XX. THE RAISING OF LAZARUS.
[Lincoln's Inn, 4th Sunday after Trinity, June 15th, 1856.]
St. John XI. 25.
Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.
The words, 'I and my Father are one;' 'The Father is in me and I in Him,' which were spoken in the porch of the Temple at the feast of Dedication, had the same effect as the words, 'Before Abraham was, I am,' which were spoken after the feast of Tabernacles. In both cases the Jews sought to take Jesus that they might stone Him; in both Jesus escaped out of their hands. On the last occasion we are told where He retired: 'He went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized, and there He abode.' The disciples who had been with Him in the crowd of the city found themselves in the lonely place where they had first heard Him proclaimed as the Lamb of God. Since that time there had been a whirl of new thoughts and strange hopes in their minds. The kingdom of God had appeared to be indeed at hand; they had seen their Master exercising the powers of it; they had exercised those powers themselves. Some day His throne would be established; they should sit beside Him. The vision had passed away; they were the companions of a fugitive; they were in the desert where they had first learned, not that they were princes to sit and judge, but sinners wanting a Deliverer.
I cannot doubt that He who was educating them, not only by His speech but by all His acts, had devised this lesson for them, that it was just what they needed at that time. How often do we all need just such a discipline; the return to some old haunt that some past experience has holy; the return to that experience which we seem to have left far behind us, that we may compare it with what we have gone through since! How good it would be for us if when circumstances take us back to the past, we believed that the Son of Man had ordered those circumstances, and was Himself with us to draw the blessing out of them!
Others beside the disciples were profiting, the Evangelist tells us, by this choice of a place. 'And many resorted to Him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spoke of this Man were true.' They had perhaps contrasted John the preacher in the wilderness, with Jesus who ate with publicans and sinners; John, who said, Repent, with Jesus, who opened the eyes of the blind. Now they were reminded of the likeness between them. Jesus drew them away from earthly things, as John had done. Jesus made them conscious of a light shining into them, as John had done. Only what John had said was true. They needed a baptism of the Spirit, that the baptism for the remission of sins might not be in vain. They needed a Lamb of God and a Son of God, who should do for them what no miracles could do. Was He not here? 'And many believed on Him there.'
I can conceive no diviner introduction than this to the story of the raising of Lazarus. It prepares us to understand that what we are about to hear of, is not one of those signs which Jesus reprimanded His countrymen as sinful and adulterous for desiring; not one of those wonders which draw men away from the invisible to the visible, — from the object of faith to an object of sight; but just the reverse of this, — a witness that what John spoke of Jesus was true, — a witness that in Him was Life, and that this Life always had been, was then, and always would be, the Life as well as the Light of men. With what care the story is related so that it shall leave this impression on our minds — how all those incidents contribute to it which would have been passed over by a reporter of miracles, no, which would have been rejected by him as commonplace, and therefore as interfering with his object — I shall hope to point out as we proceed. And I would thankfully acknowledge at the outset, that, on the whole, the mind of Christendom has responded to the intention of the divine narrator; that whatever scholars and divines may have made of the story, the people have apprehended its human and domestic characteristics, and have refused to be cheated of its application to themselves under the pretext that it would serve better as an evidence for Christianity if its meaning were limited to one age. I am still more thankful that the Church, by adopting the words of my text into her Burial Service, has sanctified this rebellion. An attempt, therefore, to discover the exact meaning of the Evangelist will not introduce novelties, but will deepen old faith. And I cannot help feeling that unless we do seek to deepen that faith, unless we are willing to learn again from St. John some of the lessons which we may think we know very perfectly, or have left behind us in our nurseries, we shall find that we have less of belief than many Jews and many heathens had before our Lord came in the flesh.
'Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)' The story of Mary and the alabaster box of ointment has not yet been told by our Evangelist. But he had too distinct and high an object to care for preserving the conventional proprieties of a narrator. He never pretended to be giving those who read him their first information about the events that happened while our Lord was upon earth. Their memories, he knew, were stored with these events. What they wanted was to see further into the meaning of them; to see how they exhibited the life of the Son of Man and the Son of God. He will tell us afterwards what is the context and significance of Mary's act. Here he assumes that it was known at Ephesus, — as it was to be known wherever the Gospel was preached, — and he uses it to identify Lazarus. But how could Lazarus need to be identified? Must not his name and his fame have been spread as widely as his sister's? Was any other more likely to be preserved in the first century, by tradition, if not by record? The answer is contained in the narrative. Lazarus, as a man who had been in a grave and had come forth out of it, might be spoken of then as he is spoken of now. A glorious halo might surround him. It would be shocking to connect him with ordinary feelings and interests. A like halo would encircle her head who had anointed the Lord's body for the burial. Men would refuse to look upon her as one of the common children of earth. It was just this which John dared to do, which it was essential to his purpose that he should do. He would have us know that Mary dwelt in the little town of Bethany; that she had a sister Martha; that Lazarus was her brother. The story is stripped of its fantastical ornaments. The hero and heroine have passed into the brother and sister. If they have to do with an unseen world, it is not with a world of dreams, but of realities; not with a heaven that scorns the earth, but with a heaven that has entered into fellowship with earth.
'Therefore his sisters sent to Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom you lovest is sick.' The man who was healed at the Pool of Bethesda, the blind man who was sent to wash in the Pool of Siloam, were merely suffering Jews; the bread at Capernaum was given to five thousand men gathered indiscriminately; the nobleman of Capernaum seems to have heard for the first time of Jesus; the guests at the marriage-feast may have been His neighbours, or even His kinsmen, but we are not told that they were. This message is the first which directly appeals to the private affection of the Son of Man, which calls Him to help a friend because he is a friend. The words which follow of our Lord and of His Apostle are worthy of all study in reference to this point. 'When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was.' He had a work to do. This was the first thought of all. The sickness was to glorify God, just as the blindness of the man to whom He restored sight was to glorify God. The Son of God who had been revealed as the Light of the world, was to be revealed as the Restorer of life. Death was not to be conqueror here, any more than darkness there. All other thoughts must give way to this. Yet 'Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.' The individual sympathy was not crushed by the universal, but grew and expanded in the light and warmth of it. He did respond to the message in His inmost heart. The love which it assumed to be there — the love for that particular man — was there. And in spite of it, yea, because of it, He continued in the desert, and made no sign of moving towards Bethany. These sentences enable us to enter into the Divine humanity of Jesus, as a thousand prelections and discourses would not enable us to enter into it. They do not present to us first the Divine side of His life, and then the human, as if they were opposing aspects of the same Being. They make us feel that the one is the only medium through which we can behold the other.
'Then after that He said to His disciples, Let us go into Judæa again. His disciples say to Him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone you; and go you there again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he sees the light of the world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.' I suppose many persons have asked themselves, 'What does this sentence mean just here? why was it introduced?' I do not know that we, who are living easy and comfortable lives, can quite solve the question. But many a patriot and confessor, who has been concealing himself from the anger of those whom he wished to bless, has, I doubt not, learnt the meaning of the sentence, and has felt the support of it. If he tried to rush forth into danger, merely in obedience to some instinct or passion of his own, he was walking in the night, and was sure to stumble. If he heard a voice in his conscience bidding him go and do some work for God, — go and aid some suffering friend, — he would be walking in a track of light; it signified not what enemies might be awaiting him, what stones might be cast at him, he could move on fearlessly and safely. The sun was in the heavens, — the stones would miss until his hour was come. If it was come, the sooner they struck the better.
