<< John XI: The Raising of Lazarus >>
REMEMBER the little village on the sunny slope of the Mount of Olives. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho led over the hill, and about two miles from the city passed near the little town with its orchards. You remember how the Lord once came to Bethany to the house of Mary and Martha. They both loved the Lord and He loved them. And they had a brolher Lazarus who was dear to the Lord. By and by we shall learn of the Lord's coming again to Bethany, and how they made Him a supper, and Martha served, and Lazarus reclined at the table, and Mary anointed the Lord's head and feet with costly ointment.
But now Lazarus was sick. In their distress the sisters sent to Jesus. The messengers went down the road to Jericho, and across the Jordan to where the Lord was teaching in that eastern country, and told Him, "Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick." Still the Lord did not come, and Lazarus died. The burial was in a cave, and it is interesting to learn about it, for it was in such a sepulchre by and by that the body of the Lord was laid. A sort of porch-way was cut in the rocky hill-side. From this a low door led to a chamber where there was a rest for the body, or niches in the walls where a number of bodies could be laid. The door of the chamber was closed by a wheel-shaped stone rolled across the opening. The body of Lazarus was carried to such a cave by weeping friends, perhaps with hired mourners ; and many friends from Jerusalem came to comfort the sisters in their sadness.
Four more days had passed, when word was brought to Martha that the Lord had come. He knew that Lazarus had died, but He did not call it death; He called it sleep. The Lord and the disciples with Him, had crossed the broad meadows of the Jordan, passed Jericho, and climbed the steep road into the hills. As they drew near to Bethany, Martha came to meet the Lord. Afterwards Mary came. As we read the story we shall learn what the Lord said, and what He did.
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, 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. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 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 in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, 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? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
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.---John XI. 1-46.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The Lord's miracles of raising from the dead >> The raising from the spiritual death of a false and evil state
Lazarus had lain in the grave four days >> A state that is confirmed in falsity and evil
The cave in which Lazarus was laid >> The darkness and oppression of the evil state
The stone that closed the door >> Denial that any rising to a higher state is possible
The sisters' going to the Lord outside the town >>The need of effort on our part to come out of a state of grief and to find the Lord's comfort
The Lord's meeting the sisters there >> His desire to draw us out of a sad, despondent state into a state that is freer and more receptive of comfort
Martha's first rising and afterwards calling her sister Mary >> Doing the simple external duties for the Lord's sake opens the way for a deeper sense of His love and comfort
Taking away of the stone >> The belief in the Lord’s power to help
The grave clothes >> The habits of thought and life belonging to the evil state
Bound hand and foot with grave clothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin >> The evil habits prevent the doing of good uses and the enjoying and expressing of heavenly affections
"Loose him, and let him go," >> cast off the habits of thought and conduct which hinder the exercise of heavenly life from the Lord
"I am the resurrection and the life," >> The Lord alone has power to lift us up from states of spiritual death, and to give new spiritual life which continues after death into the eternity of heaven
Pictures: James Tissot ----Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum