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disciples why He was going into Judea again, saying to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep."
"What a sweet title does Jesus give here, both to death and to Lazarus! Death, a sleep; Lazarus, our friend."
E. Then, Mamma, Jesus called death only a sleep. I remember learning, when I was quite a little child, "When I die, I shall go to sleep for a very long time;" but I did not know then, that the Lord Jesus had taught us this.
M. Yes; it is our blessed Saviour Himself who has given us this happy view of death. We are apt to look it as an enemy; but it may prove a friend. To the just it is only a sweet and undisturbed sleep, from which they will wake up joyfully in a better world. "Who is afraid, after the weary toils of the day, to take his rest by night? or what is more refreshing to a weary traveller than a sweet sleep?" But men do not generally look upon death thus; even His own disciples could not understand His words; they replied, quite ignorantly, "Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well :" for they thought He was speaking "of taking of rest in sleep." But the sleep of Lazarus was deeper than this—a repose, from which nothing but the voice of Jesus could awaken him! Then Jesus told them plainly that Lazarus was dead.
When our Lord was come to Bethany, Lazarus had been already four days in the grave; and as Bethany was so near Jerusalem, many Jews had come from thence to do what they could to comfort Martha and Mary.
E. That was very kind of them.
M. It was indeed; for in the sympathy of friends there is great comfort. The Bible bids us to "weep with those that weep," to share the sorrows of our fellow creatures, if by so doing we may divide and lessen them. Though God is Himself the great source of all comfort, yet it pleases Him that we should in some degree lean upon, assist, and comfort one another. These sisters therefore did not shut their doors against their Jewish friends: they received their sympathy, no doubt, very gratefully; though they felt all the time, that there was one Friend still absent, who could have done more to comfort them, than all the rest. One word, or one look from Him, would do more to heal their hearts than all the world beside.
E. And He was coming now, Mamma.
M. Yes; the worst was over now; the Lord Jesus Christ approached; and when Martha heard that He was coming, she went out to meet Him, assured in her heart that He could not only sympathize, but succour too. And so she told our Saviour, saying to Him, the moment she saw Him, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died; but I know that, even now, whatsoever thou shalt ask of God, God will give it thee." Nor did she expect too much. Her faith had been sorely tried; it was now to be rewarded. For Jesus did not keep her one moment in suspense; He said unto her, "Thy brother shall rise again :" and when Martha replied, "I know that he shall rise again at the resurrection in the last day," He said to her very plainly, "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 said unto him, I believe that thou art the Christ the Son of the living God." As a Jewess, you see Martha believed in the resurrection of the body; yes, she believed the glorious truth, that "this mortal shall put on immortality." But she believed still more than this; she believed in Him, who is the resurrection and the life; through whom the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting, are secured to man. Such did Jesus declare Himself to be; such was He now about to prove Himself.
After hearing the encouraging words of Christ, and receiving into her heart the rich consolation which He gave her, Martha went to communicate the good news to her sister; to tell Mary that Jesus was come. All unconscious of the blessing which was so near, she was sitting in the house among the mourners; herself the chief of them; but no sooner did Mary hear of the approach of Jesus, than she arose quickly and went to Him. In the depth of their distress, their hearts still turned to their heavenly Teacher. Affliction had not soured them; it had not driven them from Christ. Rather Rather it had drawn them nearer to Him. In the multitude of the sorrows which they had in their hearts, they felt that His comforts could refresh their souls; they made haste into His pre
Our Lord seems to have remained still in the same place where Martha had met Him. Then Mary, in the depth of her grief, but as humble as she was afflicted, threw herself at our Saviour's feet, and addressed Him in the same touching words that Martha had used before. "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother
had not died." And when she had said this, her tears burst forth afresh.
Mary wept; the Jews who followed her wept; and when Jesus saw them all weeping, He himself" groaned in his spirit and was troubled," and said, "Where have ye laid him?" And then, as He followed this mourning party to the grave, Jesus himself wept. Being truly man, he partook of our serrows, and could weep for pity, as he wept over Jerusalem ;-could weep from affection, as He wept for Lazarus.
Then said the people who surrounded Him, and beheld all that was passing, "Behold how he loved him!" Well might they make this exclamation; for, behold here "love stronger than death: behold here a friend whom the very grave cannot sever. Oh! how greatly does the love of Christ surpass all human affection! Our earthly friends may follow us to the grave; but there they must leave us to the worms and the dust. But the grave stone, the earth, the coffin are no boundaries to the Saviour's love." Those whom He loves, He loves to the end. Even the very dust of His saints is dear to Him: there, even there, He considers them as members of His own body. "Heaven and earth yield no such friend as Jesus. O how shall we joy to think that the time is coming when He shall come to every one of our graves, and call us up out of the dust! When we shall hear His voice and
E. I suppose Mary and Martha began to have some idea of what our Lord was going to do, when they saw Him go towards the grave?
M. No, I think not. There seems to have been no idea yet of the miracle which He was about to
work, even in the minds of Martha and Mary. They thought, and so did the Jews, that He might have saved Lazarus from dying; but they seem never to have imagined that He could raise him from the dead. I suppose they thought that He came to the grave merely to weep.
E. I wonder Martha did not expect Jesus to raise Lazarus to life again after what He had said to her.
M. It seems that she had but half understood His words; for when our Lord was come to the grave, and had ordered the people to roll away the great stone that was put at the mouth of the sepulchre, Martha tried to persuade Him not to have this done. She told Him that Lazarus had been dead four days, and that the body must already be passing into a state of corruption, and therefore not fit to be approached, even by those who loved Him best! So much does the power of God and his mercy too exceed all that we can ask or think!
He had told Martha that, see the glory of God. Great was her faith, but
if she believed, she should But this she had forgotten. it still came far short of the glory of God. Nevertheless they took away the stone from the sepulchre at the Lord's command. "And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I know that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stood by, I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he had thus spoken he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth !"
E. Why, Mamma, Jesus spoke to Lazarus as if He were alive, not dead!
M. To let us know that those who are dead to us are