THE FIRST RAY OF HOPE.
Now, reader, we come to the first ray of hope as we discuss the history of this remarkable man. What was it? Well, look and see for yourself. Jesus, who is the hope of the world, appears on the scene, and when Christ comes to a world, or to a city, or a village, or to a single individual, they can never be the same again. From the night that the angel band swung low in the heavens and the shepherds heard them sing, Peace on earth and good will toward men, the world has never been the same, and can never be the same, for a Savior has come, and thank God has called for us, and there has been new hope and new desires and new expectations, and new prospects, and our up-look from that night until today as a world has been all that was needed; and when we look at that thing that we call future we see a Savior before we see the other end, and then we sing, “There will be no dark valley when Jesus comes, to gather His loved ones home.” as Christ was the first ray of hope to this dark sin-cursed world so is He the first ray of hope to the poor, lost sinner for He is the light of the world.
When Christ appeared in the little village of Bethany four days after the death of Lazarus, there was a ray of hope that settled down over the village, and he had no sooner reached the village than Martha was out to meet Him. When she saw Him she told Him at once that if He had been there her brother had not died. That shows the confidence and the faith that she had in Him although everything goes to prove that she had no idea on earth that Lazarus would ever be resurrected until the end of time. Such a thing, that Lazarus would be resurrected that day, was undreamed of with her. It seemed to be enough for Martha just to know that the Master had come, and when she had unburdened her heart to the Lord she seemed to think that something was going to happen, though she did not know just what it was. As the burden rolled away from her own heart, she at once turned and ran for Mary and said to her, The Master has come and calleth for thee, and we read that Mary arose and went to the place where Jesus was. He had not yet come into the village, and you can see her as she hastens through the village to meet Him; when she met Him she fell down at His feet saying, Lord, if thou hadst been here my brother had not died.
Now, reader, you can see at a glance that neither of these girls had any idea of what the visit of the Master had in store for them. Their poor hearts had been buried with Lazarus, or, in other words, their hopes had. How many times in my meetings have I heard mothers raise a shout because a wayward son had heard the voice of the Son of God and was coming home. I say thanks be unto God for a Christ that will visit a community, lift heavy burdens, comfort sad hearts, lift up the downtrodden, revive the drooping spirits, speak peace to the troubled soul, and revive the hopes of those in despair. And as our blessed Savior walked into the little village of Bethany you can hear Him say, Lift up your heads oh ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. Now just think of the honor of having the blessed Son of God to visit our town or village. Would we ever get over it? Just think of you and Jesus walking the streets of your own town together. The first thing He did when He got to Bethany was to comfort the broken-hearted. Well, the old Book says of Him that He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him. We read of Him in Isaiah, 61:1-3: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” it seems like the above Scripture was written for the little family at Bethany.
We see that Mary and Martha are to be comforted and that their broken hearts are to be bound up and that Christ is to pour in the oil of joy and to give them beauty for ashes, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; and as Lazarus was dead and in the prison of death he was to be set free. You see death had taken him captive and bound him and put him in the tomb of death and Christ said that He was to open the prison to them that were bound. We thank God that when Christ arrived in Bethany, One was there who could handle death. So, dear sinner, there is hope, if the Son of God will only come into the community. Bless His name for the thought that He ever came into the settlement where I lived. I will never let Him hear the last of it, for I, like Lazarus, was a dead man and a bound man and in the tomb and putrified and hopelessly lost, but now I live. Glory to God!