Box 04-055 SERMON BY REV. CALVIN MCQUESTEN,
Mar 27 1930
JOHN XI: THE RAISING OF LAZARUS
The Raising of Lazarus from the dead was the last and greatest of the seven 'signs' recorded in this Gospel. And it is related with such photographic minuteness of detail, that it is clear that the evangelist who narrates it was himself present and an eyewitness of what took place.
Three points about it are especially noteworthy:
(1) that it was a physical miracle which no ingenuity can reduce to a case of mental healing:
(2) that it was definitely worked to produce faith in Christ;
(3) that more than any other miracle, it was performed under test conditions. The object of it was really dead, and hostile witnesses were present.
Other miracles of Jesus were performed, apparently, simply to meet an immediate need! This one He deliberately staged as a demonstration of His power, delaying two days before responding to the appeal for help, in order that there might be no question that Lazarus was actually dead. When he raised to life the son of the widow of Nain, you remember, it was while the body was being carried out to the grave, which would be within a few hours of death, so that hostile critics probably claimed that the young man was not really dead but merely unconscious.
And the same argument would apply to the raising of Jairus's daughter.
But in the case of Lazarus the lapse of time precluded such and explanation. And it is probable that the actual time of four days was allowed by Jesus to pass before He intervened because of the popular belief that for three days the soul of the departed hovered round the grave, fain to re-enter & reanimate the body. On the fourth day, it was thought, the soul departed and decomposition began.
Like all the other miracles mentioned in this Gospel it is presented by Jesus as having a spiritual significance. The raising of Lazarus is to the evangelist a token and pledge of Christ's power to raise the dead soul to spiritual life and imbue it with a blessed immortality.
This truth our Lord declares in the words of verses 25 & 26 (Read).
Like the other miracles mentioned by St. John, this one has a twofold of fact--the quickening of belief on the one hand and the stiffening of unbelief on the other.
The publicity and notoriety of this miracle explain the warm welcome which Jesus received from the inhabitants of Jerusalem at His triumphal entry on Palm Sunday.
It also resulted in the meeting of the council which arranged for His arrest and execution.
Before going over the narrative in detail let us notice two ["personal" has been crossed out] features of Jesus personal relationship which come into it.
(1) His intimacy with the family at Bethany.
(2)The loyalty of Thomas--not a doubter but a pessimist.
[Read] vs. 8-10--We must respond to the call of duty, or lose our powers of moral
and spiritual perception.
Read vs. 17-22.
cf [compare] Martha with Mary vs. 32
Now we come to the most touching and beautiful expression of Jesus sympathy with human grief contained in the Gospels. (Read vs. 33-35). He knew what He was going to do. And yet the sight of their sorrow moved Him to tears.
I think it was the thought of the mass of unrelieved human misery in the world that made him groan.
But Jesus gives not only sympathy but relief. How magnificent is the triumph over woe recorded here. (Read vs. 39-45).
What had Lazarus to tell?
In view of this magnificent demonstration of divine love and power, how amazing is the perversity of human opposition which repels it. (Read vs. 46-54).
They even went so far as to propose to kill Lazarus also (Read 12: 10-11).
For us, of course, the summit of this chapter is found in the words of Jesus recorded in vs. 25 & 26 (Read.)
Let us never give up the determination to realize to the full what the possession of this eternal life may mean to us here and now.