Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.…
(For a Communion: text and Matthew 28:20): — Like many passages these seem in contradiction; but if we grasp their deeper meaning they harmonize. Christ has given us a memorial of Himself in the Lord's Supper — a gem with two facets; on the one is written "Me ye have not always;" on the other, "Lo, I am with you alway." They remind us that we have in Christ —
I. ONE WHO IS HUMAN AND DIVINE.
1. "Me," etc. There is something very human and touching in this farewell, which comes at first like a hint, and afterwards became more plain. And the absence of the personal Saviour from our Communion reminds us always of His death, and therefore of His true humanity. "Forasmuch as the children," etc. Let not the thought of His Divinity take away from our view of Him a single fibre of His true humanity. In this memorial of His death, "Behold the sign."
2. But "Lo," etc., reminds us that we have a Saviour who is Divine. So in the memory of His death we must realize His Divinity. The promise is not completed in the continuance of His words, example, influence, death, memorials going down from age to age. It is the promise of a presence which implies an omnipresence: so that at every Communion He is Divinely repeating the words, "This is My body." And if here, then everywhere — to protect, guide, comfort to the end.
II. ONE WHOSE DEATH AS OUR SAVIOUR IS ALL-IMPORTANT AND NOT LESS HIS LIFE.
1. His death is the first truth which meets us in the Supper, "Me," etc. He instituted it that His death might be kept in memory, and the manner of it — broken body and shed blood — the memorials twice put into our hands that by two witnesses every word might be established. It is impossible to account for this without believing that His death was of supreme importance. Nor can we read the Bible without seeing this. The Old Testament points forward, and the Apostles point back to this. The Incarnation may serve other ends, but the first end to us is that Christ was "made lower than the angels for the suffering of death," etc.
2. But the other word must be spoken by one who is to be a complete Saviour. The Resurrection is connected with the death as the seal and assurance of its success. We have a monument of each — the Lord's table and the Lord's day, "Who was delivered for our offences," etc.
III. ONE WHO PRESIDES OVER THE WORLD WHERE WE ARE GOING AND OVER THE WORLD IN WHICH WE NOW ARE. "It is expedient for you," etc. Christ goes up before, that He may lead the way and say, Come; but He comes to guide and guard on the journey to the place He has gone to prepare. If we had a Saviour only in heaven, we might doubt if ever we should reach heaven. So we have Him there in the noonday, here in the twilight; there amid the palms of victory, here in the heat of battle. "For to this end Christ both died and rose," etc.
(J. Ker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.