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    Chapter 31—Resurrection of Lazarus

    Jesus had often found the rest that his weary human nature required at the house of Lazarus, in Bethany. His first visit there was when he and his disciples were weary from a toilsome journey on foot from Jericho to Jerusalem. They tarried as guests at the quiet home of Lazarus, and were ministered unto by his sisters, Martha and Mary. Notwithstanding the fatigue of Jesus, he continued the instruction which he had been giving his disciples on the road, in reference to the qualifications necessary to fit men for the kingdom of Heaven. The peace of Christ rested upon the home of the brother and sisters. Martha had been all anxiety to provide for the comfort of her guests, but Mary was charmed by the words of Jesus to his disciples, and, seeing a golden opportunity to become better acquainted with the doctrines of Christ, quietly entered the room where he was sitting, and, taking her place at the feet of Jesus, drank in eagerly every word that fell from his lips.2SP 358.1

    The energetic Martha was meanwhile making ample preparations for the entertainment of her guests, and missed her sister's help. Finally she discovered that Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, and listening with rapt attention to what he was saying. Martha, wearied with many cares, was so vexed to see her sister calmly listening thus, that she forgot the courtesy due to her guests, and openly complained of Mary's idleness, and appealed to Jesus that he would not permit all the domestic duties to fall upon one.2SP 359.1

    Jesus answered these complaints with mild and patient words: “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things; but one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” That which Jesus indicated that Martha needed, was a calm, devotional spirit, a deeper anxiety to learn more concerning the future immortal life, and the graces necessary to spiritual advancement. She needed less anxiety for earthly things, which pass away, and more for heavenly things, which affect the eternal welfare of the soul. It is necessary to faithfully perform the duties of the present life, but Jesus would teach his children that they must seize every opportunity to gain that knowledge which will make them wise unto salvation.2SP 359.2

    One of the dangers of the present age is devoting too much time to business matters and to unnecessary cares, which we create for ourselves, while the development of Christian character is neglected. Careful, energetic Marthas are needed for this time, who will blend with their prompt, decisive qualities that “better part” of which Christ spoke. A character of such combined strength and godliness is an unconquerable power for good.2SP 359.3

    A dark cloud now hung over this quiet home where Jesus had rested. Lazarus was stricken with sudden illness. The afflicted sisters sent a message to Jesus: “Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.” They made no urgent requirement for the immediate presence of Jesus, for they believed that he would understand the case and relieve their brother. Lazarus was a firm believer in the divine mission of Jesus; he loved him ardently and was in turn beloved by the blessed Master, whose peace had rested on his quiet home. The faith and love which the brother and sisters felt toward Jesus encouraged them to believe that he would not disregard their distress. Therefore they sent the simple, confiding message: “He whom thou lovest is sick.”2SP 360.1

    When Jesus received the message, he said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” He accordingly remained where he was for two days. After the messenger was sent, Lazarus grew rapidly worse. The sisters counted the days and hours that must intervene between the sending of the message and the arrival of Jesus to their aid. As the time approached when they should expect him, they anxiously watched the travelers who appeared in the distance, hoping to discover the form of Jesus. All their efforts for the recovery of their brother were in vain, and they felt that he must die unless divine help interposed to save him. Their constant prayer was, Oh! that Jesus would come! He could save our beloved brother!2SP 360.2

    Presently their messenger returns, but unaccompanied by Jesus. He bears to the sorrowing sisters the words of the Saviour, “This sickness is not unto death.” But the hearts of the sisters fail them, for lo, their brother is already wrestling with the fierce destroyer, and soon closes his eyes in death.2SP 361.1

    Jesus, at the end of the two days, proposed to go to Judea, but his disciples endeavored to prevent him from doing so. They reminded him of the hatred manifested toward him when he was last there. Said they, “The Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?” Jesus then explained to them that he must go, for Lazarus was dead, adding, “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe.” Jesus did not delay going to the relief of Lazarus through want of interest in the stricken family; but he designed to make the sorrowful event of the death of Lazarus an occasion to give undoubted proof of his divine power, and unite his disciples to him in a faith that could not be broken. Already some among them were questioning in their minds if they had not been deceived in the evidences of his divine power; if he was really the Christ would he not have saved Lazarus whom he loved? Jesus designed to work a crowning miracle that would convince all who would by any means be convinced that he was the Saviour of the world.2SP 361.2

