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Humble Hero

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    The Raising of Lazarus

    This chapter is based on Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-44.

    Among the most faithful of Christ’s disciples was Lazarus of Bethany, and the Savior loved him greatly. Christ performed the greatest of His miracles for Lazarus. The Savior loves all the human family, but He is bound to some by especially tender associations.HH 242.1

    At the home of Lazarus, Jesus often found rest. The Savior had no home of His own. When tired, thirsting for human fellowship, He had been glad to escape to this peaceful household. Here He found a sincere welcome and pure, holy friendship.HH 242.2

    As the crowds followed Christ through the open fields, He unfolded to them the beauties of the natural world. But they were slow to understand, and in the home at Bethany Christ found rest from the weary conflict of public life. Here He did not need to speak in parables.HH 242.3

    As Christ gave His wonderful lessons, Mary sat at His feet, a reverent and devoted listener. On one occasion, Christ’s first visit to Bethany, Martha was preparing the meal. She went to Jesus, saying, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” Jesus answered her with mild and patient words: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Mary was storing in her mind words from the Savior’s lips, words more precious to her than earth’s most costly jewels.HH 242.4

    Martha needed less anxiety for the things that pass away and more for those things that endure forever. The cause of Christ needs Marthas, with their zeal in active religious work, but let them first sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus. Let diligence and energy be sanctified by the grace of Christ.HH 242.5

    Sorrow entered the peaceful home where Jesus had rested. Lazarus was struck with sudden illness, and his sisters sent a message to the Savior, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” They saw the violence of the disease that had seized their brother, but they knew that Christ had shown that He was able to heal all kinds of diseases. They made no urgent demand for Him to come immediately but thought He would be with them as soon as He could reach Bethany.HH 242.6

    They waited anxiously. As long as the spark of life was in their brother, they prayed and watched for Jesus to come. But the messenger returned without Him. Yet he brought the message, “This sickness is not unto death,” and they clung to the hope that Lazarus would live. When he died, they were bitterly disappointed, but they felt the sustaining grace of Christ.HH 243.1

    When Christ heard the message, He gave no sign of the sorrow the disciples expected Him to show. He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” For two days Jesus remained in the place where He was. This delay was a mystery to the disciples, for His strong affection for the family at Bethany was well known.HH 243.2

    During the two days, Christ seemed to have dismissed the message from His mind. The disciples thought of John the Baptist. With the power to perform miracles, why had Jesus permitted John to languish in prison and die a violent death? The Pharisees presented this question as an unanswerable argument against Christ’s claim to be the Son of God. The Savior had warned His disciples of trials, losses, and persecution. Would He forsake them in trial? They were all deeply troubled.HH 243.3

    After waiting two days, Jesus said, “Let us go to Judea again.” If Jesus were going to Judea, the disciples questioned why He had waited two days. But anxiety for Christ and for themselves was now uppermost in their minds. They could see nothing but danger in the course He was about to pursue. “‘Rabbi,’” they said, “‘lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours in the day?’” “I am under the guidance of My Father. As long as I do His will, My life is safe. I have entered on the last part of My day; but while any of this time remains, I am safe.”HH 243.4

    “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” The light of God’s guiding Spirit gives him a clear understanding of his duty and leads him until the close of his work. “But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” He who walks in a path of his own choosing will stumble. Wherever he may be, he is not secure.HH 243.5

    “These things He said, and after that He said to them, ‘Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.’” In thinking of the danger their Master was about to be in by going to Jerusalem, the disciples had almost forgotten the mourning family at Bethany. But not so with Christ. The disciples had been tempted to think that Jesus did not have the tender love for Lazarus and his sisters that they thought He had. But the words, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps,” awakened right feelings in their minds. Christ had not forgotten His suffering friends.HH 243.6

    “Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking of taking rest in sleep.” Christ describes death as a sleep to His believing children. Their life is hid with Christ in God, and until the last trumpet shall sound, those who die will sleep in Him. See 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.HH 243.7

