Who has believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?…
(with John 11:40): —
I. THE ARM OF GOD. This expression is often used in the older Scriptures, and everywhere signifies the active, saving energy of the Most High. We first meet with it in His own address to Moses: "I will redeem them with a stretched-out arm." Then, in the triumphant shout that broke from two million glad voices beside the Red Sea — and frequently in the book of Deuteronomy — we read of the stretched-out arm of Jehovah. It is a favourite phrase with the poets and prophets of Israel — the arm that redeems; the holy arm; the glorious arm; the bared arm of God. The conception is that, owing to the unbelief of Israel, it lies inoperative, hidden under the heavy folds of Oriental drapery; whereas it might be revealed, raising itself aloft in vigorous and effective effort. All that concerns us now is the relation between faith and the forth-putting of God's saving might.
II. THE LIFE OF THE SON OF MAN. AS this chapter suggests, it seemed, from many points of view, a failure. The arm of the Lord was in Him, though hidden from all save the handful who believed.
III. A SPECIMEN CASE. Even though our Lord went to Bethany with the assurance that the arm of the Lord would certainly be made bare, yet He must of necessity have the co-operation and sympathy of some one's faith.
1. Such faith He discovered in Martha. Her admissions showed that faith was already within her soul, as a grain of mustard-seed, awaiting the summertide of God's presence, the education of His grace. There are many earnest Christians whose energies are taxed to the uttermost by their ministry to others. They have no time to sit quietly at the feet of Christ, or mature great schemes of loving sympathy with His plans, as Mary did when she prepared her anointing-oil for her Lord s burial. And yet they are capable of a great faith. Christ will one day discover, reveal and educate that faith to great exploits.
2. He put a promise before her — "Thy brother shall rise again." Faith feeds on promises.
3. He showed that its fulfilment might be expected and now. Jesus said, "I AM the Resurrection and the Life." Here and now is the power which, on that day of which you speak, shall awaken the dead; do but believe, and you shall see that resurrection anticipated. Ponder the force of this I AM. It is the present tense of the Eternal.
4. He aroused her expectancy. For what other reason did He ask that the stone might be rolled away? She believed, and she beheld the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. The one aim for each of us should be to bring Christ and the dead Lazarus together. Let us ask Christ, our Saviour, to work such faith in us; to develop it by every method of education and discipline; to mature it by his nurturing Spirit, until the arm of God is revealed in us and through us, and the glory of God is manifested before the gaze of men. At the same time, it is not well to concentrate our thought too much on faith, lest we hinder its growth. Look away from faith to the Object of faith, and faith will spring of itself.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?