John 11

* The sickness of Lazarus. (1-6) Christ returns to Judea. (7-10)

The death of Lazarus. (11-16) Christ arrives at Bethany. (17-32)

He raises Lazarus. (33-46) The Pharisees consult against Jesus.

(47-53) The Jews seek for him. (54-57)

1-6 It is no new thing for those whom Christ loves, to be sick;

bodily distempers correct the corruption, and try the graces of

God's people. He came not to preserve his people from these

afflictions, but to save them from their sins, and from the

wrath to come; however, it behoves us to apply to Him in behalf

of our friends and relatives when sick and afflicted. Let this

reconcile us to the darkest dealings of Providence, that they

are all for the glory of God: sickness, loss, disappointment,

are so; and if God be glorified, we ought to be satisfied. Jesus

loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. The families are

greatly favoured in which love and peace abound; but those are

most happy whom Jesus loves, and by whom he is beloved. Alas,

that this should seldom be the case with every person, even in

small families. God has gracious intentions, even when he seems

to delay. When the work of deliverance, temporal or spiritual,

public or personal, is delayed, it does but stay for the right

time.
7-10 Christ never brings his people into any danger but he goes

with them in it. We are apt to think ourselves zealous for the

Lord, when really we are only zealous for our wealth, credit,

ease, and safety; we have therefore need to try our principles.

But our day shall be lengthened out, till our work is done, and

our testimony finished. A man has comfort and satisfaction while

in the way of his duty, as set forth by the word of God, and

determined by the providence of God. Christ, wherever he went,

walked in the day; and so shall we, if we follow his steps. If a

man walks in the way of his heart, and according to the course

of this world, if he consults his own carnal reasonings more

than the will and glory of God, he falls into temptations and

snares. He stumbles, because there is no light in him; for light

in us is to our moral actions, that which light about us to our

natural actions.
11-16 Since we are sure to rise again at the last, why should

not the believing hope of that resurrection to eternal life,

make it as easy for us to put off the body and die, as it is to

put off our clothes and go to sleep? A true Christian, when he

dies, does but sleep; he rests from the labours of the past day.

Nay, herein death is better than sleep, that sleep is only a

short rest, but death is the end of earthly cares and toils. The

disciples thought that it was now needless for Christ to go to

Lazarus, and expose himself and them. Thus we often hope that

the good work we are called to do, will be done by some other

hand, if there be peril in the doing of it. But when Christ

raised Lazarus from the dead, many were brought to believe on

him; and there was much done to make perfect the faith of those

that believed. Let us go to him; death cannot separate from the

love of Christ, nor put us out of the reach of his call. Like

Thomas, in difficult times Christians should encourage one

another. The dying of the Lord Jesus should make us willing to

die whenever God calls us.
17-32 Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which

his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace

will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house. When

God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways

of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith,

hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus,

Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an

advantage to her, when it put her at Christ's feet to hear his

word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her

to melancholy. It is our wisdom to watch against the

temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural

tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect,

let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seemeth him good.

To enlarge Martha's expectations, our Lord declared himself to

be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the

Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the

cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness;

and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all

evil for ever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ,

about the great things of the other world, we should put it to

ourselves, Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of

this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us

as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought.

When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his

word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them,

calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set

themselves at Christ's feet to be taught by him, may with

comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to

find favour with him.
33-46 Christ's tender sympathy with these afflicted friends,

appeared by the troubles of his spirit. In all the afflictions

of believers he is afflicted. His concern for them was shown by

his kind inquiry after the remains of his deceased friend. Being

found in fashion as a man, he acts in the way and manner of the

sons of men. It was shown by his tears. He was a man of sorrows,

and acquainted with grief. Tears of compassion resemble those of

Christ. But Christ never approved that sensibility of which many

are proud, while they weep at mere tales of distress, but are

hardened to real woe. He sets us an example to withdraw from

scenes of giddy mirth, that we may comfort the afflicted. And we

have not a High Priest who cannot be touched with a feeling of

our infirmities. It is a good step toward raising a soul to

spiritual life, when the stone is taken away, when prejudices

are removed, and got over, and way is made for the word to enter

the heart. If we take Christ's word, and rely on his power and

faithfulness, we shall see the glory of God, and be happy in the

sight. Our Lord Jesus has taught us, by his own example, to call

God Father, in prayer, and to draw nigh to him as children to a

father, with humble reverence, yet with holy boldness. He openly

made this address to God, with uplifted eyes and loud voice,

that they might be convinced the Father had sent him as his

beloved Son into the world. He could have raised Lazarus by the

silent exertion of his power and will, and the unseen working of

the Spirit of life; but he did it by a loud call. This was a

figure of the gospel call, by which dead souls are brought out

of the grave of sin: and of the sound of the archangel's trumpet

at the last day, with which all that sleep in the dust shall be

awakened, and summoned before the great tribunal. The grave of

sin and this world, is no place for those whom Christ has

quickened; they must come forth. Lazarus was thoroughly revived,

and returned not only to life, but to health. The sinner cannot

quicken his own soul, but he is to use the means of grace; the

believer cannot sanctify himself, but he is to lay aside every

weight and hinderance. We cannot convert our relatives and

friends, but we should instruct, warn, and invite them.
47-53 There can hardly be a more clear discovery of the madness

that is in man's heart, and of its desperate enmity against God,

than what is here recorded. Words of prophecy in the mouth, are

not clear evidence of a principle of grace in the heart. The

calamity we seek to escape by sin, we take the most effectual

course to bring upon our own heads; as those do who think by

opposing Christ's kingdom, to advance their own worldly

interest. The fear of the wicked shall come upon them. The

conversion of souls is the gathering of them to Christ as their

ruler and refuge; and he died to effect this. By dying he

purchased them to himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost for

them: his love in dying for believers should unite them closely

together.
54-57 Before our gospel passover we must renew our repentance.

Thus by a voluntary purification, and by religious exercises,

many, more devout than their neighbours, spent some time before

the passover at Jerusalem. When we expect to meet God, we must

solemnly prepare. No devices of man can alter the purposes of

God: and while hypocrites amuse themselves with forms and

disputes, and worldly men pursue their own plans, Jesus still

orders all things for his own glory and the salvation of his

people.

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