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which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, rather, “ he was troubled in spirit and groaned.”
34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see.
He was impatient to relieve himself and them from this distress.
35. Jesus wept.
36, Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him.
The tears which Jesus shęd, and the strong emotions which he felt on this occasion, the Jews naturally enough considered as the effect of sorrow for a departed friend; but they were in reality produced by sympathy with them and with his distressed sisters.
37. 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 ?
38. Jesus therefore, again groaning in himself, cometh to the grave, the tomb;" it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
From a celebrated traveller, Dr. Shaw, it appears that the higher classes of people in eastern countries have tombs made for the dead, at the present day, by scooping out a cave from the solid rock, and placing the body in it, without a coffin, after it has been covered with spices; which explains what is here said about the tomb of Lazarus.
39. Jesus said, Take ye away the
stone, in order to show that he was really dead. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.
As the Jews, on account of the rapid progress of putrefaction in a hot climate, used to bury their dead on the day in which they died, it is probable that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days; which, bound up as the body was with spices, would have been of itself sufficient to have taken away life, if he should not have been dead when first placed there. From attempting to restore to life a body in this state Martha endeavours to dissuade Jesus, thinking it impossible.
40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
That is, the power and goodness of God, manifested in the resurrection of thy brother. He had not said this in so many words, but he had told her so in substance, when he said that her brother should rise again, and asked her whether she believed what he had told her. Many examples occur in the history of the evangelists, where miracles were performed for those who had faith in divine power, but were withholdenwhere such a faith was wanting.
41. Then they took away the stone froin the place where the dead was Jaid. And Jesus lift up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me, by assuring me that I shall be enabled to work this miracle.
42. 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.
I thank thee, O Father, that thou hast given me power to work this miracle, and herein attended to my request. I say not this, as if it were an extraordinary thing for thee to comply with my requests; but I make this public acknowledgment, that those who are present may know more certainly whence 1 derive my power, and by whom I am sent into the world. Although Christ was furnished with a constant power of working miracles, yet the exalted piety of such a mind as his would naturally incline him to ask it in prayer, whenever it was to be exercised; just in the same manner as every devout man will ask for daily bread, although he knows that God will give it.
43. And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
He called him with a loud voice, that all might hear, and perhaps, to give a specimen of the manner in which the dead are to be raised at the general resurrection.
44. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin.
He was thus bound, in order to apply to him the spices with which he was embalmed, the quantity of which was always proportioned to the honour in which the deceased was held *. When it is said that he came forth, it is not necessarily implied that he walked
• See Harmer, Vol. ii. p. 161, &c.
out, but only, that having raised himself up in the cave, in the side of the rock, he slid down from it on his feet, and there remained till he was set at liberty.
Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
This story, which is related with all the unaffected simplicity of truth, abounds with many instructive lessons; but I am obliged to confine myself to one or two remarks.
1. We learn from it that Christ was a man, with the same feelings as ourselves. From other parts of the evangelical history we conclude that he had the same natural appetites which men have; that he ate and drank, was hungry and thirsty like them. Here we see that he had the same mental feelings : for we find him affected as other men of the like character would be in the same circumstances. When persons of a benevolent and affectionate temper see their friends in distress, they are distressed with them : they partake of all their sorrows and regrets, as if they were their own.
So does Jesus also: when he sees Mary weeping, and the Jews that accompanied her, he is deeply affected with the scene; he attempts to suppress his feelings by sighs and groans; and, when he can do it no longer, he breaks into tears; thus manifesting the sympathy of his heart and the genuine feeling of human nature: for it was not sorrow for distress which could not be remedied that occasioned these tears; since he was about to remove the cause immediately; but they were drawn forth by that tendency to weep which men feel when they see their friends weep.
This behaviour is perfectly reconcileable Vol. 2.]
with the nature of a man: for it is what we observe in men every day, and what we do not deem a disgrace to the best human characters: but it appears utterly unaccountable, if we suppose Jesus to have been a great pre-existent spirit, and the maker of the world; and, if possible, still more unaccountable, if we imagine him to be the Eternal God, united to a man: for in both cases he must be infinitely superior to the weaknesses of human nature, however innocent and amiable.
2. While we have this proof that Christ was a man, we have proof, at least equally satisfactory, from this story, that he was commissioned by God to instruct mankind; for we find him addressing God as his father; thanking him for the power which he had given him to work former miracles, and to do that which he was now about to perform; and declaring, that he says this to assure those who heard him that he was his servant and messenger; and God himself bearing testimony to the truth of this declaration, by performing the miracle which he had foretold, namely, raising Lazarus from the tomb, after he had been dead four days. What stronger evidence of divine interposition could be given? What clearer testimony to the pretensions of a prophet? Is not such a miracle plainly the voice of God, saying to us, " The appeal now made to me is just; I acknowledge it to be true, and have changed the course of nature, that you might understand my opinion?"
3. From the resurrection of Lazarus from the tomb, let us look forwards with confidence to the general resurrection of all mankind. Jesus tells Martha, indeed, that he is the resurrection and the life, as a proof of his power to raise her brother to life; arguing from a greater act of power to a less. The less event, however, which is certain, may throw light upon that which is future and distant. He that is endued with power to raise a man to life who had been dead four days, may be endued with power to raise those who have been dead so many thousand