Christ Calling Mary
William Nicholson, 1862
"Martha called Mary her sister secretly, saying: 'The Master has come, and calls for you.' As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him!" John 11:28, 29.
The sentence of death has passed upon all men, in that all have sinned. Life is uncertain. Death is no respecter of people. The loveliest, the dearest, the wisest, and the most pious, must die. How happy to have a consoling friend at hand, when the last enemy throws his mortal darts into the family circle!
The preceding verses refer to the death of a beloved brother, belonging to a pious family in Bethany. The removal of their brother deeply affected them. But they had a friend in Christ. News of the sickness of Lazarus had been communicated to Christ, but "When he had heard therefore that Lazarus was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was." John 11:6. But Jesus knew all things — the end from the beginning, and therefore he said, "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby!" John 11:4.
When the sublime purposes of his mind were ready for development, he said, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." John 11:11.
As Jesus drew near to Bethany, Martha "went and met him," when an interesting conversation took place. Then Martha called Mary, as in the text.
I. The Official Character of Christ:The Master. The word master is variously used in the Scriptures; sometimes merely as a mode of address, Mark 10:17; sometimes it denotes those who have rule over servants, Ephesians 6:5; sometimes it means a teacher, John 3:10, and even ministers and preachers of the word, Ecclesiastes 12:11.
But Christ applies this term to himself, see Matthew 23:8-10; see also John 13:13, 14. The same term is applied to him, Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1.
1. This implies authority. He was sent for this purpose. "Whom he has appointed heir of all things." See John 3:2. Hence his credentials are Divine.
2. As a teacher, Christ possessed infinite wisdom. He is the "Light of the world." "Day-spring from on high to visit us." "Bright and morning star." "Sun of Righteousness." The "only wise God" who is made unto us "Wisdom." The darkness of man's mind required such a Teacher.
3. As a teacher, Christ is Supreme. "One is your Master." He is the only "Head of the Church." The word Master is synonymous with Lord. And as such he is "Lord of all." "All things were created by him," etc., Colossians 1:15-18. He has "all power," etc. Angels, devils, men, the world, the universe, are subject to his control. He is . . .
the only Lawgiver,
the only Ruler, and
the only effectual Teacher.
What are synods, councils, convocations, etc.? "One is your Master." "Call no man father," Matthew 23:9.
As the master, or Lord, he has his disciples and servants, 2 Timothy 2:21.
4. As a teacher, Christ is infinitely kind and compassionate. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are" Hebrews 4:15. He pities our ignorance, weaknesses, infirmities, etc.
5. As a teacher, Christ is impartial in all his dealings with his people. "There is no favoritism with him." Ephesians 6:9
6. This implies that Jesus' teaching is effectual. "Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45
II. The Coming of Christ."The Master has come."
1. He has come from Heaven to earth. John 1:14; Hebrews 2:14; 1 Timothy 3:16.
2. He has come as a Divine Savior. He became incarnate, but he was Divine. This is proved by Scripture — by the testimony of God — by the testimony of his enemies — by his miracles. John 5:31-47.
As such he fulfilled the law — endured its penalty, and magnified and made it honorable. He has come as the great High priest to atone for the sins of his people. He has atoned. "It is finished." "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." Romans 8:3.
3. He has come as the King and Ruler of his Church. He has promulgated his laws, and granted immunities and privileges. He will spread his rule, and protect his people to the end.
4. He has come as the Resurrection and the Life, and the Author of eternal salvation. John 11:25. "Who alone has immortality." "I am come that you might have life," etc. How interesting was this character to Martha and Mary!
III. The Call."The Master has come, and calls for you!"
1. He calls by the preaching of the Gospel. "Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." "He has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:19
2. He calls by the influences of his Spirit, John 16:7-11. By that Spirit, he calls upon sinners and enlightens them, comforts his people in all their afflictions, etc.
3. He calls by his providential dispensations. The Master of Providence has come in that affliction, that bereavement, etc., to awaken you, and call you into his service.
4.He calls by the entreaties of his people. It is their duty to call men to God — to recommend his service. "O come, taste, and see!" etc.
IV. The Effect of This Call.The effect on Mary was obedience, which was:
1. Immediate. "As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him!"
2. It was prompt. "Arose quickly." The sinner must not confer with flesh and blood, nor with friends. It is vastly important. Compliance is connected with eternity.
3. To comply with this call, implies a sense of need of Christ, repentance, faith.
Conclusion: "The Master has come, and calls for you!" He calls for you who have long sat under the sound of the Gospel. For you who are convinced — and are groaning to be delivered from guilt. For you who have talents, and may be useful. For you young people — and aged also. For you, you conflicting and distressed believers. For you who are appointed unto death. He calls you to rest, to glory.