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19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.
20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.
23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
(Gen. 37 : 35 ;
2 Sam. 12:17; Job 2:13).” . Century Bible. Feastings and wailings are the prominent characteristics of the funeral week. 'The tears of friends in a time of sorrow are peculiarly prized in the East ; and they are sometimes caught as they fall, and preserved in little bottles or flasks. These tear-bottles are unearthed from ancient tombs in Egypt and Syria.” Henry Clay Trumbull. See Ps. 56:8.
20. Then Martha, as the elder sister and mistress of the house, went and met him : but Mary sat still in the house, quite overpowered by her grief. “ After the body is carried out of the house all chairs and couches are reversed, and the mourners sit on the ground or on low stools.” Edersheim.
21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, sadly and not reproachingly, Lord if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. Mary (v. 32) says the same thing later, showing that the two sisters had often said this to each other. They should have said, “ Lord, in these very chastenings of friendly love thou hast been here, not to save me from sufferings, but to save me spiritually through and by them.' Bishop Huntington.
Illustration. “ When the teacher desires to demonstrate his own excellence as an instructor he takes his ripest scholar and subjects him to the sorest examination, not because he is suspicious of his attainments, but just because he knows that they are so thorough ; so sometimes the Lord exposes his dearest people to fiery trials, not because he would expose their weakness, but because he knows their strength.” William M. Taylor.
22. Even now. God will give it thee. Martha must have known that Jesus had raised the dead, even if such a miracle had not been performed in Judea ; and even if she had not known, she had full confidence in his power with God.
23. Thy brother shall rise again. This promise might refer merely to the soul's immortality, in which the Jews believed, and Martha with them ; but her hungry heart was not comforted by this distant prospect. “I want my brother now,” her heart cried out.
24. I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Martha had a theoretical belief in the resurrection, but not a practical one.
Illustration. “A gentleman stepping into a poor woman's house saw framed and glazed upon the wall a French note for a thousand francs. He said to the old folks, How came you by this ?' They informed him that a poor French soldier had been taken in by them and nursed until he died, and he had given them that little picture when he was dying as a memorial of him. They thought it such a pretty souvenir that they had framed it.. They were greatly surprised when they were told that it was worth a little fortune for them. Have you not certain of the words of your good Lord framed and glazed in your hearts and yet you have never turned them into actual blessing ? You have done as Martha did when she took the words, ' Thy brother shall rise again,' and put round about them this handsome frame, 'in the resurrection at the last day.' - C. H. Spurgeon.
25. Then came Christ's wonderful declaration, “the great words that have thrilled the mourners of the world for two thousand years.' Elizabeth Stuart Phelps.
am the resurrection, and the life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead (R. V.,“ though he die”), yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?
27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.
“ Those words changed the whole current of the world's thoughts." Canon Ainger. This is no vague, future resurrection ; it is definite and present as Christ is. It makes death more than a sleep (v. 11), it makes it life. Immortality is no longer merely a doctrine, it is a person ; the resurrection is Christ himself. Compare the last words of Edward the Confessor : “ Weep not, I shall not die but live ; and as I leave the land of the dying, I trust to see the blessings of the Lord in the land of the living.” “ It is as though Jesus had said, “In me death is certain to live, and the living is certain never to die.' - Godet. “ All true life is in Christ. In him is lodged everything that is essential to life, in its origin, its maintenance, and its consummation, and all this is conveyed to the believer in his union with him. This life is not affected by death.” — Prof. Marvin R. Vincent.
Illustrations. The death of Sydney Carton in The Tale of Two Cities.
“ He who lives by the Life caunt die ” was the motto of the heroic missionary to Africa, Raymond Lull.
“ As a sovereign conveys a title in virtue of being the fountain of honor, so Christ confers life as being himself the fountain of life.” Rev. Thomas Majoribanks.
27. Yea, Lord: I believe (R. V., “I have believed,” i.e., “I have come to believe ") that thou art the Christ. Martha does not say that she believes that Jesus is the Life of death, the thought was too new and startling, she must think it out ; but she does believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and in that faith she accepts whatever he tells her about himself and his powers. This is a truly Christian faith.
III. “ JESUS WEPT,” vs. 28–37. 28. “Mary was lying tearless, desolate, comfortless, when Martha came back for her.” Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. Martha called her secretly, whispering the good news, for she knew that her sister would want to be alone with Jesus. Quickly, with the speed of love, Mary rose from the floor, stole away from the wailing group of friends, and went outside the little village to the waiting Master. But it is hard to be alone in Oriental lands, and the friends followed her, thinking she was going to weep at the grave of Lazarus, as she had doubtless often done before. It was a mark of sympathy to go with her.
THE MASTER IS Come.” “In that hour of Mary's sorrow it was like a sunburst of light on a dark night to know that the Master was near, to sympathize with and comfort their broken hearts. So the Master still comes and calls to us, and if, like Mary, we spring up gladly to meet him, he stays to fill with gladness and blessing our hearts and homes." Louis Albert Banks.
