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festival of no divine origin, but instituted by Judas Maccabeus *, upon his cleansing the temple, and dedicating it anew, after its holy places had been profaned and plundered by † Antiochus Epiphanes the king of Syria. Our Saviour's attend. ance upon this occasion has justly been considered as a tacit approbation of the authority assumed by the rulers of the state in all ages, to set apart certain days for the more solemn service of God. But this, as a prudent author has observed, must be done sparingly, moderately, discreetly, and cautiously.
Ver. 27. The true disciples of Christ are such as believe in him, and obey his precepts. Had the Jews been properly disposed to admit the truth, they had evidence sufficient to convince them by the works which he did in his Father's name. Το his true disciples Jesus then renews his promise of eternal life, a promise which he was abundantly able to fulfil, inasmuch as God, who is Almighty, had given him the power. For Christ and the Father are one; not one person but one thing, actuated by the same will, for the accomplishment of the same purposes, agreeably to the predetermination of God. When the Jews therefore would have stoned him for making himself a God, he reminded them that their own Scriptures had called the judges and rulers of the people, unto whom the word of God came, “ Gods and children of the Most High *.” Again, he refers them to his miracles for the proof of his being “sanctified and sent into the world by the Father.” And when they would have apprehended him, he escaped out of their hands, and went away beyond the river Jordan, into the parts where John had formerly baptized. There people continued to resort to him; and many, convinced both by the miracles which he wrought, and by the testimony which John had born to him, believed him to be the Messiah.
2 Macc. x. 8.
of Ibid. v. 16. and vi. 4. Jortin vol. iv, Serm. 15.
THE situation of Bethany has already been described. That it should here be designated as “ the town of Mary and her sister Martha,” could, I suppose, only arise from some notoriety attached • Psal. Ixxxii, 6.
+ Chap. i. 29, &c.
to these persons.
And from the verse which follows, describing Mary to be her “who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair," it may be concluded that this was the circumstance which particularly distinguished her. Nor is this surprising, if we consider it, as it is expressly declared to be, immediately connected with the great event of our Saviour's death; “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for
burial *." Hence her name may probably have been transmitted with honor to succeeding generations of Christians; especially as Jesus foretold that “wherever the Gospel should be preached in the whole world, there should also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her t." Mary appears to have been a common appellation among the Jews. Several persons of this name occur in the Gospels; whence it became necessary to discriminate them by some addition, as Mary the mother of Jesus, the wife of Cleophas, the Magdalene, &c. and in this instance the Apostle has thought fit to specify that Mary, who bare a part in the transactions of the eleventh chapter, by the circumstance from which she was afterwards best known; though
* Matt. xxvi, 12.
+ Ibid. xxvi. 13. and Mark xiv. 9.
the anointing had not yet taken place at the time when Lazarus was raised from the grave.
After the many miraculous cures which Jesus had performed, it was very natural for the sisters of Lazarus, with whose family he appears to have lived in great friendship, to inform him of their brother's illness, with the hope that in him also might be exhibited an instance of his healing power. And so indeed there was, but in a manner far more conspicuous than his sisters had contemplated. When therefore Jesus says, sickness is not unto death,” he did not mean that Lazarus would not die; but that he would not continue in a state of death. Accordingly we find him delaying his journey towards Bethany till Lazarus had expired. Then he determined to go again into Judea, to make this signal display of his Lordship over life and death, not for his own glory, but “to the intent that all might be. lieve.” His disciples were afraid of his exposing himself again to the persecution of his enemies by approaching so near to Jerusalem ; but he tells them that he knew well what he was doing ; for as one, who walketh in the light, stumbleth not; so he, by his clear * knowledge of the divine dis
* Such a metaphorical use of the word “light” is familiar to
pensations, foresaw that he might go up with im. punity. How natural is the mistake of his disci. ples, when he said to them, that “ Lazarus sleepeth.” But he presently put them out of all doubt by telling them plainly that he was dead. Thomas, though his apprehensions of danger continued unremoved, yet with a generous warmth of zeal proposes to his fellow disciples that they should go up with him, and share the dangers of their Lord. Lazarus had already been four days in the grave, when Jesus and his disciples arrived. Martha was the first of the sisters who heard of his approach ; and she went out to meet him, saying, “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Then she goes on, I know that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.” This is not to be understood as implying that Martha entertained any hope of receiving her brother again from the grave; a sense which is contradicted by the whole tenor of the subsequent discourse. Her meaning is, “ But yet my faith is unshaken ; and though
St. John, or (may we say?) to Jesus, who asserts (chap. xii. 35.) περιπατειτε έως το φως εχετε. And again (chap. xii. 46.) εγω φως εις τον κοσμον εληλυθα. Hence St. John may probably have adopted the same expression, ó OcOS AWS EOTL. (1 John i. 5.)