 N. T). “All men will believe on Him, and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”
39 al). “which they mean to say?”
40 al). “see.”
41 al). “us about a kingdom.”
42 al). “exhibit.”
43 al). “plain.”
44 al). “did He surround Himself with.”
46 ajpo; paqou`" tou` ejautw`n. Sav. reads to; p. tou` eJ).
47 al). “vainglory.”
48 al). “the roads and the sea are beset.”
50 al). “misfortune.”
51 al). “not the common.”
"Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him. The Jews then which were with her," and what follows.
[1.] A Great good is philosophy; the philosophy, I mean, which is with us. For what the heathen have is words and fables only; nor have these fables anything truly wise2 in them; since everything among those men is done for the sake of reputation. A great good then is true wisdom, and even here3 returns to us a recompense. For he that despises wealth, from this at once reaps advantage,4 being delivered from cares which are superfluous and unprofitable;5 and he that tramples upon glory from this at once receives his reward, being the slave of none, but free with the real freedom; and he that desires heavenly things hence receives his recompense, regarding present things as nothing, and being easily superior to every grief. Behold, for example, how this woman by practicing true wisdom even here received her reward. For when all were sitting by her as she mourned and lamented, she did not wait that the Master should come to her, nor did she maintain what might have seemed her due, nor was she restrained by her sorrow, (for, in addition to the other wretchedness, mourning women have this malady, that they wish to be made much of on account of their case,) but she was not at all so affected; as soon as she heard, she quickly came to Him.6 “Jesus was not yet come into the town.”7 He proceeded somewhat slowly, that He might not seem to fling Himself upon the miracle, but rather to be8 entreated by them. At least, it is either with an intention of implying this that the Evangelist has said the, “riseth up quickly,” or else he showeth that she ran so as to anticipate Christ’s arrival. She came not alone, but drawing after her the Jews that were in the house. Very wisely did her sister call9 her secretly, so as not to disturb those who had come together, and not mention the cause either; for assuredly many would have gone back, but now as though she were going to weep, all followed her. By these means again it is proved 10 that Lazarus was dead.
Jn 11,32. “And she fell at His feet.” 11
She is more ardent than her sister. She regarded not the multitude, nor the suspicion which they had concerning Him, for there were many of His enemies, who said, “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” (Jn 11,37); but cast out all mortal things in the presence of her Master, and was given up to one thing only, the honor of that Master. And what saith she?
“Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
What doth Christ? He converseth not at all with her for the present, nor saith to her what He said to her sister, (for a great multitude was by, and this was no fit time for such words,) He only acteth measurably and condescendeth; and to prove His human nature, weepeth in silence, and deferreth the miracle for the present. For since that miracle was a great one, and such as He seldom wrought, and since many were to believe 12 by means of it, lest to work it without their presence should prove a stumbling-block to the multitude, and so they should gain nothing by its greatness, in order that He might not lose the quarry, 13 He draweth to Him many witnesses by His condescension, and showeth proof of 14 His human nature. He weepeth, and is troubled; for grief is wont to stir up the feelings. Then rebuking those feelings, (for He “groaned 15 in spirit” meaneth, “restrained His trouble,”) He asked,
Jn 11,34. “Where have ye laid him?”
(So that the question might not be attended with lamentation. But why doth He ask? Because He desired not to cast Himself on (the miracle), but to learn all from them, to do all at their invitation, so as to free the miracle from any suspicion.
“They say unto Him, Come and see.”
Jn 11,35. “Jesus wept.”
Seest thou that He had not as yet shown any sign of the raising, and goeth not as if to raise Lazarus, but as if to weep? For the Jews show that He seemed to them to be going to bewail, not to raise him; at least they said,
Jn 11,36-37. “Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?”
Not even amid calamities did they relax their wickedness. Yet what He was about to do was a thing far more wonderful; for to drive away death when it hath come and conquered, is far more than to stay it when coming on. They therefore slander Him by those very points through which they ought to have marveled at His power. They allow for the time that He opened the eyes of the blind, and when they ought to have admired Him on account of that miracle, they, by means of this latter case, cast a slur upon it, as though it had not even taken place. And not from this only are they shown to be all corrupt, but because when He had not yet come, nor exhibited any action, they prevent Him with their accusations without waiting the end of the matter. Seest thou how corrupt was their judgment?
