Page images
PDF
EPUB

himself, and by no means assuming the appearance which the Messiah was expected to assume. Therefore the opinions of men were still divided about him, as they had been at his former visits. And when he now returned to them, they immediately came round him, to gain satisfaction to their minds. "How long," said they, "dost thou keep us in doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly." Now it is clear, that if they had been disposed to believe, the evidence which he had laid before them in his doctrine and miracles, was ample. It was because they did not like the character in which he appeared, that they doubted. If he had come in majesty and power, like the princes of the world; denouncing woes on the oppressors of the nation, like Jeremiah; and like the Maccabees, sounding the trumpet and lifting the standard; then they would have believed. It was in vain, therefore, that he attempted to explain himself to them. They were wedded to their own notions; they were fixed in their own prejudices; they would not understand him. They carped at his words; they perverted his meaning; they took up stones once more to stone him; they sought to seize his person. But he again escaped from them; and after having passed, as it appears, less than a day in the city, he quitted it, as if hopeless of doing any good to so conceited and prejudiced a people.

CHAPTER XII.

JESUS RETIRES BEYOND THE JORDAN-RAISES LAZARUS-RETURNS TO GALILEE - HIS

VISITS NAZARETH AGAIN.

PARABLES-HE

HAVING thus quitted Jerusalem, our Lord passed over the Jordan, and took up his abode for a time at Bethabara, where John had formerly baptized. Many resorted to him there, and he increased the number of his disciples. It is thought, that it was during his residence here, that the seventy disciples returned to him. He had sent them out, soon after the twelve apostles and with similar instructions, to preach in the villages. The return of the Twelve is nowhere recorded, nor is any thing related of the course or effects of their ministry. Some of them at least, perhaps all of them, were with him at the present time; but when they joined him is not said. The return of the Seventy is particularly mentioned by Luke, but he gives no history of what they had done, or where they had been. He simply states, that they came to their Master "with joy," especially exulting that the demons were subject to them in his name. Jesus sympathized in their feeling, and cried out, "I beheld Satan as light

[blocks in formation]

ning fall from heaven;" thus expressing the rapidity with which the dominion of evil and sin was falling before the spread of his truth. He added, that he had given them power to effect this great work, in spite of all opposition, and to triumph over all enemies. Then, knowing how easily their pride might be excited by this distinction, he cautioned them not to boast themselves in the possession of miraculous power, but to count it their true cause of joy, that their names were written in heaven.

"In that hour," says Luke, "Jesus rejoiced in spirit," and broke out into a loud thanksgiving. It is the only instance in which he is said to have exhibited an emotion of this nature. It is a solitary example, in the midst of a life of anxiety and toil, of his giving way to a feeling of gladness and exultation. The story of his humble followers, recounting their labors and animated by success, seems to have brought up to his mind a vision of the great and joyful triumph which should. hereafter attend the preaching of his truth. He caught a glimpse of that glorious result, which was to compensate all his toil. It cheered him under the recollection of his late rejection at Jerusalem, and led him to congratulate his disciples, saying, "Blessed are the eyes, which see the things which ye see.'

John xi.

While Jesus remained at Bethabara, he received a message from the sisters in Bethany, informing him of the illness of his friend Lazarus. The affectionate intimacy existing between the Saviour and this family, is touchingly indicated in the words of the message he received;-" Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest, is sick." And the evangelist John, who was doubtless with his Master at this time, adds, that " Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Still, though he knew that they had sent to him with the desire that he should come to them, he for two days remained where he was, and left them to their anxiety. He would willingly do any thing for them, but he meditated some greater good than their immediate relief. It is often the order of Providence to inflict suffering for a time, in order to the way prepare for blessing. So these sisters were left to mourn, that they might the more rejoice.

To the great surprise of his disciples, our Lord at length proposed to go back to Judea. What, said they, when the Jews so lately attempted your life, will you unwisely return and put yourself in their power? But when they learned that Lazarus was dead, they readily consented to accompany him; and it is worth remarking, that it was Thomas, the disciple afterwards so slow to credit his resurrection, who now expressed in

strong terms the devoted affection they bore their "Let us go too," said he, that we may him, we will

Master.
die with him." If the Jews stone
share his fate.

66

They left Bethabara, crossed the Jordan, and proceeded toward Bethany. He might have raised Lazarus while at a distance, as he had healed the Centurion's son at Capernaum. But he preferred to take the long journey, (the distance was about thirty miles,) because he designed to glorify God and establish his own claims by a signal work; and he would have all its attendant circumstances solemn and striking.

Lazarus had been four days buried when they reached Bethany. It was therefore in the midst of the seven days of mourning, and the friends of the family, from Jerusalem and elsewhere, were with the sisters, making the customary visits of condolence. On hearing of his arrival, Martha rushed out to meet him; but, though overjoyed at his coming, she showed how disappointed and hurt she had been at his neglecting to come sooner. "If thou hadst been here," said she, my brother had not died." Yet she ventured to hint a hope, that he would do something for them. But that she little expected it, is evident; for when Jesus kindly hastened to assure her, that her brother should rise again, she answered, as if that did not satisfy her, "I know that he will rise again in the

66

« PreviousContinue »