Summary: Story of Lazereth
It was so dark, and so cold. He had no idea where he was, how long he had been there or what he was supposed to be doing. The last thing he remembered was being at home in bed. He had been sick; nobody knew what to do or even what was wrong. The doctors had come and gone leaving behind potions and powders that had little effect besides depleting their already meager budget.
It was then that Mary had the idea to send a message to their friend. They had all heard the stories. How the lame walked again, the deaf heard and how he had given sight to the blind.
If anyone could do anything for him it would be Jesus! And so a message was sent, and they waited. And waited and waited. The fever left only to be replaced with chills but soon he was burning up again. The days became fragments as he passed in and out of awareness. He could remember bits and pieces of the conversation, most of it centering either on how sick he was or wondering where Jesus was. Where was Jesus? And then, the girls just cried, every time he opened his eyes there was either Mary or Martha holding his hand and weeping. Why was everyone so sad?
And then there was nothing, well almost nothing. He dreamt that he had died and gone to heaven there he saw his parents and his brother who died as a child. And Moses was there and Elijah and God. But it must have been a dream because it was so bright and so warm, and now it was so dark, and so cold. He had no idea where he was, how long he had been there or what he was supposed to be doing. And then he heard something, it was someone calling his name and they were telling him to come out.
Come out of where? And then as his eyes adjusted to the gloom he realized that he was in some kind of cave, it seemed vaguely familiar and then suddenly he knew he was in the family tomb, laid out on one of the shelves. The last time he had been here they were burying his father, what was he doing here and who was calling his name? He swung his legs clear of the shelf and immediately stumbled against the wall realizing that his legs were loosely bound together. He was wrapped in strips of cloth, even his head was wrapped and he was just able to see shapes and light through the gauze that covered his eyes. What type of nightmare had he awoken into? What was happening to him? Slowly he shuffled his way to the light streaming through the low entrance toward the familiar voice calling his name. And as he ducked through the opening he heard screams of terror mixed with screams of joy, as the bandages fell away from his eyes he looked around at the crowd he saw his sisters and Jesus and Jesus told the people “Unwrap him and let him go!”
A tale fitting of the X-files don’t you think. A man dies and is buried and then in front of a crowd of witnesses his grave is opened and he is discovered alive. Certainly Mulder and Scully could have had some fun with this Tale from the Crypt.
But what can we learn from the story of Lazarus? And how does it apply to us, what spiritual application can we find in this story?
The first thing we need to realize is that Lazarus Was Dead. John 11:39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man’s sister, said, “Lord, by now the smell will be terrible because he has been dead for four days.”
He wasn’t just sick or not feeling well, he hadn’t gone into the tomb to lie down and take a nap, the man was dead. He had been sick, didn’t get better and he died. That’s the way that life works, Robin Williams said “Death is nature’s way of saying, Your table’s ready.” Well, Lazarus’s table was certainly ready.
Now I’m sure that there are those that thought that maybe Lazarus wasn’t really dead, maybe he had just been in a coma and woke up when Jesus called him. Quite a coincidence wouldn’t you say? That the man had been declared dead, been wrapped in a funeral shroud and laid in a tomb and four days later at just the time that Jesus ordered that the stone be rolled away he awoke from his coma.
Let’s skip the conspiracy theories and acknowledge that the man was dead. Martha knew he was dead, Mary knew that he was dead, Jesus knew he was dead, the crowd knew he was dead, Lazarus was dead. What was it that Ebenezer Scrooge said about his partner “Marley was dead to begin with, old Marley was as dead as a door nail.” And so was Lazarus.