[2.] He cometh then to the tomb; and again 16 rebuketh His feelings. Why doth the Evangelist carefully in several places mention that “He wept,” and that, “He groaned”? 17 That thou mayest learn that He had of a truth put on our nature. For when this Evangelist is remarkable for uttering great things concerning Christ more than the others, in matters relating to the body, here he also speaketh much more humbly than they. 18 For instance, concerning His death he hath said nothing of the kind; the other Evangelists declare that He was exceedingly sorrowful, that He was in an agony; but John, on the contrary, saith, that He even cast the officers backwards. So that he hath made up here what is omitted there, by mentioning His grief. When speaking of His death, Christ saith “I have power to lay down My life”(c. 10,18), and then He uttereth no lowly word; therefore at the Passion they 19 attribute to Him much that is human, to show the reality of the Dispensation. And Matthew proves this by the Agony, the trouble, the trembling, 20 and the sweat; but Jn by His sorrow. For had He not been of our nature, He would not once and again have been mastered by grief. What did Jesus? He made no defense with regard to their charges; for why should He silence by words those who were soon to be silenced by deeds? a means less annoying, and more adapted to shame them.
Jn 11,39. “He saith, Take ye away the stone.”
Why did not He when at a distance summon Lazarus, and place him before their eyes? Or rather, why did He not cause him to arise whilethe stone yet lay on the grave? For He who was able by His voice to move a corpse, and to show it again endowed with life, would much more by that same voice have been able to move a stone; He who empowered by His voice one bound and entangled in the grave-clothes to walk, would much more have been able to move a stone; why then did He not so? In order to make them witnesses of the miracle; that they might not say as they did in the case of the blind man, “It is he,” “It is not he.” For their hands 21 and their coming to the tomb testified that it was indeed he. If they had not come, they might have deemed that they saw a vision, or one man in place of another. But now the coming to the place, the raising the stone, the charge given them to loose the dead man bound in grave-clothes from his bands; the fact that the friends who bore him from the tomb, knew from the grave-clothes 22 that it was he; that his sisters were not left behind; that one of them said, “He now stinketh, for he hath been dead four days”; all these things, I say, were sufficient to silence the ill-disposed, as they were made witnesses of the miracle. On this account He biddeth them take away the stone from the tomb, to show that He raiseth the man. On this account also He asketh, “Where have ye laid him?” that they who said, “Come and see,” and who conducted Him, might not be able to say that He had raised another person; that their voice and their hands might bear witness, (their voice by saying, “Come and see,” their hands by lifting the stone, and loosing the grave-clothes,) as well as their eyes and ears, (the one by hearing His voice, the other by seeing Lazarus come forth,) and their smell also by perceiving the ill-odor, for Martha said, “He now stinketh, for he hath been dead four days.”
Therefore I said with good reason, that the woman did not at all understand Christ’s words, “Though he were dead, yet shall he live.” At least observe, that she speaketh as though the thing were impossible on account of the time which had intervened. For indeed it was a strange thing to raise a corpse which had been dead four days, and was corrupt. To the disciples Jesus said, “That the Son of Man maybe glorified,” referring to Himself; but to the woman, “Thou shalt see the glory of God,” speaking of the Father. Seest thou that the weakness of the hearers is the cause of the difference of the words? He therefore remindeth her of what He had spoken unto her, well nigh rebuking her, as being forgetful. Yet He did not wish at present to confound the spectators, wherefore He saith, 23
Jn 11,40. “Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?”
[3.] A great blessing truly is faith, great, and one which makes great those who hold it rightly with (good) living. 24 By this men (are enabled) to do the things of God in His 25 name. And well did Christ say, 26 “If ye have faith ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove, and it shall remove” (Mt 17,20); anti again, “He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also, and greater works than these shall he do.” (c. xiv. 12. ) What meaneth He by “greater”? Those which the disciples are seen after this to work. For even the shadow of Peter raised a dead man; and so the power of Christ was the more proclaimed. Since it was not so wonderful that He while alive should work miracles, as that when He was dead others should be enabled to work in His name greater than He wrought. This was an indisputable proof of the Resurrection; nor if (that Resurrection) had been seen by all, would it have been equally believed. For men might have said that it was an appearance, but one who saw that by His name alone greater miracles were wrought than when He conversed with men, could not disbelieve unless he were very senseless. A great blessing then is faith when it arises from glowing feelings, great love, 27 and a fervent soul; it makes us truly wise, it hides our human meanness, and leaving reasonings beneath, it philosophizes about things in heaven; or rather what the wisdom of men cannot discover, 28 it abundantly comprehends and succeeds in. Let us then cling to this, and not commit to reasonings 29 what concerns ourselves. For tell me, why have not the Greeks been able to find out anything? Did they not know all the wisdom of the heathen? 30 Why then could they not prevail against fishermen and tentmakers, and unlearned persons? Was it not because the one committed all to argument, the others to faith? and so these last were victorious over Plato and Pythagoras, in short, over all that had gone astray; and they surpass those whose lives had been worn out in 31 astrology and geometry, mathematics and arithmetic, and who had been thoroughly instructed in 32 every sort of learning, and 33 were as much superior to them as true and real philosophers are superior to those who are by nature foolish and out of their senses. 34 For observe, these men asserted that the soul was immortal, or rather, they did not merely assert this, but persuaded others of it. The Greeks, on the contrary, did not at first know what manner of thing the soul was, and when they had found out, and had distinguished it from the body, they were again in the same case, the one asserting that it was incorporeal, the other that it was corporeal and was dissolved with the body. Concerning heaven again, the one said that it had life and was a god, but the fishermen both taught and persuaded that it wasthe work and device 35 of God. Now that theGreeks should use reasonings is nothing wonderful, but that those who seem to be believers, that “they” should be found carnal, 36 this is what mayjustly be lamented. 37 And on this account they have gone astray, some saying that they know God as He knoweth Himself, a thing which not even any of those Greeks have dared to assert; others that God cannot beget without passion, not even allowing Him any superiority over men; 38 others again, that a righteous life and exact 39 conversation avail nothing. But it is not the time to refute these things now). [4.] Yet that a right faith availeth nothing if the life be corrupt, both Christ and Paul declare, having taken the more care for this latter part; Christ when He teacheth, 40 “Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 7,21); and again, “Many will say unto Me in that day, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? And I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity” 41 (Mt 22,23); (for they who take not heed to themselves, easily slip away 42 into wickedness, even though they have a right faith;) and Paul, when in his letter to the Hebrews he thus speaks and exhorts them; “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (He 12,14). By “holiness,” meaning chastity, so that it behooved each to be content with his own wife, and not have to do with 43 any other woman; for it is impossible that one not so contented should be saved; he must assuredly perish though he have ten thousand right actions, since with fornication it is impossible to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Or rather, this is henceforth 44 not fornication but adultery; for as a woman who is bound to a man, if she come together with 45 another man, then hath committed adultery, so he that is bound to a woman, if he have another, hath committed adultery. Such an one shall not inherit the kingdom of heaven, but shall fall into the pit. Hear what Christ saith concerning these, 46 “Their worm shall not die, 47 and the fire shall not be quenched.” (Mc 9,44). For he can have no pardon, who after (possessing) a wife, and the comfort of a wife, then acts shamelessly towards another woman; since this is henceforth wantonness. 