And it came to pass in those days, that she was sick, and died: whom when they had washed, they laid her in an upper chamber.
~ Acts 9:37
And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
~ Luke 7:37-38
And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
~ Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:7-8
But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
~ Psalm 16:3
Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
~ John 11:40
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?
~ Hebrews 12:6-7
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
~ Revelation 3:19
For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.
~ Philippians 2:26-27
Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.
~ James 5:14-15, 1 Peter 1:21
Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.
~ John 12:28
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
~ John 11:25
Bethany. A Series of Sermons on Lazarus from John 11:1-4, by Robert Murray M’Cheyne.
Bethany. Part 1.
“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.”—John xi. 1-4.
“ Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” Sickness goes round-it spares no family, rich or poor. Sometimes the young, sometimes the old, sometimes those in the strength of their days, are laid down on the bed of sickness. “ Remember those that suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.”
The reasons why God sends sickness are very various:
1. In some it is sent for the conversion of the soul. Sometimes in health the Word does not touch the heart. The world is all. Its gaieties, its pleasures, its admiration, captivate your mind. God sometimes draws you aside into a sick-bed, and shows you the sin of your heart, the vanity of worldly pleasures, and drives the soul to seek a sure resting place for eternity in Christ. O happy sickness, that draws the soul to Jesus! Job xxxii.; Ps.cvii.
2. Sometimes it is for the conversion of friends. When the Covenanters went out to battle, they kneeled down on the field and prayed; and this was one of their prayers: “Lord, take the ripe, and spare the green.” God sometimes does this in families. He cuts down the praying child, the child that was half ridiculed, half wondered at, that the rest may think, and turn, and pray. 3. Sometimes it is a frown of judgment. When worldly people go long on in a course of sin, against the light of the Bible and the warnings of ministers, God sometimes frowns upon them, and they wither suddenly. “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”—Prov. xxix. 1. “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.”—1 Cor. xi. 30. 4. Another – case is now before us—that of a child of God sick, that Christ might be glorified in him.
I. The case—the person: “ A certain man was sick, named Lazarus.”
Lazarus was evidently a child of God, and yet Lazarus was sick. How he had come by his grace we are not told. His name is not mentioned before. If we may be allowed to guess, it seems probable that Mary was the first in the family who knew the Lord (Luke x.); then perhaps Martha left her ” much serving” to come also and sit at Jesus’ feet; and both prevailed on their brother Lazarus to come also. At all events he was a child of God. He was in a godly family. All the house were children of God—one in nature and one in grace. Happy family at Bethany, going hand in hand to glory! Yet here the hand of sickness entered in-Lazarus was sick. He was peculiarly loved by Christ: “ He whom thou lovest.” _Verse 3. – Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.”—Verse 5. “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth.”—Verse 11. Like John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, so Jesus had a peculiar love for Lazarus. I cannot tell you why. He was a sinner, like other men; but perhaps when Jesus washed and renewed him, he gave him more of his own likeness than other believers. One thing is certain—Jesus loved him, and yet Lazarus was sick.
1. Learn not to judge others because of affliction. Job’s three friends tried to show Job that he must be a hypocrite and a bad man, because God afflicted him. They did not know that God afflicts his own dear children. Lazarus was sick; and the beggar Lazarus was full of sores; and Hezekiah was sick, even unto death; and yet all were peculiarly dear to Jesus.
2. God’s children should not doubt his love when he afflicts. Christ loved Lazarus peculiarly, and yet he afflicted him very sore. A surgeon never bends his eye so tenderly upon his patient, as when he is putting in the lancet, or probing the wound to the very bottom. And so with Christ; he bends his eye most tenderly over his own at the time he is afflicting them. Do not doubt the holy love of Jesus to your soul when he is laying a heavy hand upon you. Jesus did not love Lazarus less when he afflicted him, but rather more—“even as a father correcteth a son in whom he delighteth.”—Prov. iii. 12. A goldsmith when he casts gold into the furnace looks after it.
