And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.…
I. A MEMORABLE MIRACLE. There is no measuring miracles, for they are all displays of the infinite, but in some respects it stands as the head of a wonderful series, and is a type of what Jesus is doing now in the world of spirit. Its memorableness is seen —
1. In the subject of it.
(1) Lazarus had been dead four days. When a man has newly died he might seem to resemble an engine just now in full action, and now though motionless, the valves, wheels, and bands are still there: only rekindle the fire and reapply the motive force and the machinery will work. But when corruption comes, valves displaced, wheels broken, metal eaten away, what can be done now? It were an easier task to make a new man than to reanimate a corrupted one.
(2) There are some who are symbolized by this case, who are altogether abominable. The pure mind desires to have them put out of sight. It does not seem possible to restore them to purity, honesty, or hope. But when the Lord makes them live, the most sceptical are obliged to confess "this is the finger of God." However far a man may be gone he is not beyond the Lord's arm of mighty mercy.
2. The manifest human weakness of its Worker. In no passage is the manhood of Christ more manifested.
(1) He showed the sorrows and sympathies of a man.
(2) As a man He seeks information.
(3) He walks to the tomb — quite unnecessary action.
(4) He seeks human assistance.
(5) He prays. This is a parable of our own ease as workers. Sometimes we see the human side of the gospel and wonder whether it can do many mighty works, yet out of the foolishness of preaching the wisdom of God shines forth. Despise not the day of small things, but glory in your infirmity.
3. The instrumental cause — a repetition of the man's name and two commanding words. A miracle seems all the greater when the means are apparently feeble. So in the salvation of men. It is marvellous that poor preaching, a short sentence, should convert great sinners. But the quickening power is not in the words but in the Spirit of the living God.
4. The result. The thunder of Christ's voice was attended by the lightening of His Divine power, and forthwith life flashed into Lazarus and he came forth, and that at once. It is one of the glories of the gospel that it does not require weeks to quicken men.
5. The effect on the bystanders. Some believed; others reported to the Pharisees. Never mind what enemies do so long as sinners are saved.
II. A SINGULAR SPECTACLE.
1. A living man in the garments of death. Some quickened by Divine grace have still their grave clothes about them, and the superficial question their vitality.
2. A moving man bound. So some souls can move away from sin, but seem bound hand and foot as to faith.
3. A repulsive object, but yet attractive — how charming to the sisters! So some sinners are enough to frighten people with their groans, but what Christian does not love to see them?
4. A man strong and yet helpless. Lazarus was able to quit his grave but not his grave clothes. So men have been mightily moved by the Spirit, but unable to enter into the liberty of Christ.
III. A TIMELY ASSISTANCE.
1. What are the bands which often bind newly-awakened sinners?
(1) Ignorance, which we must enlighten.
(2) Sorrow, that we must comfort.
(3) Doubts, that we must resolve.
(4) Fears, that we must assuage.
(5) Prejudices, that we must remove.
(6) Evil habits, that we must help tear off.
2. Why are these bandages left?
(1) Because Christ will not work an unnecessary miracle. Christ is as sparing with the genuine as Rome is prodigal with the counterfeit coin. Men could do this, therefore Christ did not.
(2) That those who came to unwind Lazarus might be sure that he was the same man who died. For some such cause Christ permits a quickened sinner to remain in a measure of bondage that he may know he was the same who was dead in trespasses and sins.
(3) That those disciples might enter into rare fellowship with Christ. It is sweet to do something with Christ for a saved person. It gives us such an interest in Him.
3. Why should we remove these grave clothes?
(1) The Lord has bidden us do so.
(2) But perhaps before conversion we helped to bind them on him, and after by our coldness or unbelief helped to keep them on.
(3) Somebody has helped ours off, and if we cannot repay that individual by a similar service let us do so for someone else.
IV. A PRACTICAL HINT. If Christ employed these disciples in this He would employ us in similar work. Saul is struck down by Christ, but Ananias must visit him that he may receive his sight. The Lord is gracious to Cornelius, but he must hear Peter. Lydia has an opened heart, but only Paul can lead her to Jesus. When the prodigal came home the father personally forgave and restored him; but the servants were told to bring forth the best robe, etc. The father might have done this, but he desired that the whole house should be in accord in the joyful reception. Christ could do all for a sinner, but He does not do so because He wishes all of us to have fellowship with Him.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.