32. At the sight of Jesus Mary's overwrought nature gave way, and she fell down at his feet in a paroxysm of grief, moaning the refrain that both sisters had so often repeated, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
33. Mary's grief, and the wailing of her friends, had a strong effect upon the Saviour. He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. R. V., margin,
was moved with indignation in the spirit.” Professor Moffatt translates it, “ he chafed in spirit and was disquieted.” The great horror of the world's sin and suffering seemed to fall upon him, and he shuddered.
34. It was perhaps to break the tension of the moment that Jesus asked, Where have ye laid him? " This is the only instance in the Gospel of his asking for informa
Century Bible. 35. Jesus wept (Moffatt : “ Jesus burst into tears,” it is the aorist tense). The shortest verse in the Bible, and one of the most meaningful and beautiful. Our Lord knew that he would raise Lazarus from the dead, but he sympathized deeply with the grief of the sisters and their friends. “ His knowledge of the future did not make him indifferent to the present.” - Century Bible. “ It is not with a heart of stone that the dead are raised.” Hengstenberg. The very Gospel in which the deity of Jesus is most clearly asserted, is also that which makes us best acquainted with the profoundly human side of his life.” Godet. “ Homer's gods and goddesses weep and bellow when wounded, but are not touched with the feeling of human infirmity.” — Prof. Marvin R. Vincent.
"Two sayings of the Holy Scriptures beat
The first is Jesus wept - whereon is pressed
And sweetest waters on the record sweet.” — Mrs. Browning. Illustration. “A little child visited a neighbor who had lost her baby, and came home and told her mother that she had been comforting the sorrowing one. Her mother asked her how, and she said, 'I cried with her. It does us good when we are in trouble to know that some other one feels with us.” – J. R. Miller.
36. Some of the bystanders, sympathetic with Jesus, said when they saw him weeping, Behold how he loved him!
37. Among the bystanders were some of the critics that followed Jesus everywhere. They remembered the healing of the man born blind which had taken place not long before, near by in Jerusalem, and harshly expressed their surprise that such a wonder-worker had allowed his dear friend's sickness to end in death. “This Jesus cannot have so much power after all,” they implied.
IV. “LAZARUS, COME FORTH,” vs. 38–46. 38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself, perhaps at the harshness of this criticism, cometh to the grave. It was a cave, either natural artificial. The traditional grave of Lazarus, shown today at Bethany, is a vertical pit, descended by a ladder. A stone lay upon it, to keep out wild animals. It would be easily moved.
39. Jesus said, take ye away the stone. In the account of the resurrection of Christ contained in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter the stone closing Christ's grave is made to “roll away of itself.” Such needless miracles are no part of the Gospel narrative,
Reputed Tomb of Lazarus. From a photograph. and distinguish the false accounts from the true. Martha, the ever-careful and vigilant, saith unto him, He hath been dead four days. “It is a primitive Oriental idea that the spirit of the deceased remains with, or hovers over, the body for only three days after death; as three days are the ordinary limit of a guest's right to be provided for by any Oriental host whom he may elect.”. - Henry Clay Trumbull. Therefore, since Lazarus had been dead four days, Martha thought his spirit had gone beyond recall.
Illustration. God has a thousand wonders and pleasures ready for us, but we must ourselves roll away the stone. “ Full as the pipe may be of gas or water, it will not flow until the finger turns the faucet. Schools and libraries may bring all the wisdom of the ages to our hand, but the hand of study must unseal the fountain ere we can drink.”
Rev. J. M. Whiton, Ph.D. 40. Said I not unto thee that . thou shouldest see the glory of God? Jesus may refer to his saying in v. 4, reported to Martha by the messenger, and interpreted by his words in vs. 25, 26.
41. And Jesus . . . said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. Doubtless our Lord had been much in prayer since hearing of the death of his friend. “ This thanksgiving was not for any uncertain or unexpected gift. It was rather a proclamation of fellowship with God.” Westcott. It was made orally (v. 42) for the sake of the bystanders, that they might realize that the wonderful deed was only the manifestation of the Father's love and power. Christ came to glorify God on the earth (John 17:4).
43. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
44. 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.
43. He cried with a loud voice,“ in contrast to the usual muttering of sorcerers,”
Century Bible. Lazarus, Come Forth. Lazarus,' said Jesus in full, as he stood before the barred prison of death, “this is the first time I have visited Bethany, and that thou hast not come to meet me. It is not Bethany without thee; I wait and weary for my friend. Thou hast gone on a long journey, but thou hast not gone so far but my voice will reach thee. His is a strong hand which holds thee, and no man dare disobey his word ; but the key of Death's stronghold is at my girdle, and I am his Lord. Before I go to my agony and the cross I must see thee, Lazarus. It is thy Friend who calls — Lazarus, come forth l’and Death had no power to prevent the meeting of Jesus and his friend." Ian Maclaren." “ The Lord's call to Lazarus was not merely' a loud voice, but a loud shout symbolizing and anticipating that voice of the Son of God which shall echo one day through the sepulchres of the world.” Dean Alford.