II. The place: “Of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.”
Bethany is a sweet retired village, about two miles from Jerusalem, in a ravine at the back of the Mount of Olives. It is at this day embosomed in fig trees, and almond trees, and pomegranates. But it had a greater loveliness still in the eyes of Christ-it was “the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” Probably the worldly people in Jerusalem knew Bethany by its being the town of some rich Pharisee who had his country villa there—or some luxurious noble, who called the lands after his own name; but Jesus knew it only as “the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” Probably they lived in a humble cottage, under the shade of a fig tree; but that cottage was dear to Christ. Often, as he came over the Mount of Olives and drew near, the light in that cottage window gladdened his heart. Often he sat beneath their fig tree telling them the things of the kingdom of God. His Father loved that dwelling; for these were justified ones. And angels knew it well; for night and day they ministered there to three heirs of salvation. No wonder he called the place “the town of Mary and her sister Martha”—that was its name in heaven.
So is it still. When worldly people think of our town, they call it the town of some rich merchant–some leading man in public matters—some great politician, who makes a dash as a friend of the people; or the town near which some wealthy nobleman dwelleth: but in heaven our town is known as the town of our Marthas and Marys. Perhaps some poor garret where an eminent child of God dwells, gives this town its name and interest in the presence of Jesus.
Dear believers, how great the love of Christ is to you! He knows the town where you live—the house where you dwell the room where you pray. Often he stands at the door-often he puts in his hand at the hole of the door: “I have graven thee on the palms of my hands: thy walls are continually before me.” Like a bridegroom loving the place where his bride dwells, so Christ often says: There they dwell for whom I died. Learn to be like Christ in this. When a merchant looks at a map of the world, his eye turns to those places where his ships are sailing; when a soldier, he looks to the traces of ancient battle-fields and fortified towns; but a believer should be like Jesus—he should love the spots where believers dwell.
III. The message.
1. They “ sent unto him.” This seems to have been their very first recourse when the sickness came on—“his sisters sent unto Jesus.” They did not think a bodily trouble beneath his notice. True, he had taught them that “one thing was needful,” and Mary had chosen that good part which could not be taken from her; yet they knew well that Jesus did not despise the body. They knew that he had a heart to bleed for every kind of grief; and therefore they sent to tell Jesus. This is what you should do: Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.”–Ps. I. 15. Remember there is no grief too great to carry to him, and none too small: “In everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known unto God”-_“ Cast thy burden on the Lord.” Whatever it be, take it to Jesus. Some trust Christ with their soul, but not with their body-with their salvation, but not with their health. He loves to be sent for in our smallest troubles.
2. The argument: “He whom thou lovest is sick.” Ifa worldly person had been sending to Christ, he would have sent a very different argument. He would have said: He who loves thee is sick. Here is one that has believed on thy name. Here is one that has confessed thee before the world-suffered reproach and scorn for thy sake. Martha and Mary knew better how to plead with Jesus. Their only argument was in Jesus’ breast: “ He whom thou lovest is sick.”
(1.) He loved him with an electing love. Freely from all eternity Jesus loved him.
(2.) With a drawing love. He drew him from under wrath–from serving sin.
(3.) With a pardoning love. He drew him to himself, and blotted out all his sin.
(4.) With an upholding love. ” Who could hold me up but thou?” He for whom thou diedst—he whom thou hast chosen, washed, and kept till now be whom thou lovest is sick.”
Learn thus to plead with Christ, dear believers. Often you do not receive, because you do not ask aright: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Often you ask proudly, as if you were somebody; so that if Christ were to grant it, he would only be fattening your lusts. Learn to lie in the dust, and plead only his own free love. Thou hast loved me for no good thing in me:
“Chosen, not for good in me; Wakened up from wrath to flee; Hidden in the Saviour’s side; by the Spirit sanctified.” Do not deny thy love. “ Have respect unto the work of thine own hands.”
