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sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes : make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation !"-Jer. vi. 26. Such was the loss, such was the sorrow, of this disconsolate mother.
Here was a conspiration of all parts to mercy: the heart had compassion ; the mouth said, “ Weep not;" the feet went to the bier ; the hand touched the coffin; the power of Deity raised the dead. I do not see our Saviour stretching himself
the sons of the Shunamite and Sareptan; nor kneeling down and praying by the bier, as Peter did to Dorcas : but I hear him so speaking to the dead, that by the word he makes him alive—“ I say unto thee, Arise !” How soon is that funeral banquet turned into a new birth-day feast! How gladly did every tongue celebrate both the work and the Author ! great prophet is raised up amongst us, and God hath visited his people !”
The sacred historian paints one of the deepest mourning pieces extant in all the productions of the pen, in all the simplicity of style, yet with all the strength of colouring. When “ Jesus came nigh to the gate of the city, behold! there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.” What a gradation is here! How pathetically beautiful! Every fresh circumstance widens the wound, aggravates the calamity, till the description is worked up into the most finished picture of exquisite and inconsolable distress. He was a young man, cut off in the flower of life, amidst a thousand
gay expectations and smiling hopes. A son, an only son, the afflicted mother's all,—so that none remained to preserve the name, or perpetuate the family. What rendered the case still more deplorable, she was a widow, left entirely desolate, abandoned to her woes, without any to share her sorrows or comfort her under the irreparable loss. Is not this a fine sketch of the impassioned and picturesque ? Who can consider the narrative with any attention, and not feel his heart penetrated with a tender commiseration.—Luke vii. 11.
Rev. J. HERVEY.
See how triumphant Christ's commands are, over even death itself. “ He came and touched the bier” on which the dead body lay; hereby intimating that he had something to say to the dead young
66 Deliver him from going down to the pit, I have found a ransom.”—Job xxxiii. 24.
They that bare him stood still;" and then with solemnity, as one to whom belong the issues from death, Jesus said, “Young man, I say unto thee, Arise !” The young man was dead, and could not arise by any power of his own; yet it was no absurdity for Christ to bid him arise, when a power went along with the word to put life into him. The gospel call to all people, to young people particularly, is, “ Arise, arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light and life.”
Christ's dominion over death was evidenced by the immediate effect of his word : “ He that was dead sat up” without any help. Christ put life into him, and made it appear by his sitting up. Have we grace from Christ? Let us show it. Another evidence of life was, that “ he began to speak :" so Christ, giving spiritual life, opens the lips in prayer and praise. He would not oblige this young man, to whom he had given a new life, to go along with him, either as his disciple to minister to him, much less as a trophy or show to get honour by him; but “ delivered him to his mother," to attend her as a dutiful son: for Christ's miracles were miracles of mercy,—and a great act of mercy this was to this widow : now she was comforted, looking on her son as a particular favourite of heaven!
REV. MATTHEW HENRY.
While Jesus was walking to the house of Jairus, thronged by the surrounding multitude, he wrought a miracle, in healing a woman who had been afflicted with an issue of blood for twelve years.—Luke viii. 43-49.
This transaction occasioned delay, and, no doubt, increased the anxiety of Jairus : but his trial was much greater when messengers came to inform him that his daughter was dead. Jesus heard this, but exhorted Jairus not to disquiet himself
, “ only to believe” that he was able to restore his daughter, and would certainly bring her again to life. He dismissed even all his disciples, except Peter, James, and John, that he might be attended by a competent number of witnesses. He found that the mourners and minstrels had already been called in, as was customary, some playing mournful tunes, and others uttering the most doleful lamentations. Jesus forbad them to weep; but they, knowing that she was really dead, treated his words with contempt; he therefore put them all out of the room, after he had drawn from them this attestation of her death ; and, having none with him but the parents of the damsel and his three apostles, he took hold of her hand, and said aloud, as having power over death, and the spirits of the dead, “ Damsel, arise !” and immediately she arose and walked, to the inexpressible astonishment of the spectators, and doubtless the exceeding joy and gratitude of her before afflicted parents. So much compassion and condescension did our Saviour show to the feelings of natural affection, that it is worthy of observation,—of the three persons whom Christ is particularly recorded to have raised from the dead, one was the only son of a widow, another the only daughter of Jairus, and the third, the beloved brother of Martha and Mary. Rev. T. Scott.
