The omission of the resurrection of Lazarus in the Synoptics is the most difficult fact to explain. It is not enough to say that the miracle took place in Judea; for at the time when it occurred the Synoptics present the Lord to us as sojourning in Perea and in the southern districts. We have only one explanation: tradition remained silent with respect to this fact through consideration for Lazarus and his two sisters. This family lived within a stone's throw of Jerusalem and was thus exposed to the hostile stroke of the Sanhedrin. We read in John xii. 10 that "the chief priests took counsel that they might put Lazarus also to death" together with Jesus, because of the influence which the sight of this man who had been raised from the dead was exerting upon the numerous pilgrims arriving at the capital. The case might have been precisely the same after the day of Pentecost; and it is probable that it was found prudent, for this reason, to pass over this fact in silence in the traditional Gospel story. Either the names of Martha and Mary, in the story of the anointing (see Mark and Matthew), or the name of Bethany, when the two sisters were designated by their names (see the account of Luke x. 38), were likewise omitted. It was, undoubtedly, for a similar reason that, in the account of the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane, the name of the disciple who drew the sword was suppressed in the tradition (see the three Synoptical narratives),  while it is mentioned without scruple by John, who wrote at a time when no harm could any longer come to Peter from this precise indication. Objection is made, it is true, that the Synoptic narratives were drawn up after the death of Peter, and after that of the members of the Bethany family; to what purpose, then, these precautions (see Meyer)? But we too, do not, by any means, ascribe these precautions to the authors of these works; we ascribe them to the Gospel tradition, formed at Jerusalem from the days which followed the day of Pentecost. We see from the account of the ill treatment to which the Sanhedrin subjected the apostles, from the martyrdom of Stephen and of James, and from the persecutions of which Saul became the instrument, that, at that time, the power of the enemies of Jesus was still unimpaired, and that it was exercised in the most violent manner. Their hatred went on increasing with the progress of the Church; and there must have been an apprehension, that if anyone should put publicly on the scene those who had played a part in that history, he would make them pay very dearly for such an honor. John, who composed his work at a time when there was no longer any Sanhedrin or Jewish people or temple, and who wrote under the sway, not of tradition, but of his own recollections, could, without fear, re-establish the facts in their integrity. This is the reason why he designated Peter as the author of the blow which was given in the scene in Gethsemane, while at the same time, at the suggestion of this name, he calls to mind that of Malchus, the one who was injured; this is the reason why he gives himself up to the happiness of tracing in all its details the wonderful scene of the resurrection of Lazarus.

 

from pages 89-90, Commentary on John's Gospel