3. A holy delicacy in prayer. They lay the object at his feet, and leave it there. They do not say: Come and heal him; come quickly, Lord. They know his love-they believe his wisdom. They leave the case in his hands: “ Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick.” “ They cast them down at Jesus’ feet, and he healed them.”–Matt. xv. 30. They did not plead, but let their misery plead for them. “Let your requests be made known unto God.” -Phil. iv. 6.
Learn that urgency in prayer does not so much consist in vehement pleading as in vehement believing. He that believes most the love and power of Jesus, will obtain most in prayer. Indeed the Bible does not forbid you using all arguments, and asking for express gifts, such as healing for sick friends. “My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live.”—Mark v. 23. “ Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” Matt. viii. 8. Still there is a holy delicacy in prayer, which some believers know how to use. Like these two sisters, lay the object at his feet, saying: “ Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick.”
IV. The answer.
1. A word of promise: “ This sickness is not unto death.” This was an immediate answer to prayer. He did not come he did not heal; but he sent them a word enough to make them happy: “ This sickness is not unto death.” Away the messenger ran, crossed the Jordan, and before sunset perhaps he enters breathless the village of Bethany. With anxious faces the sisters run out to hear what news of Jesus. Good news! “ This sickness is not unto death.” Sweet promise!–the hearts of the sisters are comforted, and no doubt they tell their joy to the dying man. But he gets weaker and weaker; and as they look through their tears at his pale cheek, they begin almost to waver in their faith. But Jesus said it, and Jesus cannot lie: if it were not so he would have told us. “This sickness is not unto death.” At last Lazarus breathes his latest sigh besides his weeping sisters. His eye is dim–his cheek is cold–he is dead; and yet Jesus said: “ Not unto death!” The friends assemble, to carry the body to the rocky sepulchre; and as the sisters turn away from the tomb, their faith dies—their hearts sink into utter gloom. What could he mean by saying: “not unto death?”
Learn to trust to Christ’s word, whatever sight may say. We live in dark times. Every day the clouds are becoming heavier and more lowering. The enemies of the Sabbath are raging. The enemies of our Church are becoming more desperate. The cause of Christ is everywhere threatened. But we have a sweet word of promise: “ This sickness is not unto death.” Darker times are coming yet—the clouds will break and deluge Scotland soon with a flood of infidelity, and many will be like Mary_heartbroken. Has the Lord’s word failed? No, never! “ This sickness is not unto death.” The dry bones of Israel shall. live. Popery shall sink like a mill-stone-widowhood and loss of children shall come to her in one day. The kings of Tarshish and the isles will bow their knee to Jesus. Jesus shall reign till all his enemies are put under his feet, and the whole world shall soon enjoy a real Sabbath.
2. The explanation: “But for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” Some might ask, Why, then, was Lazarus sick?
Answer: “ For the glory of God.” Christ was thereby in an eminent manner made known.
(1.) His amazing love to his own was seen, when he wept at the grave.
(2.) His power to raise the dead. He was shown to be the resurrection and the life when he cried, “ Lazarus, come forth.” Christ was more glorified far than if Lazarus had not been sick and died.
(1.) So in all the sufferings of God’s people. Sometimes a child of God says: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? I will teach-preach-do great things for thee. Sometimes the answer is: Thou shalt suffer for my sake.
(2.) It shows the power of Christ’s blood–when it gives peace in an hour of trouble—when it can make happy in sickness, poverty, persecution, and death. Do not be surprised if you suffer, but glorify God. (3.) It brings out graces that cannot be seen in a time of health. It is the treading of the grapes that brings out the sweet juices of the vine; so it is affliction that draws forth submission, weanedness from the world, and complete rest in God. Use afflictions while you have them.
Bethany. Part II.
Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard there
fore 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 Judea 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.”_ John xi. 5–10.