How troublesome did the people's importunity seem to Jairus ! That great man came to see Jesus for his dying daughter. There was hope in her sickness; in her extremity there was fear; in her death, despair, as they thought, of help. • Thy daughter is dead ; trouble not the Master.”
Infidelity is all for ease, and thinks every good work tedious. O Saviour, it was thy meat and drink to do thy Father's will : it cannot be thy trouble which is our happiness. The messenger could not so whisper his ill news but Jesus heard it. Jairus hears: but he, whose work it is to comfort the afflicted, rouseth the dejected heart of that pensive father. not; believe only, and she shall be made whole :" - alive from her death - whole from her disease! Thou dost not, O Saviour, measure thy gifts by our petitions, but by our wants and thine own mercies. Christ will go to the place, that he might be confessed the Author of so great a miracle. O Saviour, thou lovest to go to the house of mourning: thy chief pleasure is the comfort of the afflicted. What a confusion there is in worldly sorrow !
The minstrels howl and strike dreadfully. Soon doth our Saviour charm this noise, and turn these unseasonable mourners out of doors. “ Give place; for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth.” Before the people and domestics of Jairus held Jesus for a prophet; now they took him for a dreamer : “ Not dead, but asleep !” “ And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.” What did these scorners think and say, when they saw him putting the minstrels and people out of doors ? Those that are shut out from the participation of God's counsels, think all his words and projects no better than foolish
But art thou, O Saviour, ever the more discouraged by the derision and censure of these scornful unbelievers ? Because fools jeer thee, dost thou forbear thy work ? “ He took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise; and her spirit came again, and she arose straightway." Death cannot but obey him who is the Lord of life. The soul is ever equally in his hand who is the God of spirits. O Saviour, bid my soul to arise from the death of sin !
O Saviour, the raising of Lazarus was one of thy last, so of thy greatest miracles. Other miracles do not more transcend nature, than this transcends other miracles. This alone was a sufficient eviction of thy Godhead, O blessed Saviour! Jesus heard the first groan of Lazarus ; yet this Lord of life lets his Lazarus sicken and die. 66 This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”
O Saviour, thy usual style is, the “ Son of man - willing thus to hide thy Godhead under the coarse weeds of our humanity : but here thou sayest, “ That the Son of God might be glorified.” To die was an act of the Son of man ; to raise from death was an act of the Son of God.
“ Our friend Lazarus sleepeth ; but I go that I may awake him out of sleep." What a sweet title is here, both of death and of Lazarus ! Death is a sleep ; Lazarus is our friend : what doth this import but, “ Ye are my friends, and Lazarus is both my friend and yours ?”— Our Friend!
Since our Saviour saw himself not rightly construed, he delivers himself plainly, “ Lazarus is dead.” Such is thy manner, O thou Eternal Word of thy Father! The absence of our Saviour from the death-bed of Lazarus was voluntary: “I am glad, for your sakes, that I was not there.” Christ was glad of it, for the advantage of his disciples' faith.
Martha had been well catechized before. Even she also had sat at Jesus' feet, and can now give good account of her faith in the power and Godhead of Christ,—in the certainty of a future resurrection. Mary now falls at the feet of Jesus before all her neighbours of Jerusalem. It was no less than excommunication for anybody to confess him; yet good Mary, not fearing the information that might be given by these Jewish gossips,
adores him; and, in her silent gesture, says, as her sister had spoken, “ Thou art the Christ, the Son of God!” Her humble prostration is seconded by a lamentable complaint,—“ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died !” This was Mary's moan: no request sounded from her to her Saviour. O Saviour, while thou speakest to thy Father, thou liftest up
eyes : now thou art to speak unto dead Lazarus, thou liftest up thy voice, – “ Lazarus, come forth !” How familiar a word is this !