    The danger attaching to this expedition into Judea was great, since the Jews were determined to kill Jesus. Finding it was impossible to dissuade him from going, Thomas proposed to the disciples that they should all accompany their Master, saying, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” Therefore the twelve accompanied the Saviour. On the way, Jesus labored for the needy, relieving the suffering and healing the sick as was his custom. When he reached Bethany he heard from several persons that Lazarus was dead, and had been buried four days. While still at a distance from the house, he heard the wailing of the mourners. When a Hebrew died it was customary for the relatives to give up all business for several days, and live on the coarsest food while they mourned for the dead. Professional mourners were also hired, and it was they whom Jesus heard wailing and shrieking in that house which had once been his quiet, pleasant resting place.2SP 361.3

    Jesus did not desire to meet the afflicted sisters in such a scene of confusion as their home then presented, so he stopped at a quiet place by the road-side, and sent a messenger to inform them where they could find him. Martha hastened to meet him; she told him of her brother's death, saying, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” In her disappointment and grief she had not lost confidence in Jesus, and added, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it unto thee.”2SP 362.1

    Jesus encouraged her faith by declaring to her, “Thy brother shall rise again.” Martha, not comprehending the full meaning of Jesus, answered that she knew he would arise in the resurrection, at the last day. But Jesus, seeking to give a true direction to her faith, said, “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?” Jesus would direct the thoughts of Martha to himself, and strengthen her faith in regard to his power. His words had a double meaning; not only did they refer to the immediate act of raising Lazarus, but they also referred to the general resurrection of all the righteous, of which the resurrection of Lazarus which he was then about to perform, was but a representation. Jesus declared himself the Author of the resurrection. He who himself was soon to die upon the cross, stood with the keys of death, a conqueror of the grave, and asserted his right and power to give eternal life.2SP 362.2

    When Jesus asked Martha: “Believest thou?” she answered by a confession of her faith: “Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Thus Martha declared her belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, and that he was able to perform any work which it pleased him to do. Jesus bade Martha call her sister, and the friends that had come to comfort the afflicted women. When Mary came she fell at the feet of Jesus, also crying, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” At the sight of all this distress, Jesus “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” Together they all proceeded to the grave of Lazarus, which was a cave with a stone upon it.2SP 363.1

    It was a mournful scene. Lazarus had been much beloved, and his sisters wept for him with breaking hearts, while those who had been his friends mingled their tears with those of the bereaved sisters. Jesus had also loved Lazarus, whose faith had ever been strong in him, never wavering nor failing for a moment. In view of this human distress, and of the fact that these afflicted friends could mourn over the dead, when the Saviour of the world stood by, who had power to raise from the dead,—“Jesus wept.” His grief was not alone because of the scene before him. The weight of the grief of ages was upon his soul, and, looking down the years that were to come, he saw the suffering and sorrow, tears and death, that were to be the lot of men. His heart was pierced with the pain of the human family of all ages and in all lands. The woes of the sinful race were heavy on his soul, and the fountain of his tears was broken up, as he longed to relieve all their distress.2SP 363.2

    Seeing the tears and hearing the groans of Jesus, those who stood about said, “Behold, how he loved him!” Then they whispered among themselves, “Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?” Jesus groaned within himself at the unbelief of those who had professed faith in him. They thought his tears were because of his love for Lazarus, and that he who had done such mighty works had been unable to save Lazarus from death. Burdened by the blind infidelity of those who should have had faith in him, Jesus approached the grave, and in tones of authority commanded that the stone should be rolled away. Human hands were, on their part, required to do all that it was possible for them to do, and then divine power would finish the work.2SP 364.1

    But Martha objected to the stone being removed, and reminded Jesus that the body had been buried four days, and that corruption had already commenced its work. Jesus answered her reproachfully: “Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?” The stone was then taken away, and the dead was revealed to sight. It was evident to all that putrefaction had really commenced. All is now done that lies in the power of man to do. The friends gather round with mingled curiosity and awe to see what Jesus is about to do. Lifting up his eyes, the Saviour prayed:—2SP 365.1