44. And he that was dead came forth. “ The stone lips of the sepulchre mutter ; the black throat yawns; there is motion within, and sound. Steps stir there is a flickering of light and a shifting of shadows a shape moves, and rises before our eyes. Is it the living ? Was it the dead ? Clad in his shroud, as the tomb had taken him, Lazarus, for four days a dead man, stoops from the sepulchre, stands upright, and, walking steadily into the bright air, moves down the scattering ranks of his mourners, and solemnly regards them.” From “ Come Forth !” Bound hand and foot with graveclothes. “ Probably he was loosely involved in these graveclothes, which, hindering all free action, yet did not hinder motion altogether ; or possibly, in accordance with the Egyptian fashion, every limb was wrapped round with these strips by itself, just as in the mummies each separate finger has sometimes its own wrapping.” Trench. Not a word is said here about the experiences of Lazarus in the grave, though the apocryphal writings are voluble on this theme.
“Behold a man raised up by Christ!
The rest remaineth unrevealed;
The lips of that Evangelist.”. Tennyson. Browning's “ Epistle of Karshish "gives a wonderful imaginative picture of the renewed life of Lazarus on the earth:
And oft the man's soul springs into his face
His sage that bade him ‘Rise,' and he did rise.” THE EFFECT OF THE MIRACLE. As usual, it was twofold. The many Jews who were present at the miracle all believed on Jesus, for this is the meaning of the Greek.
Many of the influential social class with whom these dear Bethany friends seem on close terms believe on Jesus.' - S. D. Gordon. Some of them were even moved to go to the Pharisees and relate the wonders they had seen, in the hope of winning them to the Master's side. But in their enthusiasm they did not weigh the power of bigotry and prejudice. The remainder of the chapter is occupied with the plottings of the Pharisees against Jesus, plots ever more bitter from this time. From the grave of Lazarus stretched a shadow upon the path of Jesus, ending soon at Calvary.
THE MEANING OF THIS MIRACLE. John's account bears within itself the most convincing proof of its authenticity. It exhibits in its perfect artlessness and tender humanities the unconscious touch of nature and truth. If it be not what it claims, the record of a wonderful historical miracle, then we are shut up to the conclusion that it is an amazing literary miracle, which no conditions of the times can account for, and which human art in all these enlightened centuries has never equalled.' Rev. Hugh Macmillan, LL.D., F. R. S. E.
This miracle ranks next to Christ's own resurrection as a demonstration of immortality: Says the famous scientist, Sir Oliver Lodge :
“ I believe we may enter into the life eternal ; that whereas our terrestrial existence is temporary, our real existence continues without ceasing." Lazarus proves that.
Jesus broke up every funeral he attended.” - D. L. Moody. “ God is omnipotent and man is immortal! Therefore be patient and work ! The end shall certainly be joy, not sorrow. The stone shall roll away and the dead come forth.” — Phillips Brooks.
Death, nakedly considered, is nothing but the being left by ourselves and to ourselves.” — F. D. Maurice.
“ It can hardly be gain for us to die, till it is Christ for us to live.” - President Bascom.
There is immortality and immortality. “Scripture seems to make it possible that
every soul has everlastingness, but Scripture also seems to make it possible that for Jesus's kind of everlastingness every soul has got to qualify.”, Rev. T. Calvin McClelland, D.D. The eternal life that Christ gives is far more than mere continuance of life.
“ By faith we get over upon Christ's side in this terrible matter of death.” Theodore T. Munger.
“No longer must the mourners weep,
Nor call departed Christians dead;
And every grave becomes a bed." J. M. Neale.
LESSON III. April 15.
PRINT vs. 7-18. COMMIT vs. 11, 12. GOLDEN TEXT. - I am the good shepherd : the good shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. — JOHN 10:11.
THE TEACHER AND HIS CLASS. THE LESSON IN ITS SETTING.
For a younger class the teacher may Time. Probably the same as Lesson construct a model of a sheepfold, using I., at the Feast of Tabernacles, October bits of stone. Make a door in the middle 11-18, A.D. 29. of one side. Part of the fold will be open Place. Jerusalem ; perhaps in or at the top and part may be covered with near the temple. pasteboard. In the centre of each part may be placed a flat stone for the shepherd to watch from. The teacher may write PLAN OF THE LESSON. questions concerning the lesson on slips of paper and place these inside the fold. SUBJECT: Jesus, the Leader and Sav
iour of All Men. The pupils will draw them, read them aloud, and give the answers.
I. JESUS, THE TRUE SHEPHERD, Vs. 1In the older classes, fter going over the lesson text, you may review by having Robbers and strangers. one pupil state a fact about Eastern shep- The test of the true shepherd. herds, his neighbor give a lesson to be
The Door to life everlasting. drawn from the fact, and so on, alternat- II. JESUS, THE SACRIFICING SHEPHERD, ing facts and their teachings.
The fleeing hireling.
The life-sacrificing shepherd.
III. THE GOOD SHEPHERD
Good FATHER, Vs. 14-18.
Christ's other sheep.
The Father's commandment upon Christ. FOR RESEARCH AND DISCUSSION.
The Father's love for Christ.
Have we heard and are we following ?
THE TEACHER'S LIBRARY.
On Eastern shepherds see Mackie's This lesson compared with Ps. 23. How to follow the good Shepherd.
Bible Manners and Customs ; Thomson's