He doth not say, “ Lazarus, revive !”—but, as if already living, “ Lazarus, come forth I” Thou didst not only, O Saviour, raise the body of Lazarus, but the faith of the beholders. What strange salutations do we think there were betwixt Lazarus and Christ: betwixt Lazarus and his sisters! I leave them entertaining each other with discourses of reciprocal admiration, with praises and adoration of that God and Saviour that had fetched him into life!
“ He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave clothes." From this and other passages, it would appear that the mode of preparing the bodies of the dead for the sepulchre was nearly the same as still exists in western Asia. No coffins being used, the body itself is more elaborately wrapped and swathed, than is common or desirable where coffins are used. In this method the body is stretched out, and the arms laid straight by the sides, after which the whole body, from head to foot, is wrapped round tightly in many folds of linen or cotton cloth. The body, when thus enfolded and swathed, retains the profile of the human form ; but, as in the Egyptian mummies, the legs are folded together : hence it is clearly impossible for a person thus treated to move his arms or legs, if restored to existence. But then, how could Lazarus, if thus “ bound hand and foot with grave-clothes,” come forth at the command of the Saviour ?
Ancient sepulchres were commonly recesses excavated in the sides of caverns : and it appears that the body of Lazarus lay in a recess of this description, the body being introduced with the head foremost, the feet turned towards the cavern : so that we may readily understand, that when that loud voice, which even Death heard, cried, « Lazarus, come forth !” the dead man worked himself out of the recess, and, sliding down, stood on his feet on the floor of the cavern. For, after he had “ come forth,” our Saviour, referring to the grave-clothes with which he was bound, said, “ Loose him, and let him go.' Our Lord directed that the bandages in which he was tightly swathed should be loosed, to enable him to walk, and leave the sepulchre.
Such was the astonishing work wrought by the Son of God at Bethany; and in the resurrection of Lazarus thus corrupted, and thus raised by the powerful call of Jesus, we have a striking emblem, and a glorious earnest, of the resurrection of our bodies from the grave at the last day, when the same powerful mandate which spoke Lazarus again into being, shall collect the scattered particles of our bodies, and raise them to immortality.
Such an extraordinary power displayed before the face of a multitude, and near to Jerusalem, even overcame the prejudices of some of the most obstinate among them. Many believed that Jesus could be no other than the great Messiah, so long promised; though others, who still expected a temporal prince, and therefore unwilling to acknowledge him for their Saviour, were filled with indignation, particularly the chief priests and elders.
“ There gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we ? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him; and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”—John xi. 47, &c. Accordingly they came to a resolution to put him to death. This resolution was not, however, unanimous; for Nicodemus, Joseph of Arimathea, and other disciples of our Saviour, then members of the council, urged the injustice of what they proposed to do, from the consideration of his miracles and innocence. But Caiphas, the high priest, from a principle of human policy, told them, that government often required certain acts of injustice to procure the safety of the state. “ Ye know nothing at all, nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.”—John xi. 49-50. The council determined to put Jesus to death, and, in all probability, agreed to issue a proclamation, promising a reward to any person who would deliver him into their hands !
Such was the effect of this illustrious miracle that many of the Jews, who had come to visit Mary, and beheld what Jesus did, were so affected with this marvellous instance of his power, that they believed on him as the Messiah. But some of them obstinate and perverse, went away to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done, to prevent his growing influence among the people. The chief priests, therefore, and the Pharisees, united in their enmity to Christ, being alarmed at the information, conveneit the Sanhedrim, the great council of the Jewish nation. Where shall we find such restless, such causeless, such incorrigible malice, as was in the hearts of these rulers against our blessed Saviour ?
We have simply produced, in the order, and with the circumstances in which they are recorded, the three leading instances of our Lord's dominion over death during his pilgrimage: the encouraging inferences deducible from them, as a pledge of our own resurrection, will properly be considered in connection with the resurrection of Christ. You cannot but have remarked that the whole of these miracles were performed before multitudes of people, not interested in extending the fame of Jesus, some of whom were his implacable enemies ! It cannot have escaped you, that these miracles bear the same characters of grandeur and of benevolence,
hich should distinguish miracles wrought in support of a Divine revelation; and they were adapted, nay, absolutely necessary, to prove the mission of the Messiah !