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"Lazarus, Come Forth"
Jesus had often found rest at the home of Lazarus, but sorrow entered when Lazarus was stricken with sudden illness. His sisters sent to the Savior, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick."
Anxiously they waited for a word from Jesus; but the messenger returned without Him. Yet he brought the message, "This sickness is not unto death," and they clung to the hope that Lazarus would live. When he died, they were bitterly disappointed.
After waiting for two days, Jesus said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again. 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." Christ represents death as a sleep to His believing children.
"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."
He tarried, that by raising Lazarus from the dead He might give to His stubborn, unbelieving people another evidence that He was indeed "the resurrection, and the life." This crowning miracle, the raising of Lazarus, was to set the seal of God on His work and on His claim to divinity.
Upon reaching the town He sent a messenger to the sisters with the tidings of His arrival. Martha hastened to meet Jesus. Grief surging in her heart, she said, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." With human and divine pity Jesus looked into her sorrowful, careworn face. He encouraged her faith, saying, "Thy brother shall rise again."
Martha answered, "I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
Jesus declared, "I am the resurrection, and the life." In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. "He that hath the Son hath life." I John 5:12. The divinity of Christ is the believer's assurance of eternal life. "He that believeth in Me," said Jesus, "though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?"
Christ here looks forward to the time of His second coming. Then the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous shall be translated to heaven without seeing death. The miracle which Christ was about to perform, in raising Lazarus from the dead, would represent the resurrection of all the righteous dead. He declared Himself the Author of' the resurrection. He who Himself was soon to die upon the cross stood with the keys of death, a conqueror of the grave, and asserted His right and power to give eternal life.
To the Savior's words, "Believest thou?" Martha responded, "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." Mary rose hastily and left the room. Thinking that she had gone to the grave to weep, the mourners followed her. When she reached the place where Jesus was waiting, she knelt at His feet, and said with quivering lips, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died."
"Where have ye laid him?" He asked, "They said unto Him, Lord, come and see."
Together they proceeded to the grave. Lazarus had been much beloved, and his sisters wept for him with breaking hearts, while those who had been his friends mingled their tears with those of the bereaved sisters. In view of this human distress, and of the fact that the afflicted friends could mourn over the dead while the Savior of the world stood by, "Jesus wept." Though He was the Son of God, yet He had taken human nature upon Him, and He was moved by human sorrow.
Lazarus had been laid in a cave in a rock, and a massive stone had been placed before the entrance. "Take ye away the stone," Christ said. Martha objected, saying that the body had been buried four days, and corruption had already begun its work. Martha's faith had not grasped the true meaning of His promise.
Christ spoke with the utmost gentleness. "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"
The stone is rolled away. Everything is done openly and deliberately. All are given a chance to see that no deception is practiced. There lies the body of Lazarus in its rocky grave, cold and silent in death. Calmly Christ stands before the tomb. He steps closer. Lifting His eyes to heaven, He says, "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." His voice, clear and penetrating, pierces the ear of the dead. As He speaks, divinity flashes through humanity. In His face, which is lighted up by the glory of God, the people see the assurance of His power. Every eye is fastened on the entrance to the cave. Every ear is bent to catch the slightest sound.
There is a stir in the silent tomb, and he who was dead stands at the door of the sepulcher. His movements are impeded by the graveclothes in which he was laid away, and Christ says to the astonished spectators, "Loose him, and let him go." Lazarus is set free and stands before the company, not as one emaciated from disease, but as a man in the vigor of noble manhood. His eyes beam with intelligence and with love for his Savior. He casts himself in adoration at the feet of Jesus.
The sisters receive their brother back to life as the gift of God, and with joyful tears they brokenly express their thanks to the Savior. But while brother, sisters, and friends are rejoicing in this reunion, Jesus withdraws from the scene. When they look for the Life-giver, He is not to be found.
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Created: 8/1/01 Updated: 5/4/04