'These things said He: and after that He said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. However Jesus spoke of his death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus to them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent you may believe; nevertheless let us go to him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, to his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.' These words, 'Our friend sleeps,' recal what was said, in the other Gospels, of the daughter of Jairus; and they point onwards to the language of the Epistles to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians, concerning those that are fallen asleep in Jesus. Our Lord is evidently teaching His disciples a new language; a language drawn from nature and experience; one which had mixed itself with other forms of speech in the dialect of all nations; but yet which was not easy for them to learn, and which we understand very imperfectly yet. It might not help them much then, but it helped them afterwards, that He did not speak merely of a man having fallen asleep, but of 'our friend' sleeping. They might not have seen Lazarus for weeks or months, or heard any tidings of him. All the outward tokens by which the existence of friendship is ascertained, might have ceased. They might never meet again. Would, therefore, the name lose its meaning or its power? What limit would you fix for that meaning or that power? Surely there is something immortal about the name; it prepares us for understanding how thin the thread is which separates death from taking of rest in sleep. The words, 'I go to awake him out of sleep,' could, of course, convey little sense till the event interpreted them. But the expression, 'Nevertheless let us go to him,' must have had a strange sound. 'Go to one who was already dead, — what could that mean? What did it all mean?' Thomas, the greatest doubter among them, assuredly could not tell. But he was willing to die with his Master; and that was the best preparation for understanding whatever He had to teach.
'Then when Jesus came, He found that he had lain in the grave four days already.' The commentator takes this opportunity of saying a word about Eastern customs, and the need of a burial immediately after death. Does he suppose that that necessity makes the story less near and dear to the sorrower of the West? The longer he is permitted to look at a face which appears often as if it had lost its restlessness, — not its beauty or its life, — the more dark and terrible must be the grave which is to hide it from him altogether, the more earnestly he must ask, Can light ever penetrate into that darkness? It is because the story of Lazarus has been believed to meet this question; because it comes into contact with the fact which speaks most directly to the senses and to the imagination of every one of us, that we cling to it when the topics of ordinary consolation are wearisome, unintelligible, even hateful, to us.
By such topics the sisters of Lazarus were tormented; for St. John says, — 'Now Bethany was nearly to Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.' They endure the visitation impatiently or patiently, according to their different dispositions. 'Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house.' The impulse of the first is to find a Friend to whom she can dare to make complaints, because she trusts Him; the other retreats into herself, and, perhaps, finds that same Friend there, teaching her another kind of lore than that which the well-meaning comforters are pouring into her ear.
'Then said Martha to Jesus, Lord, if you hadst been here, my brother had not died.' It is the language of reproach; but it is the kind of reproach which has faith and confidence for the ground of it, — which comes from a longing that the person who is the object of it should clear himself, and prove that he has not failed in the office of friendship, however he may have seemed to do so. And then, as if His face had already answered the uneasy suspicion which her words had expressed — had given her a hope of some unknown, inconceivable blessing — she adds, 'But I know that even now, whatsoever you shall ask of God, God will give it you. Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again.' The words sound grand and glorious; they were really disappointing. What else she thought He might ask of God she could not say; but it was not this. She had heard often of a resurrection; the Jews, who had come to Bethany, had, no doubt, been telling her many good discourses of the elders concerning it. Ages hence he would, she thought, awake out of the dust; in the meantime, the light in their house had been quenched; he was gone from them. She said, 'I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.' If He intended to give back Lazarus to her at once, could He not have told her so? Might He not have said, 'In your special case, for my love to Lazarus and Mary and you, I am about to break through ordinary laws, and to raise a body out of the grave, — not at the last day, but now.' Why not? Because, if He had said so, He would have contradicted His own words, His own acts, the whole tenor of His life. He did not come into the world to show special favours, but to assert and manifest universal truth. He did not come into the world to break God's laws, but to establish them, and to show forth the will which was at the foundation of them. Therefore, instead of limiting Martha's words about a resurrection in the last day, He expanded her words, — He uttered what was a more general proposition than that one, — not bounded to a certain moment in the future, but extending over the present and the past. The resurrection in the last day, — vague and loose as Martha's thoughts were about it, — was still practically bounded by the feeling which occupied her soul in that hour. 'I know that my brother shall rise again,' did not mean very much to her; the rising of any besides her brother meant nothing. But 'I am the resurrection and the life,' were words that applied to herself as much as to Lazarus, — to her sister as much as to either. She could not apprehend them, even in the slightest degree, without feeling that they were spoken of human beings, — not merely of that being who had been lying in the grave four days. And yet how immeasurably more they met her own case, her own sorrow, than the others! 'I am the resurrection and the life.' 'You have a Friend, an almighty Friend, who restores life, who is the Giver of life. Do not task your poor, feeble, sorrow-stricken fancy to conceive of some distant world-gathering. There may be such a one; but, if you are to know anything of it, know Me first. Trust in an actual person; leave yourself and the world to Him.' And He went on: 'He that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.' I do not say that she could understand this, or that we can. But I am sure she did understand that she was meant to believe in Him — to rest in Him; and that this belief and this rest might be exercised, not only by those who could look into His countenance and hear sounds coming from His lips, but by those who were out of sight, — who had passed into the unseen world. The dead might hear His word speaking to them. The dead might believe in Him. The dead might be quickened by that word and that faith. Therefore, when He asked her the question, 'Believest you this?' — though she could not dare to say, 'I believe it all; I take it in just as You have spoken it,' — she could say, 'Yea, Lord: I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.' She could trust absolutely, unreservedly in Himself, whatever His language might or might not import.