    “Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.’”HH 244.1

    The disciples were amazed at Christ’s words when He said, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad ... that I was not there.” Did the Savior avoid the home of His suffering friends by His own choice? But Christ saw the whole scene, and His grace upheld the mourning sisters. Jesus witnessed the sorrow of their aching hearts as their brother wrestled with death. But Christ had to think of not only the loved ones at Bethany. He had His disciples’ training to consider. They were to be His representatives to the world. For their sake He permitted Lazarus to die. If He had restored him from illness to health, the miracle that is the most positive evidence of His divine character would not have happened.HH 244.2

    If Christ had been in the sickroom, death could not have aimed his javelin at Lazarus. Therefore Christ remained away. He permitted the suffering sisters to see their brother put in the grave. He suffered every pang of sorrow that they endured. He loved them no less because He delayed, but He knew that for them, for Lazarus, for Himself, and for His disciples, there was a victory to gain.HH 244.3

    For all who are reaching out to feel the guiding hand of God, the moment of greatest discouragement is the time when divine help is nearest. They will look back thankfully on the darkest part of their way. Through every temptation and trial God will bring them out with firmer faith and a richer experience.HH 244.4

    Christ had delayed so that by raising Lazarus from the dead He could give His stubborn, unbelieving people another evidence that He was truly “the resurrection and the life.” He was unwilling to give up all hope for the people of Israel, and He determined to give them one more evidence that He was the only One who could bring life and immortality to light. This was the reason that He delayed in going to Bethany.HH 244.5

    When He reached Bethany, Jesus sent a messenger to the sisters with the news that He had arrived, but He remained in a quiet place along the way. The Jews’ great outward display when friends or relatives died was not in harmony with the spirit of Christ. He heard the wailing from the hired mourners and did not want to meet the sisters in that scene of confusion. Some of Christ’s bitterest enemies were among the mourning friends. Christ knew their plans, and so He did not make His presence known immediately.HH 244.6

    The message was given to Martha so quietly that others, even Mary, did not hear. Martha went out to meet her Lord, but Mary sat still in her sorrow, making no sound.HH 244.7

    Martha’s heart was troubled with conflicting emotions. In Christ’s expressive face she read the same tenderness and love that had always been there, but she thought of the brother she had loved so much. With grief surging in her heart because Christ had not come before, she said, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” Over and over again, the sisters had repeated these words.HH 244.8

    Martha had no desire to go over the past, but looking into the face of love, she added, “But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”HH 245.1

    Jesus encouraged her, saying, “Your brother will rise again.” His answer fastened Martha’s thoughts on the resurrection of the just, so that in the resurrection of Lazarus she could see a pledge of resurrection for all the righteous dead.HH 245.2

    Martha answered, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Seeking to give a true direction to her faith, Jesus declared, “I am the resurrection and the life.” In Christ is life—original, unborrowed, underived. “He who has the Son has life.” 1 John 5:12. Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” In this statement, Christ looked forward to the time of His second coming. Then the righteous dead will be raised incorruptible, and the living righteous will be translated to heaven without seeing death. The raising of Lazarus would represent the resurrection of all the righteous dead. By His word and His works Jesus asserted His right and power to give eternal life.HH 245.3

    To the Savior’s words, “Do you believe?” Martha responded, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” She confessed her faith in His divinity and her confidence that He was able to do whatever He chose.HH 245.4

    “When she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, ‘The Teacher has come and is calling for you.’” She delivered her message as quietly as possible, since the priests and rulers were prepared to arrest Jesus whenever they could. The mourners’ cries prevented others from hearing her words.HH 245.5

    When Mary heard the message, she rose quickly and left the room. The mourners thought that she had gone to the grave to weep, so they followed her. When she reached the place where Jesus was waiting, she said with quivering lips, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” The cries of the mourners were painful to her, for she longed for a few quiet words alone with Jesus.HH 245.6

