Care for the New-Born
The much-loved stories of Jesus raising souls from the dead are full of spiritual instruction. At the present time we limit our meditation to only three
points, easy to see and understand. The first, we need hardly say, is the comprehensive picture they present of the Saviour's complete victory over the "prince of terrors." The little maiden, Jairus' daughter (Matt. 9, Mark 5, Luke 8) was "at the point of death." The widow of Nain's boy (Luke 7) was dead and being carried to the place of burying. Lazarus (John 11) was "in the grave four days already." No case was beyond our Saviour's power. Very shortly He will "transform our body of humiliation," He will "Subdue all things unto Himself" (Phil. 3: 21). He is declared Son of God with power . . by resurrection of dead persons (Rom. 1: 4).
The second valuable pointer in these stories is the direction in which souls grow when they are under the Divine hand. Of Jairus' daughter we read, "She rose and walked" (Mark 5: 42). The influence of women is great, as both testaments testify; but their testimony is not a public one. Paul speaks of "Keepers at home" (Titus 2: 5), not outward adornment, but good works (1 Tim. 2). Peter is on the same line, the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and the winning conversation of the wives (1 Peter 3). Doubtless the world pattern today is to reverse the role of the sexes, but a godly sister instructed in the word will have no desire to overstep the Divine boundaries.
Jairus' daughter arose and walked. In the case of the widow of Nain's boy, he arose and began to speak. This would seem to be a complementary testimony. The sphere of the brothers is a public one, in prayer, and praise and administration. Paul tells us also that they are to speak "to edification, exhortation and comfort," and Peter says "if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God." Some alas never open their mouths at all, and others speak too much. But at least here we have the Divine pattern. The young man "sat up and began to speak." In the case of Lazarus (John 12) there was a supper. It was a social occasion. Some will see in it a picture of the Lord's supper. Be it one or the other, Lazarus gives us the picture of the conduct and behaviour becoming to those who are raised from the dead. He sat at the table with Him. Such a consciousness with Lazarus adds tone and dignity to the occasion, and it is a model for us.
The third interesting lesson is that there is work to be done by those who stand by and watch the Master in His gracious operations. How wonderful this is. Only He, the Son of God, can raise from the dead, but He invites His own to have a part in the tremendous work which He has accomplished. For the little Maiden (Mark 5: 43) He commanded that something should be given her to eat. Young souls, and older ones too, need food, exactly suited to their age and condition, a skilful matter, and calling for much nearness to the Master. Jesus Himself fed both the disciples (John 21) and the multitudes (in all 4 gospels). Peter was instructed to feed (John 21) and he passes on the exhortation (1 Peter 5). Stewards have to be faithful and wise if they are to give the portion of meat in due season (Luke 12: 42). Paul assessed the situation in each assembly before he wrote his epistles, as the variety shows. And how rich and varied is the diet supplied! "Give ye them to eat" is the Master's word. Then the young man, who sat up and talked, he was delivered to his mother (Luke 7: 15). This is especially touching. The public ministry of the word brings its joys, but also its strains and pressures, which are sometimes overlooked. "My brethren, be not many teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment" (James 3: 1). Faithful ministry can also bring reproach and persecution, as with the prophets of old (Matt. 5: 11 and 12). The Lord takes notice of this situation-with mother care, and who can care like a mother? Israel will prove it so in the tribulation of the coming day, "As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you" (Isa. 66: 13). Today we can prove this comfort in the assembly (Luke 10: 30-37, the two pence perhaps representing spiritual and temporal care). It would seem the Lord Jesus Himself proved this comfort in the days of His sorrowing flesh when He found refreshment in the home in Bethany.
And finally, for Lazarus (John 11: 44) coming forth from the sepulchre, bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face bound about with a napkin, Jesus said (to those that stood by) "Loose him, and let him go." Souls need liberation if they are to sit at table with Him. Liberation from the world (2 Cor. 6: 14 et seq.), from the ecclesiastical systems of men (Heb. 13: 10-13) and from associations that defile (2 Tim. 2: 19-22).
All this, and much more, is the provision of Divine care for new-born souls. The results manifestly redound to the Lord's glory and God's praise.