« Prev § 233. The Resurrection of Lazarus.—The Prayer of… Next »

§ 233. The Resurrection of Lazarus.—The Prayer of Christ. (John, xi., 38-44.)

When the store was about to be lifted from the grave, Martha,626626   The conduct of Martha and Mary is in entire harmony with their characters; the former doubts, and expresses her doubt; the latter looks on in silence. whose heart fluctuated between hope and fear, gave new utterance to her doubts: “Lord, by this time he stinketh;627627   We must grant that those are right who say that this expression of Martha’s is no proof that corruption had commenced in the corpse. for he hath been dead four days.” Jesus said unto her, “ Said I not unto thee, that f thou wouldst believe, thou shouldst see the glory of God?628628   The reference of the words ὀψει τὴς δόξαν τοῦ θεοῦ is doubtful. Some refer them to the reply to the messengers, John, xi., 4. In that reply nothing is said of “believing,” but faith is silently presupposed. Others refer them to Christ’s words addressed directly to Martha (v. 25), in which faith is expressly required. It is true, the words “ὀψει,” &c., are not given in that verse expressly, but it contains, as we have already remarked, the basis of a promise of the kind, only not announced. (see God glorify himself in the effects of his Almighty mercy).

Then looking down into the grave, and assured that Lazarus would rise, as though the miracle were already wrought, he offers first his thanksgiving to the Father: “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.” Meaning that his utterance of thanks did not imply that he only then became conscious of power to raise up Lazarus. Prayer and thanksgiving were not isolated fragments of Christ’s life; his whole life was one prayer and one thanksgiving; for he knew that the heavenly Father heard him in all things, and always granted the powers needful to his calling. He made this public, individual thanksgiving, to testify to those around that he did this, like all his other acts, as the messenger of the Father, and considered it, as all things else, his Father’s gift.

This prayer has led some to distinguish this miracle from others as one not accomplished by Christ’s indwelling Divine power, but by God for him; to class it, in fact, among answers to prayer. But as Christ’s whole life was one prayer, in the sense just mentioned, as he always acted in unity with God, in the form of dependence, he could have expressed himself in the same terms in regard to any of his miracles. And although Lazarus did not rise until the voice of Jesus called him 343forth, he could thank God for it as an act achieved, in his certainty of at once accomplishing it; and, in so doing, testify that the power to do it was from God.629629   The omission of the raising of Lazarus in the first three Gospels has been adduced as an argument against its credibility. Were it not that other events are omitted in the same way, and were we not able to account for it by the peculiar character, origin, and aims of John’s Gospel, the argument might have more weight. To seek a special reason for the omission in this case could lead to nothing but arbitrary hypotheses. But it is sufficiently explained by the general reason, viz., that the former Gospels contain only traditions of the ministry of Christ at Jerusalem, followed by an account of his last stay in that city. In this outline there is no point at which the raising of Lazarus would naturally and necessarily be joined. It has been said that the intention to exaggerate is obvious in John’s Gospel, which always sets forth the miracles which it records as the highest possible, e.g., the cure of the palsy of 38 years’ standing; of the man that was born blind; the raising of Lazarus, &c. In reply to this, we might admit that John, having an apologetic object, only selected, from the abundant materials furnished by the Evangelical history, a few events illustrating in the highest degree the δόξα of Christ; but this admission would not affect the veracity of his narratives in the slightest degree. But the healing of the lepers, one of the most marked displays of miraculous power, is omitted by John; while the feeding of the five thousand, the very highest of them all, is given by the other Evangelists as well as by him. A high degree of miraculous power, therefore, was not the sole ground on which John selected the miracles that he recorded; he had regard, also, partly to their connexion with Christ’s discourses, and partly to their connexion with the course of the facts in his history. This last holds good especially of the narrative in question—that of the raising of Lazarus. It connects with the course of his life the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the enthusiasm of the people in his favour; and it also explains the resolution soon taken by the Sanhedrim to put him out of the way. And this, in turn, confirms the veracity of the narrative itself.

« Prev § 233. The Resurrection of Lazarus.—The Prayer of… Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection