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13. ASTOUNDING NATURE OF THE MIRACLES IN JN.

The raising of Lazarus, which is supposed to have taken place in Bethany, suggests that at this point it may be well to say all that remains to be said about the astounding nature of the miracles in the Fourth Gospel. What we shall say applies equally to the turning of water into wine at Cana, to the healing at the Pool of Bethesda of the man who had been lame for thirty-eight years, to the cure of the man born blind, &c. But it may suffice to explain what we mean, by dealing with the raising of Lazarus, which did not take place until the fourth day after death, when the body would already have become putrid. Martha actually refers to this fact (xi. 39), with the idea of suggesting that Jesus need not trouble to have the stone, which closed the rock-hewn selpulchre, rolled away. There is nothing which so clearly reveals the astounding nature of this miracle as the 84way in which it is regarded by scholars who assure us with the greatest earnestness that they do believe in miracles. They will tell us not only that the utterance of Martha is based upon a pure conjecture, but also that her conjecture was wrong. Certainly they can never have been inside a mortuary; nor do they reflect that in the warm climate of Palestine decomposition began much sooner than it does with us (cp. p. 19). Again they will tell us that, when a man dies, hearing is the last of all his senses to fail; and for this reason we are expressly told (xi. 43) that Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Indeed, they are able to tell us more. They will tell us that the bands in which, according to xi. 44, Lazarus’ feet and hands were wrapped, were not fastened round his feet tightly. That Jesus could raise a man on the fourth day after his death they believe, and they expect every one who does not wish to be called an unbeliever to believe it too; but that he could give the man power to walk with firmly fastened feet—no, this they do not believe. Can we wonder then that other people refuse to accept as credible not only this narrative, but with it the whole book which produces it, and lays such emphasis on it, as principal evidence for the divine power of Jesus?

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