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From Heaven With Love

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    Chapter 58—The Raising of Lazarus

    This chapter is based on Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44.

    Among the most steadfast of Christ's disciples was Lazarus of Bethany, and he was greatly loved by the Saviour. For Lazarus the greatest of Christ's miracles was performed. The Saviour loves all the human family, but to some He is bound by peculiarly tender associations.HLv 350.1

    At the home of Lazarus, Jesus often found rest. The Saviour had no home of His own. When weary, thirsting for human fellowship, He had been glad to escape to this peaceful household. Here He found a sincere welcome and pure, holy friendship.HLv 350.2

    As the multitudes followed Christ through the open fields, He unfolded to them the beauties of the natural world. But the multitudes were slow of hearing, and in the home at Bethany Christ found rest from the weary conflict of public life. Here He needed not to speak in parables.HLv 350.3

    As Christ gave His wonderful lessons, Mary sat at His feet, a reverent and devoted listener. On one occasion, Christ's first visit to Bethany, Martha, preparing the meal, went to Him, saying, “Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” Jesus answered her with mild and patient words, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Mary was storing her mind with words from the Saviour's lips, words more precious to her than earth's most costly jewels.HLv 350.4

    Martha needed less anxiety for the things which pass away, and more for those things which endure forever. The cause of Christ needs Marthas, with their zeal in active religious work; but let them first sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus. Let diligence and energy be sanctified by the grace of Christ.HLv 350.5

    Sorrow entered the peaceful home where Jesus had rested. Lazarus was stricken with sudden illness, and his sisters sent to the Saviour, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.” They saw the violence of the disease that had seized their brother, but they knew that Christ had shown Himself able to heal all manner of diseases. They made no urgent demand for His immediate presence but thought He would be with them as soon as He could reach Bethany.HLv 351.1

    Anxiously they waited. As long as the spark of life was in their brother, they prayed and watched for Jesus to come. 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 the sufferer died they were bitterly disappointed, but they felt the sustaining grace of Christ.HLv 351.2

    When Christ heard the message, He did not manifest the sorrow the disciples expected Him to show. He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” For two days Jesus remained in the place where He was. This delay was a mystery to the disciples, for His strong affection for the family at Bethany was well known.HLv 351.3

    During the two days, Christ seemed to have dismissed the message from His mind. The disciples thought of John the Baptist. With the power to perform miracles, why had Jesus permitted John to languish in prison and die a violent death? The Pharisees presented this question as an unanswerable argument against Christ's claim to be the Son of God. The Saviour had warned His disciples of trials, losses, and persecution. Would He forsake them in trial? All were deeply troubled.HLv 351.4

    After waiting two days, Jesus said, “Let us go into Judea again.” The disciples questioned why, if Jesus were going to Judea, He had waited two days. But anxiety for Christ and for themselves was now uppermost in their minds. They could see nothing but danger in the course He was about to pursue. “Master,” they said, “the Jews of late sought to stone Thee; and goest Thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?” I am under the guidance of My Father; as long as I do His will, My life is safe. I have entered upon the last remnant of My day; but while any of this remains, I am safe.HLv 352.1

    “If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.” The light of God's guiding Spirit gives him a clear perception of his duty and leads him till the close of his work. “But if any man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.” He who walks in a path of his own choosing will stumble. Wherever he may be, he is not secure.HLv 352.2

    “These things said He; and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.” In the thought of the peril their Master was about to incur by going to Jerusalem, the disciples had almost forgotten the bereaved family at Bethany. But not so Christ. The disciples had been tempted to think Jesus had not the tender love for Lazarus and his sisters that they thought He had. But the words, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth,” awakened right feelings in their minds. Christ had not forgotten His suffering friends.HLv 352.3

    “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. Their life is hid with Christ in God, and until the last trump shall sound those who die will sleep in Him. See 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.HLv 352.4

    “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.”HLv 352.5

    The disciples marveled at Christ's words when He said, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad ... that I was not there.” Did the Saviour by His own choice avoid the home of His suffering friends? But Christ beheld the whole scene, and the bereaved sisters were upheld by His grace. Jesus witnessed the sorrow of their rent hearts as their brother wrestled with death. But Christ had not only the loved ones at Bethany to think of; He had the training of His disciples to consider. They were to be His representatives to the world. For their sake He permitted Lazarus to die. Had He restored him from illness to health, the miracle that is the most positive evidence of His divine character would not have been performed.HLv 353.1

    Had Christ been in the sickroom, death could not have aimed his dart at Lazarus. Therefore Christ remained away. He permitted the suffering sisters to see their brother laid in the grave. He suffered every pang of sorrow that they endured. He loved them no less because He tarried, but He knew that for them, for Lazarus, for Himself, and for His disciples, a victory was to be gained.HLv 353.2

    To all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back with thankfulness on the darkest part of their way. From every temptation and trial He will bring them forth with firmer faith and a richer experience.HLv 353.3

    Christ had tarried so 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.” He was loath to give up all hope of the people of Israel, and He purposed to give them one more evidence that He was the One who alone could bring life and immortality to light. This was the reason of His delay in going to Bethany.HLv 353.4

    On reaching Bethany Jesus sent a messenger to the sisters with the tidings of His arrival, but He remained in a quiet place by the wayside. The great outward display observed by the Jews at the death of friends or relatives was not in harmony with the spirit of Christ. He heard the sound of wailing from the hired mourners, and did not wish to meet the sisters in the scene of confusion. Among the mourning friends were some of Christ's bitterest enemies. Christ knew their purposes, and therefore did not at once make His presence known.HLv 354.1

    The message was given to Martha so quietly that others, even Mary, did not hear. Martha went out to meet her Lord, but Mary sat still in her sorrow, making no outcry.HLv 354.2

