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St. John' has recorded, there are many points which demand our consideration. The man had been born blind, “that the works of God should be made manifest in him ;” and they were manifested in him with glorious splendour. He who was “the light of the world” shone upon him, and he saw. Many questions have been asked on the subject of Christ's making clay of spittle, anointing the eyes of the blind man with it, and sending him to wash them in the pool of Siloam, the sanative properties of whose waters had become proverbial among the Jews. As we have remarked on a former occasion, we must not suppose any medical virtue to have been in the clay and the spittle, but that Jesus so acted in accommodation to a prevalent custom ; for the Jews believed that spittle was efficacious against diseases of the eye, if it were accompanied with a particular charm. It seems, therefore, that Christ used the clay and spittle to draw the attention of the bystanders to the miracle, and to convince them of the absence of all imaginary spells, and certify them that it proceeded from his own omnipotence. Of all the conjectures respecting the motive of the act, this is the most plausible.
This miracle was another of those which the Jews
Chap. ix. 1—23.
accounted an infringement of the Sabbath ; and the examination, to which they subjected both the healed man and his parents, showed the determination with which they sought the death of Christ. But the miracle was not an infringement of the Sabbath. The law forbade servile and unnecessary work on that day, but not acts of mercy. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. The division in opinion respecting Christ, which took place among the Pharisees, and the resolution to eject from the synagogue all who should confess that He was the Messiah, are evidences of the very many adherents which He had acquired. The Pharisees were perfectly aware that no impostor could have performed this and the other miracles which Jesus did; but they dreaded their effect on the public mind. When the healed man confessed that Christ was a prophet, he denied that the Sabbath had been violated; for the Jews received it as a doctrine, that a prophet might dispense with the observation of the Sabbath, being supposed to be under celestial direction. The arguments which he used were clear and forcible. It is therefore not strange that he should have been cast out of the synagogue, that he should have become Christ's disciple, and have worshipped Him as the Son of God.
The raising of Lazarus was a magnificent display of the power and glory of God, and the miracle was performed for that purpose, with a view also of evidencing the general resurrection. Every circumstance connected with this miracle forcibly attests its reality. The question whether Lazarus was actually dead is absurd, for the Jews considered that bodies kept beyond three days would become corrupt; but Lazarus had been buried four days, which circumstance created a doubt in his sister's mind, whether Jesus really had the power to raise him from his corruption. A more pathetic scene perhaps was never witnessed during our Lord's ministry upon the earth. There were the two sisters of the dead man mourning for their lost brother, Jesus going to the grave of him whom He loved, and giving at his arrival a strong proof of his humanity by weeping. “ Jesus wept."
The Mighty God was moved with compassion and wept. We might enquire why Jesus should have been so moved, when He knew that He had the power to restore him to life. Was there any doubt in his mind of the extent of that power? Oh! no.
Oh! no. The scene around was enough to move his tender love, and perhaps that scene might have reminded Him of the sufferings He Himself was about to undergo. Or He might have wept, for the consequences of sin, which were now before Him-death; or, perhaps, on account of the unbelief of the Jews : at all events there is sufficient in the narrative to preclude the possibility of his being moved through any idea of a want of power on his part to restore Lazarus to his family. Jesus knew that Lazarus would be raised by his power. For, said He, when He heard Lazarus was sick, “ This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby," which words have been conjectured to contain the message, which Christ returned to Martha and Mary by the person whom they had sent to Him. And they were verified by the merely temporary, not final, privation of life, which Lazarus underwent. In order to display his glory the more, He waited two days ere He commenced his journey, and when He arrived, Lazarus had been four days in his grave; but at his Divine command the dead man came forth, bound hand and foot with his grave-clothes, reinvested with all the principles of life. The effect of the miracle was instantaneous, and beyond all dispute—the Jews, and many of the former enemies of our Lord, “ believed in him.”
If we examine the miracle, we shall find in it much that is striking. Ere the death of Lazarus had been notified to Jesus, and ere He had arrived at Bethany, He plainly informed his disciples, that Lazarus was dead. This knowledge was a miracle in itself equal to that which succeeded it: it displayed Christ's omniscience, as the other displayed his omnipotence. Without leaving the place of his retirement beyond the Jordan, He might by a word or by his will have restored Lazarus to life; but his crucifixion being at hand, and the miracle itself being appointed one of its apparent causes, He resolved, ere He returned to his father, to give public and practical evidence of the doctrine of the resurrection, which was a fundamental article in his religion. From Martha's and Mary's words, “ Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died,” it appears that they imagined that Christ could heal the sick, when present with them only, but not at a distance from them, though there were recorded miracles of the latter sort. It is also evident, that they believed the doctrine of the resurrection as the Jews believed it. By cominanding the stone to be removed, Christ afforded evidence that Lazarus was actually dead; and because of the bystanders, that they might believe him sent by God, (ver. 42,) He gave thanks to the eternal Father, ere He summoned the dead to come forth. The Jews having ascribed many of his miracles to Beelzebub, and it having been a common opinion, that miracles were wrought by the power and in the name of the Devil, Jesus appears to have thus acted that this might be ascribed to God. At his omnipotent fiat, the grave surrendered