    “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.” The hush that followed this prayer was broken by Jesus crying out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Instantly life animates that form which had been so changed by decay that the friends of the deceased recoiled from looking upon it. Lazarus, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and with a napkin about his face, rises, obedient to the command of his Saviour, and attempts to walk, but is impeded by the winding-sheet. Jesus commands his friends to “loose him, and let him go.”2SP 365.2

    Human hands are again brought into requisition to do the work which it is possible for them to do. The burial clothes which bear evidence of the corruption of the body are removed, and Lazarus stands before them, not as one emaciated from disease, and with feeble, tottering limbs, but as a man in the prime of life, and in the vigor of a noble manhood, his eyes beaming with intelligence and love for his Saviour. He bows at the feet of Jesus and glorifies him. A dumb surprise at first seizes all present; but now succeeds an inexpressible scene of rejoicing and thanksgiving. The sisters receive their brother back to life as the gift of God, and with joyful tears, brokenly express their thanks and praise to the Saviour. But while brother, sisters, and friends are rejoicing in this reunion, Jesus retires from the exciting scene, and when they look for the Lifegiver, he is nowhere to be found.2SP 365.3

    This crowning miracle of Christ caused many to believe on him. But some who were in the crowd about the grave, and heard and saw the wonderful works performed by Jesus, were not converted, but steeled their hearts against the evidence of their own eyes and ears. This demonstration of the power of Christ was the crowning manifestation offered by God to man as a proof that he had sent his Son into the world for the salvation of the human race. If the Pharisees rejected this mighty evidence, no power in Heaven nor upon earth could wrest from them their Satanic unbelief.2SP 366.1

    The spies hurry away to report to the rulers this work of Jesus, and that the “world is gone after him.” In performing this miracle, the Saviour took a decisive step toward the completion of his earthly mission. The grandest evidence of his life was now given that he was the Son of God, and had control of death and the grave. Hearts that had long been under the power of sin, in rejecting this proof of the divinity of Jesus, locked themselves in impenetrable darkness and came wholly under the sway of Satan, to be hurried by him over the brink of eternal ruin.2SP 366.2

    The mighty miracle wrought at the grave of Lazarus intensified the hatred of the Pharisees against Jesus. This demonstration of divine power, which presented such unquestionable proof that Jesus was the Son of God, was sufficient to convince any mind under the control of reason and enlightened conscience. But the Pharisees, who had rejected all lesser evidence, were only enraged at this new miracle of raising the dead in the full light of day, and before a crowd of witnesses. No artifice of theirs could explain away such evidence. For this very reason their hate grew deadlier, and they watched every opportunity of accomplishing their secret purpose to destroy him. In heart they were already murderers.2SP 367.1

    The Jewish authorities counseled together as to what course they should pursue to counteract the effect of this miracle upon the people; for the news spread far and wide that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and the reality of the event was established by many eye-witnesses. Still the enemies of Jesus sought to circulate lying reports, perverting the facts in the case as far as they were able, and endeavoring to turn the people away from one who had dared to rob the grave of its dead.2SP 367.2

    In this council of the Jews were some influential men who believed on Jesus; but their wishes were overruled by the malignant Pharisees, who hated Jesus because he had exposed their hypocritical pretensions, and had torn aside the cloak of precision and rigorous rites under which their moral deformity was hidden. The pure religion that Jesus taught, and his simple, godly life, condemned their hollow professions of piety. They thirsted for revenge, and nothing short of taking his life would satisfy them. They had tried to provoke him to say or do something that would give them occasion to condemn him, and several times they had attempted to stone him, but he had quietly withdrawn and they had lost sight of him.2SP 367.3