    “Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” He saw that for many of them, what passed as grief was only for show. Some who now were putting on a hypocritical sorrow would plan the death of not only the mighty Miracle Worker, but also the one He would raise from the dead. “Where have you laid him?” He asked. “Lord, come and see.” Together they went on to the grave. Many people had loved Lazarus, and his sisters wept with breaking hearts while his friends mingled their tears with those of the sorrowing sisters. In view of this human distress and of the fact that the grieving friends could mourn while the Savior of the world stood by, “Jesus wept.” The Son of God had taken human nature on Himself and was moved by human sorrow. Suffering always awakens sympathy in His tender, pitying heart.HH 245.7

    But Jesus wept not only out of sympathy with Mary and Martha. Christ wept because the weight of the grief of ages was on Him. He saw the terrible results of breaking God’s law. He saw that the conflict between good and evil had been constant. He saw the suffering and sorrow, tears, and death that were to afflict the human family through all the ages in all lands. The troubles of the sinful race were heavy on His heart, and His tears flowed freely as He longed to relieve all their distress.HH 246.1

    Lazarus had been placed in a cave, and a massive stone had been rolled in front of the entrance. “Take away the stone,” Christ said. Thinking that He only wanted to look upon the dead, Martha objected, saying that the body had been buried four days, and corruption had already begun its work. This statement, made before Jesus raised Lazarus, left no room for Christ’s enemies to say that He had carried out a deception. When Christ raised the daughter of Jairus, He had said, “The child is not dead, but sleeping.” Mark 5:39. Because she had been raised immediately after her death, the Pharisees declared that the child had not been dead, that Christ Himself said she was only asleep. They had tried to make it appear that His miracles were not genuine. But in this case, no one could deny that Lazarus was dead.HH 246.2

    When the Lord is about to do a work, Satan prompts someone to object. Martha was unwilling for the decomposing body to be seen. Her faith had not grasped the true meaning of Jesus’ promise. Christ reproved Martha in the gentlest way: “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” “You have My word. Natural impossibilities cannot prevent the work of the Omnipotent One.” Unbelief is not humility. Unquestioning belief in Christ’s word is true humility, true self-surrender.HH 246.3

    “Take away the stone,” Christ could have commanded the angels close by His side to remove the stone. But He wanted to show that humanity is to cooperate with divinity. What human power can do, divine power is not summoned to do.HH 246.4

    Those standing near obeyed Jesus’ command and rolled away the stone. Everything was done openly and deliberately. Everyone saw that there was no deception. They saw the body of Lazarus, cold and silent in death. Surprised and expectant, the people stood around the tomb, waiting to see what would happen.HH 246.5

    A sacred solemnity came over everyone there. Christ stepped closer to the tomb. Lifting His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.” Christ’s enemies had accused Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Son of God. But here, with perfect confidence, Christ declared that He was the Son of God.HH 246.6

    Christ was careful to make it clear that He did not work independently of His Father. It was by faith and prayer that He worked His miracles. Christ wanted everyone to know His relationship with His Father. “Father,” He said, “I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Here the disciples and the people would see that Christ’s claim was not a deception.HH 246.7

    “Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come forth!’” Divinity flashed through humanity. In His face, which was lighted up by the glory of God, the people saw the assurance of His power. Every eye was fastened on the cave, every ear listening to catch the slightest sound. With intense interest all waited for the evidence that was to prove Christ’s claim to be the Son of God or to extinguish the hope forever.HH 247.1

    There was a stir in the silent tomb, then he who was dead stood at the door of the sepulchre. The graveclothes restricted his movements, so Christ said to the astonished spectators, “Loose him, and let him go.” Again they were shown that humanity is to work for humanity. They set Lazarus free, and he stood before the crowd, not as someone wasted by disease but as a man in the prime of life. His eyes beamed with intelligence and love for His Savior. In adoration he threw himself at Jesus’ feet.HH 247.2

    At first the onlookers were speechless with amazement; then indescribable rejoicing followed. The sisters received their brother back to life as the gift of God, and then brokenly, with joyful tears, they expressed their thanks to the Savior. But while everyone was rejoicing in this reunion, Jesus quietly left the scene. When they looked for the Life-Giver, He was not to be found.HH 247.3

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