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Therefore they sought again to take him; but be escaped out of their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized: and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many
believed him there. It is worthy of remark, that we here see our Lord Jesus at a festival, appointed only by human authority, in commemoration of a national deliverance. He came from Galilee to observe it in the temple, though it was winter ; and brought with him, as at all times, a heart glowing with the most ardent and amiable zeal, for the honour of God, and the salvation of men, even of those who were studying to insnare and destroy him.
What prudence, mingled with spirit and sweetness, runs through his answers to them! What inestimable blessings does he propose, to invite them to enter into his fold! May we never forget those gracious words ! May we ever be entitled to all the comfort of them! I give unto my sheep eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. Lord, may we be found in the number of those secure and happy souls, even of those who know thee, and who obey thy voice, and follow thee, whithersoever thou leadest them by thine example, thy Providence, and thy Spirit! Then may we look on our eternal life and happiness, as inviolably secure. Safely indeed may we trust it in his hands, who could say, in so sublime, and so glorious a sense, I and the Father are one. The enemies of our salvation must triumph then over Omnipotence itself, before they can wrest the sheep of Christ out of his hands ; nor will his fidelity to God, or his love to them, suffer them to be seduced by fraud, any more than destroyed by violence.
Blessed situation of thy little flock ! O thou faithful, thou compassionate, thou Almighty Shepherd, gather thou our souls with theirs ; and never suffer us to forget of how great importance it is, that we still continue near thee, that we look up to thee for our defence and safety, and confide not in our own power and wisdom, but in thine !
Who could have imagined, that any heart could have been so base as to have intended evil, or any hands so cruel, as to have armed themselves with instruments of death, against such a person, while speaking such words as these? Yet behold, these Jews do it; and that even in so sacred a place, as the temple itself; as the genuine offspring of those, who slew the prophet and priest of the Lord, even at his altar. (Compare Matt. xxiii. 31, 35. and Luke xi. 48, 51.) but his wise and gentle reply disarmed them for a few months; and the Divine care and power in an extraordinary manner provided for his escape, and once more rescued him from their mur. derous hands.
Happy the inhabitants of the country about Jordan, to which he retired ! especially happy, in that they knew the day of their visitation! The testimony of John the Baptist is now recollected to excellent purposes, though he himself was mouldering in his tomb: nor is there any thing, which a faithful Minister will more earnestly desire, than that even while dead, he may yet speak, for the honour of Christ, and the salvation of souls.
JOHN XI. 1-16. 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.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, this sickness is not unto 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. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee: and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazareth sleepeth ; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if !
sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of bis death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 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. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow-disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
How happy was this family of Lazarus in which Christ was so'frequent a guest ! how happy Lazarus and his sisters, who were so peculiarly beloved by him! Yet sickness and death invaded that family; and this excellent man, as it should seem, in flourishing circumstances (ver. 19), and perhaps too in early youth, was snatched away, on a sudden, by what appeared a very untimely stroke. The friends of Christ must be sick, and die, as well as others; and no man knoweth either love, or hatred, by all that is before them under the sun : (Eccles. ix. 1.) Let us therefore judge nothing before the time; (1 Cor. iv. 5.) This sickness and death of Lazarus was for the glory of God: and may all our personal and domestic sufferings be so I To this, O Lord, may our life be consecrated, and to this may our death be subservient! We shall not then feel our dying pangs in half their bitterness, when our hearts are inflamed with a zeal for thy glory, and when we see that even those pangs are promoting it.
Our Lord delayed his coming to this dear friend in his extremity; and perhaps it occasioned, not only many an anxious, but many a suspicious thought, both to Lazarus and his sisters; yet the intent of this delay was both gracious and important. Let us not limit our Divine Master as to the time or manner of his appearance for us : let us not censure him if it be for a while put off. It is to exercise our faith and patience, and to make the mercy more signal and more welcome.
At length a resolution is formed to go into Judea ;, though but a little while ago the Jews had assaulted him, even in a sacred place, with burning malice in their hearts, and the instruments of death in their hands. But when Providence called, none of these things could move our blessed Redeemer, neither counted he his life dear unto him, that he might finish his course with joy. (Acts xx. 24.) May we shew the like intrepidity of our soul in his service ! walking in the day, that we may not stumble, and taking all proper opportunities of performing the duties of life while the season of it lasts; and then, when the night of death comes, it will close our eyes in , peaceful slumbers. The repose of the breathless corpse, insen. sible of alarms, and sorrows, and cares, will be a lovely emblem of the sweeter repose of the soul in the arms of Divine love, till ere long Christ shall come to awaken us out of our sleep by that general resurrection of which this of Lazarus was a figure and pledge.
Let these glorious thoughts and expectations animate us to all the returns of affection, duty, and zeal. Let them teach
the temper of Thomas when he said, Let us go and die with him. “ Blessed Jesus! how much better is it to die with and for thee, who art the resurrection and the life, than to prolong these wretched days of absence, meanness, and affliction, by forsaking thee when thou art leading us into danger !”
JOHN XI. 17-46. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus saith unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: 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? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord : I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 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 arose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep
there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had nct died. 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 ye laid him? They said unto 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? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh : for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 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 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. 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 saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 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.