    The miracles performed by Jesus on the Sabbath were all for the relief of the afflicted, but the Pharisees had sought to use these works of mercy as a cause by which they might condemn him as a Sabbath-breaker. They endeavored to arouse the Herodians against him; they represented that Jesus was seeking to set up a rival kingdom among them, and consulted with them how they should destroy him. They had sought to excite the Romans against him, and had represented him to them as one who was trying to subvert their authority. They had tried every pretext to cut him off from influencing the people, but they had so far been foiled in their attempts; for the multitudes who witnessed the works of mercy and benevolence done by Jesus, and heard his pure and holy teachings, knew that these were not the words and deeds of a Sabbath-breaker and a blasphemer. Even the officers sent by the Pharisees had been so influenced by the divine presence of the great Teacher that they could not lay hands upon him. In desperation the Jews had finally passed an edict that if any man confessed that he believed on Jesus he should be cast out of the synagogue.2SP 368.1

    So, as the priests, the rulers, and the elders gathered together for consultation, it was their fixed determination to silence this man who did such marvelous works that all men wondered. Nicodemus and Joseph had, in former councils, prevented the condemnation of Jesus, and for this reason they were not summoned on this occasion. Caiaphas, who acted as high priest that year, was a proud and cruel man; he was by nature overbearing and intolerant; he had studied the prophecies, and, although his mind was shrouded in darkness as to their true meaning, he spoke with great authority and apparent knowledge.2SP 369.1

    As the priests and Pharisees were consulting together, some of them said, “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.” Then Caiaphas spoke out loftily: “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.” The voice of the high priest decided the matter; even if Jesus was innocent, let him die; he was troublesome, drawing the people to himself, and lessening the authority of the rulers. He was only one, it was better that he should die, even though he was guiltless, than that the power of the rulers should diminish. Caiaphas, in declaring that one man should die for the nation, indicated that he had some knowledge of the prophecies, although it was very limited; but John in his account of this scene takes up the prophecy, and shows its broad and deep significance in these words: “And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.” How blindly did the haughty Caiaphas acknowledge the mission of Jesus as a Redeemer!2SP 369.2

    Nearly all the council agreed with the high priest that it was the wisest policy to put Jesus to death. This decision having been made, the question was still to be determined how it should be carried out. They feared to take rash measures lest the people should become incensed and the violence meditated toward Jesus should be visited upon themselves. The Saviour was continually benefiting and teaching the people, they knew him to be one without blame, and his influence over them was very strong; it was on this account that the Pharisees delayed to execute the sentence which they had pronounced against him.2SP 370.1

    The Saviour understood the plottings of the priests against him; he knew that they longed to remove him from their midst, and that their wishes would soon be accomplished; but it was not his place to hasten the culminating event, and he withdrew from that region, taking his disciples with him. Jesus had now given three years of public labor to the world. His example of self-denial and disinterested benevolence was before them. His life of purity, of suffering, and devotion, was known to all. Yet this short period of three years was as long as the world could endure the presence of its Redeemer.2SP 370.2

    His life had been one of persecution and insult. Driven from Bethlehem by a jealous king, rejected by his own people at Nazareth, condemned to death without a cause at Jerusalem, Jesus, with his few faithful followers, finds a temporary asylum in a strange city. He who was ever touched by human woe, who healed the sick, restored sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the dumb, who fed the hungry and comforted the sorrowful, was driven from the people whom he had labored to save. He who walked upon the heaving billows and by a word silenced their angry roaring, who cast out devils that in departing acknowledged him to be the Son of God, who broke the slumbers of the dead, who held thousands entranced by the words of wisdom which fell from his lips, was unable to reach the hearts of those who were blinded by prejudice and insane hatred, and who resolutely rejected the light.2SP 370.3

    It is not the plan of God to compel men to yield their wicked unbelief. Before them are light and darkness, truth and error. It is for them to decide which to accept. The human mind is endowed with power to discriminate between right and wrong. God designs that men shall not decide from impulse, but from weight of evidence, carefully comparing scripture with scripture. Had the Jews laid by their prejudice, and compared written prophecy with the facts characterizing the life of Jesus, they would have perceived a beautiful harmony between the prophecies and their fulfillment in the life and ministry of the lowly Galilean.2SP 371.1

    It was nearing the time of the passover, and many came to Jerusalem from various parts of the country to purify themselves according to the ceremonial custom of the Jews. There was much talk and speculation among these people concerning Jesus, and they wondered if he would not be present at the feast. “Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that if any man knew where he were, he should show it, that they might take him.”2SP 371.2


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