I. Jesus’ love: “ Jesus loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus.”
1. These are the words of John. He knew what was in the heart of Christ, for the Holy Spirit taught him what to write, and he leaned upon Jesus’ bosom, and knew the deepest secrets of Jesus’ heart. This, then, is John’s testimony; “ Jesus loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus.” You remember they had sent this message to Jesus: “He whom thou lovest is sick.” Some would have said, That was a presumptuous message to send. How did they know that Lazarus was really converted!–that Jesus really loved him? But here you see John puts his seal upon their testimony. It was really true, and no presumption in it: “ Jesus loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus.”
How is it saints know when Jesus loves them? Ans. Christ has ways of telling his own love peculiar to himself. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” How ridiculous is it to think that Christ cannot make known his love to the soul! I shall mention one way–By drawing the soul to himself: “ Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” –Jer. xxxi. 3. “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness; yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine.”—Ezek. xvi. 8. “ No man can come unto me except the Father draw him.”–John vi. 44. Now when the Lord Jesus draws near to a dead, carnal sinner, and reveals to him a glimpse of his own beauty-of his face fairer than the sons of men–of his precious blood—of the room that there is under his wings; and when the soul is drawn away from its old sins, old ways–away from its deadness, darkness, and worldliness, and is persuaded to forsake all, and flow toward the Lord Jesus–then that soul is made to taste the peace of believing, and is made to know that Jesus loves him. Thus Lazarus knew that Christ loved him. I was a worldly, careless man-I mocked at my sisters when they were so careful to entertain the Lamb of God I often was angry with them; but one day he came and showed me such an excellence in the way of salvation by him-he drew me, and now I know that Jesus has loved me.
Do you know that Christ loves you? Have you this love token, that he has drawn you to leave all and follow him–to leave your self-righteousness, to leave your sins, to leave your worldly companions for Christ to let all go that interferes with Christ? then you have a good token that he has loved you.
2. Jesus loved all the house. It seems highly probable that there was a great difference among the family–some of them were much more enlightened than others–some were much nearer Christ and some much more like Christ, than others; yet Jesus loved them all. It would seem that Mary was the most heavenly-minded of the family. Probably she was brought first to know and love the Lord Jesus Christ. She sat at the feet of Christ when Martha was cumbered about much serving. She was also evidently more humbled under this trying dispensation than her sister was; for it is said: “She fell down at his feet.” She seems also to have been filled with livelier gratitude; for it was she that took a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Christ, and wiped his feet with her hair. She is a believer–very full of love, and of a teachable, meek, quiet spirit. And yet Jesus loved them all – Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. Every one that is in Christ is beloved by Christ even weak members.
Good news for weak disciples. You are very apt to say: I am not a Paul, nor a John, nor a Mary; I fear Jesus will not care for me. Ans. He loved Martha, and Mary, and Lazarus. He loves the weakest of those for whom he died. Just as a mother loves all her children, even those that are weak and sickly; so Christ cares for those who are weak in the faith—who have many doubts and fears–who have heavy burdens and temptations.
Be like Christ in this. “ Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations”—“ We that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.”_ Rom. xiv. 1, xv. 1. There is much of an opposite spirit, I fear, amongst us. I fear that you love our Marys, and Pauls, and Johns—you highly esteem those that are evidently pillars; but can you condescend to men of low estate? Learn to stoop low, and to be gentle and kind to the feeble. Do not speak evil of them, do not make their blemishes the subject of your common talk. Cover their faults. Assist them by counsel, and pray for them.
