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ably pays for Himself as well as for Peter, the accustomed offering. Nay He even works a miracle on purpose: for He desired Peter to go to the sea, and cast an hook, and to take up the fish that first came; assuring him that, when he had opened his mouth, he should find a piece of money sufficient for them both.
Who could believe that this was the same glorious person, whose Majesty Peter had so lately beheld; and to whom the voice from heaven had spoken, when it said, "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased ?"
This union of the highest greatness with the lowest humility, of unlimited power with submission to unexampled suffering, of the most entire heavenly mindedness with unwearied activity in well-doing, of our Lord's consciousness of a heavenly kingdom, while He paid tribute as a common Israelite-how full of instruction is it all to us! How much more should we be humble who are not great! How much more should we be ready to suffer patiently the troubles which we cannot avoid! How active should we be in our duties who hope for glory, and how willing to submit to that authority which has indeed a full and rightful claim upon us!
See Matt. xvii. Mark ix. 1-33. Luke ix. 27–45.
THIRTY-SEVENTH SUNDAY EVENING.
RESURRECTION OF LAZARUS.
M. We have seen already, Edward, what sort of reception our Lord met with at Jerusalem, and how determined the Jews were in general not to receive Him
as the Christ. I am sorry to tell you that the very same treatment met Him when He again at two different times visited the holy city: for the Jews on both occasions took up stones to stone Him, and that, in the Temple. Even that holy place could not shelter Him from their violence, because He called Himself the Son of God. They considered it as blasphemy against the most high God to say this: and so indeed it would have been, had it not been true, and been proved to be true by the wonderful works which our Lord continually performed. Great, however, was the rage of the Jews—but a second time, Jesus escaped out of their hands.
E. Where did He go now, Mamma?
M. He went again beyond Jordan, to the same place where John had baptized, and had pointed out Jesus to the people as the Lamb of God.
But though our blessed Lord thought fit to leave that unhappy city for a time, in order to preserve His life, He did not hesitate to return again to its neighbourhood as soon as He heard that there was an act of mercy to be performed there.
It seems that at a village called Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem, lived a family whom Jesus valued very much. They were two sisters called Martha and Mary, with their brother Lazarus, who were all three very dear to Jesus; so much so, that He often honoured their house with His presence, and blessed them with His friendship. It was for the sake of this family that Jesus ventured to approach Jerusalem again.
E. Was there any thing the matter with them then, Mamma?
M. Yes; Lazarus was sick. Those who are dear to God, are not therefore safe from sickness and suffering. Nay, they sometimes on that very account are subjected to severe trials, that God may "do them good in their latter end;" that He may have more glory, and that they may be made more happy. Lazarus, whom Jesus loved, was sick. And his sisters sent unto Him, saying, "Lord, he whom thou lovest is sick."
E. How happy they were to have such a friend, Mamma! I dare say they felt quite sure that He would come directly and make him well.
M. No doubt they did; and no doubt they were much surprised and disappointed, when hour after hour, and day after day passed by, and Jesus did not come. But so it was. When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, He did not hasten to his bed-side, but abode two days still in the same place where He was. This seems strange at first sight to us, and St. John, who relates the story, as if he thought this sounded unkind, tells us again, that "Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." But afflictions are often the best proofs we could have of Jesus' love to us. Few, however, are inclined to think so; and I dare say the hours rolled by very heavily in the sick room of Lazarus. I dare say the anxious sisters looked on very impatiently for some signs that Jesus was coming; and wondered, I have no doubt, that one who had seemed to love them so well, should be absent from them in this time of trouble. Could they have heard what the Lord had said, when the message was first brought to Him, their minds would have been more
For when Jesus heard the message which
they sent Him, He said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God; that the Son of God might be glorified thereby."
Well, indeed, can we imagine the distress of those affectionate sisters, as they hung over the sick bed of their only brother, and saw him get worse and worse, when they began to have less and less hope that Jesus could be there in time. Some hope, no doubt, they had to the very last that He would still be with them before it was too late but all in vain. Their brother Lazarus died! And Jesus was still afar off; at least so these sad sisters thought; but it was not really so. Oh no! "Jesus heard the very first groan of His dear Lazarus; He counted every breath he drew, every sigh he gave. And He allowed him to sicken, and languish, and die," only to show how mighty He was, even at the last, to save.
E. Then Jesus did really allow Lazarus to die? I did not expect that, Mamma. I fancied that He was only trying their faith a little, and that He would soon appear to raise him, as he had done others, from his bed of sickness. And yet you say that Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus?
M. The word of God tells us so, and I can quite believe it. Indeed I should be very unhappy, if I did not believe that our severest afflictions in this world are often sent in tenderest love. I have often felt thankful that the Spirit of God had caused to be recorded so simply, so minutely, this beautiful and affecting history: for it is full of comfort and instruction for the time of trouble. Here I see three persons beloved by our blessed Saviour, allowed to be His intimate companions and friends, yet permit[Second Series.]
ted by Him to be plunged into the deepest affliction. One of them is laid low on the bed of sickness, and allowed even to pass through the dark valley of the shadow of death: the other two are even more severely tried, for they have to lay what they love best in the cold grave. Why then should we be alarmed when trouble overtakes us? Why should we be surprised, as though some strange thing happened to us? Why should we despair of comfort and deliverance even from under the heaviest evils? We have only to go on further in this wonderful narrative, and we shall hear of a compassionate, and almighty Saviour, who knows all that happens to us, who appoints it all, who is never in reality nearer to us, or more careful of our happiness, than when He appears to be farthest off and to care least about it; and who in the very moment, when we think it is too late for His help, may be on the point of appearing for our deliverance.
You shall see now in what way the story assures us of all this.
E. You said, dear Mamma, that our Saviour stayed two days where he was, after He heard that Lazarus was sick did He go to Bethany when those two days were ended?
M. Yes; after they were passed He said to His disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." They tried hard to persuade Him not to go, saying, "Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?" But our Lord told them that, whilst life lasted, it must be employed in doing our duty, whatever that may be; and that the path of duty is the path of real safety. He then explained to His