'And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calls for you. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came to Him.' Martha went into a presence which she felt to be dear, with a confidence that she should be welcome, with a certain sense that she had a right to speak; Mary must wait in silence and awe till she had some intimation that He was seeking for her. This difference of characters is as marked in the nineteenth century as in the first; it affects all the common subordinate relations of life; it reaches to the highest and most divine. Each has its own worth, and its own temptations. We have no business to disparage either; for Christ has imparted both, and has made each a way to Himself.
'Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goes to the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying, Lord, if you hadst been here, my brother had not died.'
The good-natured comforters can give their victim no peace, — even the grave is not too sacred a place for their persecutions; her only safety is where her sister had sought it and found it. The words Mary uses are the same as Martha's; they are the simplest expressions of the thought which must have been in both of them, — the thought which each must have understood the other to be vexed with, if nothing was spoken, — the thought which Martha will have been able to utter, and which Mary will probably have kept closed within her till that moment. And is there anything in that thought to make a chasm between the household in Bethany, and any English household in the nineteenth century? Is not the feeling the very same, in the heart of every one who has lost a friend or brother? 'He might have been saved; Christ might have ordered this differently. In this and in that case He did; why not in mine?'
'When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him! And some of them said, Could not this Man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?' The strength of these words, which has been so great for those who have taken them simply and naturally, has often been diluted. 'What need had He to weep, seeing that He was about to remove the cause for weeping?' But what if that grief of Mary was in kind the grief of every sister that had lost a brother, since death entered into the world, — of every sister who shall lose one, till death be finally swallowed up in victory? What if the grief of those about her, though less earnest, yet was at least a testimony that each of us has a share and a right in that which any other is afflicted with? Would the Son of Man, who had taken man's flesh, who had entered into man's sorrows, sympathise less with her who was beside Him then, because He knew the depth and cause of her grief better than she knew it herself; because He knew that it could not be cured by the smile of a brother, or the pressure of his hand, if that were granted her again; because He knew in Himself the mystery of the death of every man, and was to bear it Himself for every man? Surely it would have been a woful thing for us, and for the world, if He had not groaned in spirit at the sight of that cave, merely because Lazarus was to come out of it; if He had not wept when He saw Mary and the Jews weep, merely because a sudden joy was to succeed their tears! And was it not a cause for groaning, that those who saw how minute, and tender, and personal His affection was for this one man, should take so poor a measure of His love as to suppose that He cared for him, and not for them, — for Mary and Martha, and not for every human sorrower, — that He might from partiality have caused that this man should not have died, but had no power of delivering all from death?
'Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself comes to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take you away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, said to Him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he has been dead four days. Jesus said to her, Said I not to you, that, if you wouldest believe, you should see the glory of God?'
He had said to her, 'Your brother shall rise again.' He changes the language now, that He may convey a deeper sense. It was God's glory that was to be revealed in that act. Hereafter she would know how much more it concerned her, and her sister, and her brother, that Jesus should manifest that, than that He should have caused her brother not to have gone into the grave, or to come forth from it again.
'Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me. And I knew that you hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that you have sent me. And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus said to them, Loose him, and let him go.'
The thanksgiving to His Father for the power which He felt He had been endued with to finish that work, unfolds the mystery of His life; the sense of filial dependence and trust that was at the root of it; the pressure of human misery and death which turned His confidence into cries and groans for deliverance and help; the quickening energy which answered the cry; because, as He tells us so often, He was not doing His own will, but the will of Him who sent Him. This time it was needful that the cry should be heard by others. They must be taught that He was not exercising some rare and unwonted privilege to serve a partial end, — that He could bid Lazarus come forth, because He was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, the resurrection and the life.
St. John, who has told us the story with such care and minuteness, does not stop for an instant to comment upon it, or to utter any expressions of astonishment; he merely tells us: 'Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.'
Could he have spoken otherwise, brethren? Did he not wish us to consider this act as the sign of a truth, as the exercise of a power, which circumstances cannot affect, which is proving its vitality from age to age? Why should he comment? Why should he wonder? The commentary was to be in the history of the world; the wonder was to be renewed in the case of every brother, whom Christian hands were to lay in the grave, 'earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust,' in sure and certain hope that Christ is 'the resurrection and the life, and that whosoever believes in Him, though he were dead, yet should he live.' When we think of the return of Lazarus to his house at Bethany, it is not with an unmixed delight. We ask whether he could have welcomed the world's confusions which he had escaped? whether the thought must not have haunted him, that after a little while he should be in the same cave again? These are questions which it may be well for us to consider; though, perhaps, they are not different in kind from those which arise when any one who has been on the borders of the unseen world, who has taken leave of kinsfolk and friends, who has had glimpses of another country, suddenly recovers, and has to adapt himself once more — for a time probably with a strange sense of awkwardness and incoherency — to the business and dialogue of the earth. In one case as in the other, I conceive there is but this solution of the difficulty. The man must be glad to be placed where it pleases Christ that he should be placed. He will not certainly be nearer Him by complaining of his destiny, or by not desiring exactly the work which has been given him to do. If he has dreamed of a heaven above where he shall be under some other law than that, or where his will must not be in conformity with that law, the dream will never be realized. So, doubtless, Lazarus was taught by his discipline. And this may have been to him, if he could take it in, a greater comfort than even his appearance again beside the old hearth, — a compensation for all he might suffer then or afterwards, — that through him multitudes unborn were to learn the meaning of their own death, the secret of their own life, and who is the Friend that interprets them both. To each man who has been near the grave, and has come back to ever such commonplace duties, something of the same blessing may be given. He may think of One who hallows the common feast as well as the grave, who binds both worlds together.
To the question —
So we think very naturally. And yet, if we reflect, we shall perceive that those four days can only have been a part of the education of Lazarus, — that they cannot have been separate from all his previous and all his later experience.
The first cry of life, when he came out of the womb, as much testified of One in whom is life, who is the Source of life, as the look with which he greeted his sisters or his Lord, when he was commanded to come out of the grave. The opening of every sense to take in the sights and sounds of the world around him, — the opening of every affection which apprehended his human relations, — testified of the same living Word. The revival of past acts and scenes in the memory, — the awakening of the conscience, which bound those acts and scenes to his own individual self, — declared that there is One who not only gives life, but brings it back, who is the resurrection as well as the life. As the years of humanity brought him into converse with beings of his own race, whom he must meet on equal terms, whom he must recognise as having powers, affections, and responsibilities like his own, — as creatures looking before and after like himself, — he had a witness that there must be a common life, a common resurrection. As dialogue with Jesus gradually brought him to the knowledge of One who was a friend, and more than a friend, — a Master to whom he could submit, — an inspirer of strange thoughts, — a deliverer from infinite perplexities, — the discerner of mysteries which eye could not see, or ear hear; there was a more and more direct witness to his heart and reason: 'You have found the Christ. You have found the resurrection and the life.'