II. Christ’s delay: “ When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.”
Here seems a contradiction-Jesus loved them, and yet abode two days. You would have expected the very reverse: Jesus loved them, and therefore made no delay, but hastened to Bethany. This is the way with man’s love. Human love will not brook delay. When you love any one tenderly, and hear that they are sick, you run to see them, and to help them. These were two important days in the cottage of Bethany. The messenger had returned, saying: “ This sickness is not unto death.” They knew that Jesus loved them, and loved their brother tenderly; and therefore they expected him to come every hour. Martha, perhaps, would begin to be uneasy, saying, Why does he tarry? why is he so long in coming? can anything have kept him? Do not fret, Mary would say. You know that he loves Lazarus, and he loves us; and you know he is true, and he said: “ This sickness is not unto death.” The dying man grew weaker, and at length breathed his last sigh into their affectionate bosoms. Both the sisters were overwhelmed: He loved us, and yet he tarried two days. So with the woman of Syrophenicia.
Such are Christ’s dealings with his own still. Although he loves, he sometimes on that very account tarries. Do not be surprised, and do not fret.
Reasons of delay:
1. Because he is God. He sees the end from the beginning. Known unto him are all his works from the foundation of the world. Although absent in the body, he was present in the sick man’s room at Bethany. He saw every change on his pale features, and heard every gentle sigh. Every tear that stole down the cheek of Mary he observed, put into his bottle, and wrote in his book. He saw when Lazarus died. But the future was be. fore him also. He knew what he would do—that the grave would yield up its dead, and that he would soon turn their weeping into songs of rejoicing. Therefore he stayed where he was, just because he was God. So, when Christ delays to help his saints now, you think this is a great mystery-you cannot explain it; but Jesus sees the end from the beginning. Be still, and know that Christ is God.
2. To increase their faith. First of all he gave them out a promise to hold by. He sent word by their messenger: “This sickness is not unto death.” This was an easy and simple word for them to hold by; but, ah! it was sorely tried. When he got worse and worse, they clung to the promise with a trembling heart; when he died, their faith died too. They knew not what to think. And yet Christ’s word was true, and thus their faith was increased ever after. They were taught to believe the word of Christ, even when all outward circumstances were against them. So Matt. viii. 18. One evening Christ gave commandment on the Sea of Galilee to depart to “ the other side;” and as they sailed he fell asleep. Here was a simple word of promise to hold by in the storm. But when the storm came down, and the waves covered the ship, they cried, “ Master, save us; we perish.” And he said: “Where is your faith?” By that trial the faith of the disciples was greatly increased ever after.
So it is with all trials of faith. When God gives a promise, he always tries our faith. Just as the roots of trees take firmer hold when they are contending with the wind; so faith takes firmer hold when it struggles with adverse appearances.
3. To make his help shine brighter. Had Christ come at the first and healed their brother, we never would have known the love that showed itself at the grave of Lazarus—we never would have known the power of the great Redeemer in raising up from the grave. These bright forth shinings of the glory of Christ would have been lost to the Church and to the world. Therefore it was good that he stayed away for two days. Thus the honour of his name was spread far and wide. The Son of God was glorified. “This people have I formed for myself; they shall show forth my praise. This is God’s great end in all his dealings with his people–that he may be seen. For this reason he destroyed the Egyptians: “ That the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.”
If Christ seems to tarry past the time he promised, wait for him; for he will come, and will not tarry. He has good reason for it, whether you can see it or not. And never forget he loves, even when he tarries. He loved the Syrophenician even when he answered her not a word.
III. Christ’s determination: “ After that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again.”
1. The time: “ After that.” After the two days were over. Christ waits a certain time without helping his own, but no longer. Christ waits a certain time with the wicked before destroying them. He waited till the cup of the Amorites was full, before he destroyed them. He waited on the fig tree a certain time. If it does not bear fruit, then, “after that thou shalt cut it down.” Oh, wicked man! you have a certain measure to fill when that is filled, you will sink immediately into hell. When the sand has run, you will be cast away. So Christ has his set time for coming to his own. “ After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight.”— Hos. vi. 2.
(1.) In conversion: “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.”_-1 Pet. v. 6. When God awakens a soul by the mighty power of his Spirit, he takes his own time and way of bringing the soul to peace. Often the sinner thinks it very hard that Christ should be so long of coming; often he begins to despair, and to think there is something peculiar in his case. Remember! wait on the Lord. It is good to wait for Christ.