48 And if the many abstain even from their wives when it be a season of fast or prayer, how great a fire doth he heap up for himself who is not even content with his wife, but mingleth with another; and if it is not permitted one who has put away and cast out his own wife to mingle with another, (for this is adultery,) how great evil doth he commit who, while his wife is in his house, brings in another. Let no one then allow this malady to dwell in his soul; let him tear it up by the root. He doth not so much wrong his wife as himself. For so grievous and unpardonable is this offense, that if a woman separate herself from a husband which is an idolater without his consent, God punisheth her; but if she separate herself from a fornicator, not so. Seest thou how great an evil this is? “If,” It saith, “any faithful woman have 49 a husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.” (1Co 7,13). Not so concerning a harlot; but what? “If any man 50 put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, he causeth her to commit adultery.” (Mt 5,32). For if the coming together maketh one body, he who cometh together with a harlot must needs become one body with her. How then shall the modest woman, being a member of Christ, receive such an one, or how shall she join to herself the member of an harlot. And observe the excess of the one (fornication) over the other (idolatry). The woman who dwelleth with an unbeliever is not impure; (“for,” It saith, “the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife”—1Co 6,15;) not so with the harlot; but what? “Shall I then make the members of Christ the members of an harlot?” In the one case sanctification remains, and is not removed though the unbeliever dwelleth with his wife; but in the other case it departeth. A dreadful, a dreadful thing is fornication, and an agent for 51 everlasting punishment; and even in this world it brings with it ten thousand woes. The man so guilty is forced to lead a life of anxiety and toil; he is nothing better off than those who are under punishment, creeping 52 into another man’s house with fear and much trembling, suspecting all alike 53 both slave and free. Wherefore I exhort you to be 54 freed from this malady, and if you obey 55 not, step not on the sacred threshold. 56 Sheep that are covered with the scab, and full of disease, may not herd with those that are in health; we must drive them from the fold until they get rid of the malady. We have been made members of Christ; let us not, I entreat, become members of an harlot. This place is not a brothel but a church; if then thou hast the members of an harlot, stand not in the church, lest thou insult the place. If there were no hell, if there were no punishment, yet, after those contracts, those marriage torches, the lawful bed, the procreation of children, the intercourse, how couldest thou bear to join 57 thyself to another? How is it that thou art not ashamed nor blushest? Knowest thou not that they who after the death of their own wife, introduce another into their own house, are blamed by many? yet this action hath no penalty attached to it: but thou bringest in another while thy wife is yet alive. What lustfulness is this! Learn what hath been spoken concerning such men, “Their worm,” It saith, “shall not die, and the fire shall not be quenched.” (Mc 9,44). Shudder at the threat, dread the vengeance. The pleasure here is not so great as the punishment there, but may it not came to pass that any one (here) become liable to that punishment, but that exercising holiness they may see Christ, and obtain the promised good things, which may we all enjoy, through the grace and lovingkindness of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost be glory, for ever and ever. Amen).
1 “Being High Priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation,” ver. 52, “and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” G. T.
2 De Bell. Jud. 50,6, 31). “During the Festival called Pentecost, the Priests having come by night into the Inner temple to perform their services, as was their custom, reported that they perceived a motion and noise, and after that a voice as of a multitude, Let us depart hence.”
3 pavnta ejgivneto.
5 al). “and.”
6 “they,” N. T.
7 Ver. 54). “Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples.” 55). “And the Jews’ Passover was nigh at hand.” N. T).
8 i.e. the disciples.
9 (Lc 22,28). “Ye are they which have continued with Me in My temptations.”
11 Ver. 55–57). “And many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves as they stood in the Temple, What think ye, that He will not come to the feast? Now both the Chief Priests and Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where He were, he should show it, that they might take Him.” N. T.
12 al). “wish.”
13 Ch. 12,ver. 1, 2). “Then Jesus, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper, and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.” N. T.
15 Ver. 3–6). “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair: and the whole house was filled with the odor of the ointment. Then saith one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray Him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.”
16 These words are from St. Matthew or St. Mark. In St. Jn we read, ver. 7, “Then said Jesus, Let her alone, against the day of My burying hath she kept this.”
18 i.e. the betrayal).
19 “kept,” N. T.
20 al). “nor will the expression check.”
21 “For the poor always ye have with you, but Me,” &c., N. ’I’.
22 or, “bent.”
24 tou;" peri;.
25 al). “as one the graven image of stone, so thou,” &c.
26 i.e. in itself).
Chrysostom on John 62