July 15, 2017
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“He…leadeth them out…He goeth before them, and the sheep follow him.”
“The shepherd does not drive his sheep, but leads them wherever he wants to take them. At night he leads them into the fold for safety. In the morning he leads them out to pasture. So Christ never drives His people; He goes before them and leads them, and they follow Him.”
“He leadeth me! O blessed thought!
O words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whatever I do, where ‘er I be,
Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.
Sometimes ‘mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes where Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, o’er troubled sea
Still ‘tis His hand that leadeth me!
Lord, I would clasp my hand in Thine,
Nor ever murmur nor repine;
Content, whatever let I see,
Since ‘tis my God that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me.”
Today’s Study Text:
“When (Jesus) had said this, He shouted with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out’”
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 39
“The Mighty Megaphone”
“Jesus said to (Martha), ‘I am (Myself) the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in and trusts in and relies on Me, although they may die, yet shall they live’” (John 11:25, Amplified Bible).
When I hear the word “resurrection,” what comes to my mind?
How has the fact that Jesus is the Resurrection and Life changed my life?
“Hark! O’er the silent grotto-tomb
They hear the music of His voice,
The summons – ‘Lazarus, come forth!’
In trembling transport they rejoice.”
J. R. Macduff
“I hunted all through the four Gospels trying to find one of Christ’s funeral sermons, but I couldn’t find any. I found He broke up every funeral He ever attended! Death couldn’t exist where He was.”
D. L. Moody
Over the past several weeks as we have lifted the veil of time and joined the family in Bethany, whose love for their Master, Jesus Christ brought a fragrance into their lives as nothing before, we have been able to witness how the tender watch-care of the Savior became a balm upon their broken hearts especially when the sudden death of the brother Lazarus shattered the tranquility that infused the lives of Mary and Martha who were touched by Jesus’ repeated visits.
Sadly, when the enemy we call “death” struck without warning, even as the heavenly Life-Giver walked the earth, the sorrowful hearts of Lazarus’ two sisters overflowed in painful anguish. Standing by the grave of their beloved brother, these two family members mirrored the heartache that walks the highways of time – even to this very day.
But rather than focus on the tears today, our study turns to Jesus – standing in front of a corpse, set within a rock-hewn tomb. I believe that only an eye-witness to the events which transpired on that memorable day in Bethany could have left such a detailed record of all that happened and so we turn to the words of the Apostle John who in a sentence composed of just a few words tells us that after Jesus prayed to His Father, “He cried with a loud voice” (John 11:43, K.J.V.). I wanted to dig a little deeper into these words: “cried,” “loud,” and “voice,” so I got out my Greek dictionary where I found that the word “cried” means to “clamor in grief.” In English, the word clamor is used to describe a “vehement expression of protest.”
This is a phrase I want us to keep in our minds as we look at the words “loud” and “voice”. In Greek the word “loud” means “mêgas” which is the root of a familiar word in the English language that refers to something used to enhance the volume of a voice – a megaphone. And finally, in the Greek the word “voice” means “an articulate tone.”
I wish I was an accomplished enough writer to properly convey in words what this scene must have been like. I will just humbly say that as Jesus finished thanking His gracious Father for the assurance that His prayer would be answered, even before He uttered words to the corpse, that not only had His Father heard Him but He had also answered His Son’s prayer.
Then with His eyes like a lazar on the open mouth of the tomb, we are told that Jesus cried out, clamoring in grief with a vehement expression of protest, He clearly and articulately spoke as if with a megaphone projecting the sound of every word: “Lazarus, come forth!” I can’t begin to get a grip on what it would have been like to have stood next to Mary and Martha and see their faces at the moment when a motion was visual and a rustling noise was heard coming from that grave. Who could have imagined that Jesus would have done what a split second before would have been called the impossible. But that’s our God! With Him the unthinkable transpires by the sound of His voice.
Just so we get the full import of what happened, many Biblical scholars believe that the reason Jesus called Lazarus by name is that had He just said, “Come forth,” every grave would have opened and released its captive. Death was impossible when confronted by Jesus.
I want to share how J.R. Macduff paints his most inspiring word picture of the moment at the tomb of Lazarus:
“A group has gathered around the Sepulchral grotto – the Redeemer stands in meek majesty in front – the teardrops still glistening in His eyes. Martha and Mary are gazing on His countenance (with profound) emotion, while the eager bystanders bend over the removed stone to see if the dead be still there. Yes! In uninvaded silence – attired still in the same solemn drapery. The Lord gives the word ‘Lazarus come forth,” which peals through the silent vault. The dull, cold ear seems to listen. The pulseless heart begins to beat – the rigid limbs to move – Lazarus lives! He rises in the swaddling-bands of the tomb, once more to walk in the light of the living.”
No one could have said it better. The Son of Man, the Life-Giver of heaven and earth has given hope to every hurting heart. But there’s one other thing that caught my attention and it happens to be that word “clamor” which means “a vehement expression of protest.” For a moment I want us to visualize our Savior with the largest megaphone possible in His hand. As He speaks and shouts loudly, He protests! But what is it that brought out such an emotional response from Jesus as expressed by the disciple John in his record of this day?
If we think back on the ministry of Jesus, there were three times when He chose to bring the dead to life. The first story is found in Mark 5:41-43 when Jesus raised the young daughter of Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue. The second story is told by Dr. Luke in Luke 7:11-13. Jesus came upon a funeral and a widowed mother was now preparing to bury her only son and we are told, “Jesus had compassion on her.” And now, the third event takes place at the tomb of Jesus’ beloved friend. It is here, where with a voice like a megaphone, I believe our Savior cried out in protest at the top of His voice, “This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. Death is an intruder. Death isn’t normal. And death will not win.” Let us ever look at what happened in Jesus’ presence! For a day will come when the anthem of the entire universe will be “O death where is Thy sting? O grave where is thy victory?” The promise is sure for Jesus will say, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead” (Ephesians 5:14, Amplified Bible). “Your dead shall live O Lord, the bodies of our dead shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy” (Isaiah 26:19, Amplified Bible).
This is the hope of every person who has stood in the place of Mary and Martha with their tears watering the earth and a heartache that never seems to go away. This is your hope and mine – today! In one of my favorite texts in all of Scripture, the Apostle Paul tells us: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first. Then we, the living ones who remain on the earth, shall simultaneously be caught up along with the resurrected dead in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always through the eternity of the eternities shall we be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4: 16, 17, Amplified Bible).
What a day that will be. The last time there will be the need for a megaphone to call forth our beloved from the dead for death will be destroyed. No wonder the Apostle Paul told his Christian friends in Thessalonica that they should “comfort and encourage one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4: 18, Amplified Bible). This is why Clement of Alexander could pen these words of hope – “Christ has turned all our sunsets into dawn.” Praise be to our risen Lord!
“Angels, sing on! Your faithful watches keeping;
Sing us sweet fragments of the song above;
Till morning’s joy shall end the night of weeping,
And life’s long shadows break in cloudless love.”
“Christ our life,
You are alive
in the beauty of the earth
in the rhythm of the seasons
in the mystery of time and space
Christ our life,
You are alive
in the tenderness of touch
in the insights of solitude
Christ our life,
You are alive
to offer re-creation
to every unhealed hurt
to every deadened place
to every damaged heart
You set before us a great choice.
Therefore we choose life.
The dance of resurrection soars and
surges through the whole creation.”
“O Lord God, our Father. You are the light that can never be put out; and now give us a light that shall drive away all darkness…You are the life that defies death, and You have opened for us the way that leads to eternal life…let the light of our risen Lord reach every corner of our dull hearts.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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