CHRIST INQUIRES ABOUT THE DEAD MAN.
Now we have come to the eighth stage in the history of this man Lazarus. We have just discussed the first ray of hope and Christ the resurrection and the life. The next thing that we want to notice is Christ not only in town and not only the resurrection and the life, but now he makes inquiry about the dead man. Listen to His own words. He says: “Where is he?” Now it begins to look like He meant just what He said when He said that I am the resurrection and the life. Here He is in town and He said I am the resurrection, and He said, Where is he? No doubt those old Jews said, Well, He claims to be the resurrection and the life, but He will never go to the grave of Lazarus, for they knew that Lazarus was a dead man, not a sick man, – no put on about it, for they had helped to bury him and they had been there four days weeping with Martha and Mary.
Now, mother, if Jesus comes to town and makes inquiry about your dead boy whom you know is dead in trespasses and in sins, whatever you do, never stop until you get Christ to come to the grave of your boy and call him out of the tomb of spiritual death and set him free. Christ says, Where is he, and He acts just like He wanted to find him. I believe that those old Jews began to feel a little shaky, for here is Christ right in town and Lazarus has been dead already four days. At once Christ proceeds to tell just what He can do, and He said that He could raise a dead man to life; and now He goes so far as to ask about Lazarus and says, Where is he? it really looks like He wanted to find him; but at this moment a few of those old Jews believed that something might be done. Some of them were still hard and cold and critical, and watched Him with an evil eye, and tossed their heads and said, Oh well, the Pharisees have proven Him to be an impostor, but a man of faith can begin to feel revival fire in the air, and already the people are beginning to talk meeting and some of the hardest cases in town have have been asking when the revival would start, if the revivalist had come, and if they thought he would be a success. Praise the Lord, He has come and He is a great success, and we are just as sure to have revival before He leaves town, as the world stands. Glory to His name!
Just here we read that some of the Jews went their way. Oh yes, the world is still going their way, and it is an awful way. Just think of a man turning away from the blessed Son of God and going his way; where will his way lead him, do you think? Down to the pit of eternal despair, of course. But thank God, Christ is in town, and has already said, I am the resurrection and life. He has already inquired about Lazarus and asked, Where is he? Oh, reader, if I could have felt that Christ was inquiring about me, it would have almost tickled me to death. Today there are not less than 5000,000 men and women in the United states, who, if they could just feel that Christ loves them well enough to inquire about them, would get saved in the next forty-eight hours; but they are down and nobody cares for them and the devil tells them that Christ will ruin them if they give Him their lives; that He will rob them of all of their pleasure and fun. While he lies on the Son of God he doesn’t tell them that he himself has made them miserable and wretched and hopeless and friendless and homeless. What a vile devil he is. He tells them that God is a hard Master and for them to never trust Him with their lives; at the same time while he deceives them he keeps them blinded to the awful effect of sin on the human family, and while he has broken hearts, robbed heaven, populated hell, broken up homes, wrecked lives and disgraced whole communities, he is so sly and subtle that he keeps all of this in the background.
The devil will say to a man, serve me and I will make you a happy man, and turn around and rob him of his manhood and swing him off of the gallows by the neck, and put him in hell and laugh at him as he goes down. The other sinners will stand by and see the whole thing and go right on in the service of the devil. Didn’t the word of God call him a deceiver, and a devil and a serpent and a dragon and Satan, and the accuser of the brethren? How many women he has robbed of every hope and laughed at their dying groans and mocked them as they tried to call on God for mercy in the jaws of death. Yet the women are almost as bad as men and will flirt with the world or die, and go to an awful hell in spite of the grace of God, and the blood of Jesus Christ and the prayers of God’s people. And in the face of wreck and ruin the devil well tell men that if they will follow him he will give them freedom.
Well, I saw 1,036 the other day in one of the state prisons behind the wall with striped clothes on that the devil had set free, and I just watched them, as the overseers looked on, and wondered if they were out if they would give up sin and follow the blessed Son of God and enjoy real freedom; or would they go into sin again and get back into the pen and go on enjoying the devil’s freedom. You see, the devil’s freedom is a bloated face and a big stomach and a red nose and greasy breeches and run down shoes, a slouch hat, and no home, no friends, and jails and prisons and scaffolds. Doesn’t that look like freedom?