(2.) In answering prayer. When we ask for something agreeable to God’s will, and in the name of Christ. we know that we have the petitions which we desire of him. But the time he keeps in his own power. God is very sovereign in the time of his answers. When Martha and Mary sent their petition to Christ, he gave them an immediate promise; but the answer was not when they expected. So Christ frequently gives us the desires of our heart, though not at the peculiar time we desired, but at a better time. Do not be weary in putting up prayers—say for the conversion of a friend. They may be answered when you are in the not weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
(3.) In his own second glorious coming. Christ said to the Church long ago: ” Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” And still the time is prolonged. The Bridegroom seems to tarry; but he will come at the due time. He waits for infinitely wise reasons; and the moment that he should come, the heavens shall open, and he will appear.
2. The objection. The objection was, that it was dangerous to him and to them, because the Jews had sought to stone him before. Another time Peter made objection to Christ, saying: “ Be it far from thee, Lord. This shall not be unto thee. But he turned and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me, for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” How selfish are even godly men!
The disciples did not care for the distress of Martha and Mary. They did not care for the pain of their friend Lazarus. They were afraid of being stoned, and that made them forget the case of the afflicted family. There is no root deeper in the bosom than selfishness. Watch and pray against it. Even the godly will sometimes oppose you in what is good and right. Here, when Christ proposed that they should go into Judea again, the disciples opposed it. They were astonished at such a proposal. They, as it were, reproved him for it. Think it not strange, dear brethren, if you are opposed by those who are children of God, especially if it be something in which you are called to suffer.
3. Christ’s answer. The path of duty Christ here compares to walking in the day-light. “If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not.” As long as a man has got a good conscience, and the smile and presence of God. he is like one walking in the daytime; he plants his foot firmly and boldly forward. But if a man shrink from the call of God, through fear of man, and at the call of worldly prudence, he is like one walking in darkness: “He stumbleth, because there is no light.”
Oh, that you who are believers would be persuaded to follow Jesus fearlessly wherever he calls you! If you are a believer, you will often be tempted to shrink back. The path of a Christian is narrow, and often difficult. But what have you to fear? Have you the blood of Christ upon your conscience, and the presence of God with your soul? Are there not twelve hours in the day? Are we not all immortal till our work is done?
Bethany. Part III. (The following contains an excerpt.)
” 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 fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.”—John xi. 11-16.
I. Christ’s love to a dead Lazarus.
1. He calls him friend. An eminent Infidel used to say that neither patriotism nor friendship were taught in the Bible. He only proved that he neither knew nor understood the Bible. How different the sentiment of the Christian poet, who says,
” The noblest friendship ever shown,
The Saviour’s history makes known.”
Ah! it is an amazing truth that Jehovah-Jesus came and made friends of such worms as we are. True friendship consists of mutual confidence and mutual sacrifices. Thus God dealt with Enoch: “Enoch walked with God three hundred years.” Enoch told all to God, and God told all to him. Blessed friendship-between Jehovah and a worm! So God treated Abraham. Three times in the Bible he is called “the friend of God.”—2 Chron. xx. 7; Isa. xli. 8; James ii. 23. “He raised up the righteous man from the East, and called him to his foot.” The God of glory appeared unto Abraham, and we find God saying, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” Gen. xvii. 17. So God dealt with Moses: “ The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And God said to him, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.”—Exod. xxxiii. 11, 14. “And when Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he took the veil off.”—Exod. xxxiv. 34. Thus did Christ deal with his disciples. Though he was the holy Lamb of God, yet he says: “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”—John xv. 15. He admitted them to the closest fellowship; so that one leaned on his breast at supper, and another washed his feet with ointment. He told them freely all that he had learned in the bosom of his Father-all that they were able to bear; of the Father’s glory—the Father’s love. Thus he dealt with Lazarus: “Our friend Lazarus.”