These things said he: and after that he said to them, Our friend Lazarus sleeps; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
I. JESUS IS THE FRIEND OF HIS PEOPLE. Human friendship is the choicest of earthly privileges. How much more the friendship of Christ! (John 16:14, 15). Note the qualities of a true friend.
1. Amiableness, or having those properties which are calculated to attract the heart. We may be grateful to those we cannot esteem, and admire those we cannot love; but to make a friend there must be something lovely. This exists in Christ in the highest degree.
2. Power of wisdom to guide, of strength to support and defend; of riches to help. These all exist in their fulness in Christ.
3. Faithfulness to keep our secrets and to fulfil His promises.
4. Tenderness. Friendship is like a foreign plant which requires delicate treatment. It shrinks from whatever is rough and unfeeling, and cannot confide in rudeness.
5. Unchangeableness. Christ is not a summer friend, who, like the butterfly, flutters round us while the sun is shining, but retires when the sun has gone. He is "a friend horn for adversity." He is "the same today," etc.
II. THE SERVICES WHICH CHRIST DISCHARGES FOR HIS FRIENDS.
1. He sympathizes with them, as one of them sharing their sorrows.
2. He is their abiding companion.
3. He has paid their debts, ransomed their persons, reconciled them to God at the expense of His own life.
4. He has purchased for them an inheritance incorruptible, etc.
5. He has fitted up mansions as the eternal residences of the bodies and souls of His people.
III. TO THE FRIENDS OF CHRIST DEATH HAS CHANGED ITS NATURE. They cannot die, they only sleep. The emblem expresses —
1. "The composure of soul which the Lord gives to His people in the hour of death," "Mark the perfect man," etc.
2. The temporary cessation of the powers of the body to recruit it for fresh service on the resurrection morn (Isaiah 26:19).
(J. H. Stewart, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.