    Martha's heart was agitated by conflicting emotions. In Christ's expressive face she read the same tenderness and love that had always been there, but she thought of her dearly loved brother. With grief surging in her heart because Christ had not come before, she said, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” Over and over again the sisters had repeated these words.HLv 354.3

    Martha had no inclination to recount the past, but looking into the face of love, she added, “I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee.”HLv 354.4

    Jesus encouraged her, saying, “Thy brother shall rise again.” His answer fixed Martha's thoughts on the resurrection of the just, that she might see in the resurrection of Lazarus a pledge of the resurrection of all the righteous dead.HLv 354.5

    Martha answered, “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Seeking to give a true direction to her faith, Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In Christ is life, original, unborrowed, underived. “He that hath the Son hath life.” 1 John 5:12. Said Jesus, “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?” Christ here looked forward to the time of His second coming. At the time of His second coming, the righteous dead shall be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous shall be translated to heaven without seeing death. The raising of Lazarus would represent the resurrection of all the righteous dead. By His word and His works Jesus asserted His right and power to give eternal life.HLv 354.6

    To the Saviour'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.” She confessed her faith in His divinity, and her confidence that He was able to perform whatever it pleased Him to do.HLv 355.1

    “When she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.” She delivered her message as quietly as possible; for the priests and rulers were prepared to arrest Jesus when opportunity offered. The cries of the mourners prevented her words from being heard.HLv 355.2

    On hearing the message, 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 said with quivering lips, “Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” The cries of the mourners were painful to her, for she longed for a few quiet words alone with Jesus.HLv 355.3

    “When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” He saw that with many, what passed as grief was only pretense. Some now manifesting hypocritical sorrow would plan the death, not only of the mighty miracle worker, but of the one to be raised from the dead. “Where have ye laid him?” He asked. “Lord, come and see.” Together they proceeded to the grave. Lazarus had been much loved, and his sisters wept with breaking hearts, while 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 while the Saviour of the world stood by, “Jesus wept.” The Son of God had taken human nature upon Him, and was moved by human sorrow. His tender, pitying heart is ever awakened to sympathy by suffering.HLv 355.4

    But it was not only because of sympathy with Mary and Martha that Jesus wept. Christ wept because the weight of the grief of ages was upon Him. He saw the terrible effects of the transgression of God's law. He saw that the conflict between good and evil had been unceasing. He saw the suffering and sorrow, tears, and death, that were to be the lot of the human family of all ages in all lands. Woes of the sinful race were heavy upon His soul, and the fountain of His tears was broken up as He longed to relieve all their distress.HLv 356.1

    Lazarus had been laid in a cave, and a massive stone had been placed before the entrance. “Take ye away the stone,” Christ said. Thinking He only wished to look upon the dead, Martha objected, saying that the body had been buried four days, and corruption had already begun its work. This statement, made before the raising of Lazarus, left no room for Christ's enemies to say that a deception had been practiced. When Christ raised the daughter of Jairus, He had said, “The damsel is not dead, but sleepeth.” Mark 5:39. As she had been raised immediately after her death, the Pharisees declared that the child had not been dead, that Christ Himself said she was only asleep. They had tried to make it appear that there was foul play about His miracles. But in this case, none could deny that Lazarus was dead.HLv 356.2

    When the Lord is about to do a work, Satan moves upon someone to object. Martha was unwilling that the decomposing body should be brought to view. Her faith had not grasped the true meaning of His promise. Christ reproved Martha with the utmost gentleness: “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” You have My word. Natural impossibilities cannot prevent the work of the Omnipotent One. Unbelief is not humility. Implicit belief in Christ's word is true humility, true self-surrender.HLv 356.3

    “Take ye away the stone.” Christ could have bidden the angels close by His side to remove the stone. But Christ would show that humanity is to cooperate with divinity. What human power can do divine power is not summoned to do.HLv 357.1

    The command was obeyed. The stone was rolled away. Everything was done openly and deliberately. All saw that no deception was practiced. There lay the body of Lazarus, cold and silent in death. Surprised and expectant, the company stood around the sepulcher, waiting to see what was to follow.HLv 357.2

    A sacred solemnity rested upon all present. Christ stepped closer to the sepulcher. Lifting His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me.” Christ's enemies had accused Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Son of God. But here, with perfect confidence, Christ declared He was the Son of God.HLv 357.3

    Christ was careful to make it evident that He did not work independently of His Father; it was by faith and prayer that He wrought His miracles. Christ desired all to know His relationship with His Father. “Father,” He said, “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.” Here the disciples and the people were to be shown that Christ's claim was not a deception.HLv 357.4

    “And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” Divinity flashed through humanity. In His face, which was lighted up by the glory of God, the people saw the assurance of His power. Every eye was fastened on the cave, every ear bent to catch the slightest sound. With intense interest all waited for the evidence that was to substantiate Christ's claim to be the Son of God, or to extinguish the hope forever.HLv 357.5

    There was a stir in the silent tomb; then he who was dead stood at the door of the sepulcher. His movements were impeded by the graveclothes, so Christ said to the astonished spectators, “Loose him, and let him go.” Again they were shown that humanity is to work for humanity. Lazarus was set free and stood before the company, not as one emaciated from disease but as a man in the prime of life. His eyes beamed with intelligence and love for His Saviour. In adoration he cast himself at the feet of Jesus.HLv 358.1

    The beholders were at first speechless with amazement; then there followed inexpressible rejoicing. The sisters received their brother back to life as the gift of God, and with joyful tears they brokenly expressed their thanks to the Saviour. But while all were rejoicing in this reunion, Jesus withdrew from the scene. When they looked for the Life-giver, He was not to be found.HLv 358.2

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