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 ofGod's people. He came not to preserve his people from theseafflictions, but to save them from their sins, and from thewrath to come; however, it behoves us to apply to Him in behalfof our friends and relatives when sick and afflicted. Let thisreconcile us to the darkest dealings of Providence, that theyare all for the glory of God: sickness, loss, disappointment,are so; and if God be glorified, we ought to be satisfied. Jesusloved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. The families aregreatly favoured in which love and peace abound; but those aremost happy whom Jesus loves, and by whom he is beloved. Alas,that this should seldom be the case with every person, even insmall families. God has gracious intentions, even when he seemsto delay. When the work of deliverance, temporal or spiritual,public or personal, is delayed, it does but stay for the righttime. 7-10 Christ never brings his people into any danger but he goeswith them in it. We are apt to think ourselves zealous for theLord, 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, andour testimony finished. A man has comfort and satisfaction whilein the way of his duty, as set forth by the word of God, anddetermined by the providence of God. Christ, wherever he went,walked in the day; and so shall we, if we follow his steps. If aman walks in the way of his heart, and according to the courseof this world, if he consults his own carnal reasonings morethan the will and glory of God, he falls into temptations andsnares. He stumbles, because there is no light in him; for lightin us is to our moral actions, that which light about us to ournatural actions. 11-16 Since we are sure to rise again at the last, why shouldnot 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 toput off our clothes and go to sleep? A true Christian, when hedies, does but sleep; he rests from the labours of the past day.Nay, herein death is better than sleep, that sleep is only ashort rest, but death is the end of earthly cares and toils. Thedisciples thought that it was now needless for Christ to go toLazarus, and expose himself and them. Thus we often hope thatthe good work we are called to do, will be done by some otherhand, if there be peril in the doing of it. But when Christraised Lazarus from the dead, many were brought to believe onhim; and there was much done to make perfect the faith of thosethat believed. Let us go to him; death cannot separate from thelove of Christ, nor put us out of the reach of his call. LikeThomas, in difficult times Christians should encourage oneanother. The dying of the Lord Jesus should make us willing todie whenever God calls us. 17-32 Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on whichhis blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Gracewill keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house. WhenGod, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in waysof 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 anadvantage to her, when it put her at Christ's feet to hear hisword; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed herto melancholy. It is our wisdom to watch against thetemptations, and to make use of the advantages of our naturaltempers. 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 tobe the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is theResurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, thecause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness;and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from allevil for ever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ,about the great things of the other world, we should put it toourselves, Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts ofthis present time would not make such a deep impression upon usas they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought.When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in hisword and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them,calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, setthemselves at Christ's feet to be taught by him, may withcomfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, tofind favour with him. 33-46 Christ's tender sympathy with these afflicted friends,appeared by the troubles of his spirit. In all the afflictionsof believers he is afflicted. His concern for them was shown byhis kind inquiry after the remains of his deceased friend. Beingfound in fashion as a man, he acts in the way and manner of thesons of men. It was shown by his tears. He was a man of sorrows,and acquainted with grief. Tears of compassion resemble those ofChrist. But Christ never approved that sensibility of which manyare proud, while they weep at mere tales of distress, but arehardened to real woe. He sets us an example to withdraw fromscenes of giddy mirth, that we may comfort the afflicted. And wehave not a High Priest who cannot be touched with a feeling ofour infirmities. It is a good step toward raising a soul tospiritual life, when the stone is taken away, when prejudicesare removed, and got over, and way is made for the word to enterthe heart. If we take Christ's word, and rely on his power andfaithfulness, we shall see the glory of God, and be happy in thesight. Our Lord Jesus has taught us, by his own example, to callGod Father, in prayer, and to draw nigh to him as children to afather, with humble reverence, yet with holy boldness. He openlymade this address to God, with uplifted eyes and loud voice,that they might be convinced the Father had sent him as hisbeloved Son into the world. He could have raised Lazarus by thesilent exertion of his power and will, and the unseen working ofthe Spirit of life; but he did it by a loud call. This was afigure of the gospel call, by which dead souls are brought outof the grave of sin: and of the sound of the archangel's trumpetat the last day, with which all that sleep in the dust shall beawakened, and summoned before the great tribunal. The grave ofsin and this world, is no place for those whom Christ hasquickened; they must come forth. Lazarus was thoroughly revived,and returned not only to life, but to health. The sinner cannotquicken his own soul, but he is to use the means of grace; thebeliever cannot sanctify himself, but he is to lay aside everyweight and hinderance. We cannot convert our relatives andfriends, but we should instruct, warn, and invite them. 47-53 There can hardly be a more clear discovery of the madnessthat is in man's heart, and of its desperate enmity against God,than what is here recorded. Words of prophecy in the mouth, arenot clear evidence of a principle of grace in the heart. Thecalamity we seek to escape by sin, we take the most effectualcourse to bring upon our own heads; as those do who think byopposing Christ's kingdom, to advance their own worldlyinterest. The fear of the wicked shall come upon them. Theconversion of souls is the gathering of them to Christ as theirruler and refuge; and he died to effect this. By dying hepurchased them to himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost forthem: his love in dying for believers should unite them closelytogether. 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 beforethe passover at Jerusalem. When we expect to meet God, we mustsolemnly prepare. No devices of man can alter the purposes ofGod: and while hypocrites amuse themselves with forms anddisputes, and worldly men pursue their own plans, Jesus stillorders all things for his own glory and the salvation of hispeople.
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