When one looks at the subject in this way, I am not sure whether one cares so much to know what passed in those four days. Let death and the grave claim their rights and keep their secrets, as long as they can. They were to assert a higher right than they asserted over this man of Bethany. Within a few days they were to claim dominion over Him who said, 'I am the resurrection and the life;' they were to try whether they could not hold Him as their thrall for ever. If they succeeded, it does not much concern us what has happened elsewhere in the universe; there is one thick impenetrable cloud over it all. If they failed, life must have fuller and more perfect dominion in the unseen region than it has in ours. Nothing which seems to die here can be under the sway of death there. And Christ, by raising one poor man before He was raised Himself, testified that death shall have no power, that the grave shall have no power, to extinguish one faculty of the soul, one sense of the body, in any creature whose nature He has taken.
Brethren, here is the doctrine of the resurrection of the spirit and of the body taught in Christ's own manner, not in words, but in an act. And here, too, is that doctrine of a general resurrection at the last day, which Martha had learnt from the Pharisees, — which, separated from the words, 'I am the resurrection and the life,' is the hardest and most unpractical of all opinions, — which, united to them, as it is in the Burial Service of our Church, is the most consolatory. A particular resurrection for individual men, without a general resurrection of our race, without such a restitution of all things as has been spoken of by prophets since the world began, would be utterly unsatisfactory, because it would not set plainly the glory of God and the love of God. The general resurrection in Scripture is described in various forms of speech, all answering to deep human necessities. It is spoken of as a revelation of the Son of God; it is spoken of as a revelation or unveiling of the sons of God in Him; it is spoken of as a gathering together in Him of all things in heaven and all in earth.
I cannot read this story without feeling that, among those things in heaven and earth that are so to be restored, the sympathies and affections of the family are some of the chief. I know not why St. John should have dwelt so much upon the sorrow of the sisters of Lazarus, and upon Christ's feeling for them, if he had not meant us to understand this. Martha, I suppose, thought before she came to Jesus, that her brother would ascend some time or other on angels' wings into a place somewhere above the stars; but that all the threads which, from their childhood upwards, had been winding round them and binding them to each other, should be broken; that the associations of home should cease for ever. I am sure she learnt a different lesson after she had seen her brother again, and had understood the declaration, 'I am the resurrection and the life.' Then she will have known that if, in the resurrection, 'they neither marry nor are given in marriage,' — if no fresh ties are formed like those which bind us together on earth, — yet that the old relationships, the old affections, are to have a new and higher life. What is sown in corruption is raised in incorruption; what is sown in weakness is raised in strength; what is sown a natural relationship is raised a spiritual. But in this case, as in every other, the change does not alter the substance of that which has been, only brings it forth in its might and purity.
Towards this resurrection all creation is groaning and travailing. And that groan which burst from Christ at the grave of Lazarus, was the expression of His sympathy in that groan of His creatures; even as His own travail hour, in the garden, on the cross, in the tomb of Joseph, showed that the path of the Shepherd is the same as that of the sheep, to victory and rest. Why cannot we enter into His sufferings? why cannot we look forward hopefully to His triumph? There are some fearful words in the text I have taken to-day — fearful in the midst of all their consolation — which explain the secret. It is said, 'He that BELIEVES in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.' Do we not feel sometimes as if all power of believing in anything that is great and noble were departing from us? Do we not feel as if to believe in Him who is goodness and truth, were the hardest effort of all? Does it not appear as if a second death were coming upon us, — a death of all energy, of all trust, of all power to look beyond ourselves? Oh, if this numbness and coldness have overtaken us, or should overtake us, — if we should be tempted to sit down in it and sink to sleep, — let the cry which awakened Lazarus awake us. Let us be sure that He who is the resurrection and the life is saying to each of us, however deep the cave in which he is buried, 'Come forth!' however stifling the grave-clothes with which he is bound, 'Loose him, and let him go!'
From the Gospel of St. John by FREDERICK DENISON MAURICE, M.A, Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Combridge. Published by MACMILLAN AND CO in 1882; Produced by Charlene Taylor, Julia Neufeld and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012.
Insights of the past for the present
Gospel of St. John - F.D. Maurice
ON THE BOOK SHELF
May your insights be worthy.