Life Again


     A dark cloud now hung over this quiet home where Jesus had rested. Lazarus was stricken with sudden illness. The afflicted sisters sent a message to Jesus: "Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick." They made no urgent requirement for the immediate presence of Jesus, for they believed that he would understand the case and relieve their brother. Lazarus was a firm believer in the divine mission of Jesus; he loved him ardently and was in turn beloved by the blessed Master, whose peace had rested on his quiet home. The faith and love which the brother and sisters felt toward Jesus encouraged them to believe that he would not disregard their distress. Therefore they sent the simple, confiding message: "He whom thou lovest is sick."

     When Jesus received the message, he said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby." He accordingly remained where he was for two days. After the messenger was sent, Lazarus grew rapidly worse. The sisters counted the days and hours that must intervene between the sending of the message and the arrival of Jesus to their aid. As the time approached when they should expect him, they anxiously watched the travelers who appeared in the distance, hoping to discover the form of Jesus. All their efforts for the recovery of their brother were in vain, and they felt that he must die unless divine help interposed to save him. Their constant prayer was, Oh! that Jesus would come! He could save our beloved brother!

     Presently their messenger returns, but unaccompanied by Jesus. He bears to the sorrowing sisters the words of the Saviour, "This sickness is not unto death." But the hearts of the sisters fail them, for lo, their brother is already wrestling with the fierce destroyer, and soon closes his eyes in death.

     Jesus, at the end of the two days, proposed to go to Judea, but his disciples endeavored to prevent him from doing so. They reminded him of the hatred manifested toward him when he was last there. Said they, "The Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?" Jesus then explained to them that he must go, for Lazarus was dead, adding, "And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe." Jesus did not delay going to the relief of Lazarus through want of interest in the stricken family; but he designed to make the sorrowful event of the death of Lazarus an occasion to give undoubted proof of his divine power, and unite his disciples to him in a faith that could not be broken. Already some among them were questioning in their minds if they had not been deceived in the evidences of his divine power; if he was really the Christ would he not have saved Lazarus whom he loved? Jesus designed to work a crowning miracle that would convince all who would by any means be convinced that he was the Saviour of the world.

     The danger attaching to this expedition into Judea was great, since the Jews were determined to kill Jesus. Finding it was impossible to dissuade him from going, Thomas proposed to the disciples that they should all accompany their Master,  saying, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." Therefore the twelve accompanied  the Saviour. On the way, Jesus labored for the needy, relieving the suffering and healing the sick as was his custom. When he reached Bethany he heard from several persons that Lazarus was dead, and had been buried four days. While still at a distance from the house, he heard the wailing of the mourners. When a Hebrew died  it was customary for the relatives to give up all business for several days, and live on the coarsest food while they mourned for the dead. Professional mourners were also hired, and it was they whom Jesus heard wailing and shrieking in that house which had once been his quiet, pleasant resting place.

     Jesus did not desire to meet the afflicted sisters in such a scene of confusion as their home then presented, so he stopped at a quiet place by the road-side, and sent a messenger to inform them where they could find him. Martha hastened to meet him; she told him of her brother's death, saying, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." In her disappointment and grief she had not lost confidence in Jesus, and added, "But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it unto thee."

     Jesus encouraged her faith by declaring to her, "Thy brother shall rise again." Martha, not comprehending the full meaning of Jesus, answered that she knew he would arise in the resurrection, at the last day. But Jesus, seeking to give a true direction to her faith, said, "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?" Jesus would direct the thoughts of Martha to himself, and strengthen her faith in regard to his power. His words had a double meaning; not only did they refer to the immediate act of raising Lazarus, but they also referred to the general resurrection of all the righteous, of which the resurrection of Lazarus which he was then about to perform, was but a representation. Jesus 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.

     When Jesus asked Martha: "Believest thou?" she answered by a confession of her faith: "Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world." Thus Martha declared her belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, and that he was able to perform any work which it pleased him to do. Jesus bade Martha call her sister, and the friends that had come to comfort the afflicted women. When Mary came she fell at the feet of Jesus, also crying, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." At the sight of all this distress, Jesus "groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see." Together they all proceeded to the grave of Lazarus, which was a cave with a stone upon it.

     It was a mournful scene. 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. Jesus had also loved Lazarus, whose faith had ever been strong in him, never wavering nor failing for a moment. In view of this human distress, and of the fact that these afflicted friends could mourn over the dead, when the Saviour of the world stood by, who had power to raise from the dead,--"Jesus wept." His grief was not alone because of the scene before him. The weight of the grief of ages was upon his soul, and, looking down the years that were to come, he saw the suffering and sorrow, tears and death, that were to be the lot of men. His heart was pierced with the pain of the humanfamily of all ages and in all lands. The woes of the sinful race were heavy on his soul, and the fountain of his tears was broken up, as he longed to relieve all their distress.

     Seeing the tears and hearing the groans of Jesus, those who stood about said, "Behold, how he loved him!" Then they whispered among themselves, "Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?" Jesus groaned within himself at the unbelief of those who had professed faith in him. They thought his tears  were because of his love for Lazarus, and that he who had done such mighty works had been unable to save Lazarus from death. Burdened by the blind infidelity of those who should have had faith in him, Jesus approached the grave, and in tones of authority commanded that the stone should be rolled away. Human hands were, on their part, required to do all that it was possible for them to do, and  then divine power would finish the work.

     But Martha objected to the stone being removed, and reminded Jesus that the body had been buried four days, and that corruption had already commenced its work. Jesus answered her reproachfully: "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?" The stone was then taken away, and the dead was revealed to sight. It was evident to all that putrefaction had really commenced. All is now done that lies in the power of man to do. The friends gather round with mingled curiosity and awe to see what Jesus is about to do. Lifting up his eyes, the Saviour prayed:

     "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." The hush that followed this prayer was broken by Jesus crying out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." Instantly life animates that form which had been so changed by decay that the friends of the deceased recoiled from looking upon it. Lazarus, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and with a napkin about his face, rises, obedient to the command of his Saviour, and attempts to walk, but is impeded by the winding-sheet. Jesus commands his friends to "loose him, and let him go."

     Human hands are again brought into requisition to do the work which it is possible for them to do. The burial clothes which bear evidence of the corruption of the body are removed, and Lazarus stands before them, not as one emaciated from disease, and with feeble, tottering limbs, but as a man in the prime of life, and in the vigor of a noble manhood, his eyes beaming with intelligence and love for his Saviour. He bows at the feet of Jesus and glorifies him. A dumb surprise at first seizes all present; but now succeeds an inexpressible scene of rejoicing and thanksgiving. The sisters receive their brother back to life as the gift of God, and with joyful tears, brokenly express their thanks and praise to the Saviour. But while brother, sisters, and friends are rejoicing in this reunion, Jesus retires from the exciting scene, and when they look for the Lifegiver, he is nowhere to be found.

     This crowning miracle of Christ caused many to believe on him. But some who were in the crowd about the grave, and heard and saw the wonderful works performed by Jesus, were not converted, but steeled their hearts against the evidence of their own eyes and ears. This demonstration of the power of Christ was the crowning manifestation offered by God to man as a proof that he had sent his Son into the world for the salvation of the human race. If the Pharisees rejected this mighty evidence, no power in Heaven nor upon earth could wrest from them their Satanic unbelief.

The Spirit of Prophecy

Volume Two P 360-366