Summary: First person narrative on the unwrapping of Lazarus.
I was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
My wife was good friends with both Martha and Mary and so when their brother Lazarus died she wanted to go out to the mourning site. We couldn’t go on the first two days because of the work in the field but we went for the third and fourth days.
And really my wife was doing most of the weeping and wailing – you know how it is with women. I just sort of stood off to the side talking with a few of the other guys or helping out if the servants needed help lifting a heavy pot – or whatever. You know, just sort of observing and overseeing the whole thing.
Well, when Jesus showed up that’s when things started to get really interesting. I knew it would – the instant I saw him.
He had been the focus of attention all around the area. Apparently he had performed a lot of miracles. I heard that he fed a whole crowd with just a few pieces of bread. And there are rumors that he turned some water into wine up in Cana.
I didn’t know if that was true but that’s what people were saying. And in general he seemed to stir things up wherever he went. People were either really against him or they were really for him. Some were even saying that he was the Messiah.
So when he shows up at the mourning with his entourage of disciples – a motley crew if you ask me -- I kept an eye on him – as much our of curiosity as anything.
Anyway, he starts walking over toward the tomb – you know what I’m talking about – those small caves hewn from the sides of the hill. After people had died they’d be wrapped in strips of cloth and covered with scented spices – and left on a shelf in the tomb to decay.
Then a big rock would be rolled over the entrance – and that’s how things would be – for about a year. At that point the tomb would be reopened and the bones would be transferred to a ossuary burial box.
Anyway, when Jesus showed up it was only the fourth day – right at the point where the body was starting to decompose. And Jesus walks up to the tomb and tells the servants to move the stone which covered the door.
Martha, quite little beside herself, weary from all of the wailing, looked right at Jesus and told him – “Lord, he’s been in there for four days! If we open that door it’s going to stink something terrible.”
Jesus’s response was something about the glory of God. After which the servants walked over and moved the stone. Jesus then positioned himself in front of the tomb – looked up into heaven, raised his hands, and started to pray – "Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe you sent me."
And all the time I’m thinking – “Okay – what’s that about.”
But then, without even saying Amen – he raises his voice even more and starts to shout into the tomb – “Lazarus, come out.” – as though by his very words he could call life into existence.
There was this long horribly uncomfortable pause – a silence. The birds stopped singing and the breeze ceased. I could smell that horrid scent of death rushing from the open cave door. But no one said a thing. No one whispered. The only sound was that of everyone holding their breathe.
After the eternity of a few seconds passed there was a small noise coming from the tomb – as though someone had tripped and picked himself up. And suddenly but slowly a shoulder emerged in the doorway and then a wrapped head – and a full mummy.
If I wasn’t so shocked I would have run.
You couldn’t see his face because it was wrapped up and the hands and the legs were bound together. And the body shuffled and hopped itself along for two or three feet.
Everyone froze. There was a collective gasp.
And it was at that point that I became the wrong person at the wrong time – for Jesus turned to me and one of the servants I’d been talking to and said – “Don’t just stand there, Unwrap him and let him go!”
Yeah, right, the thing that went through my mind was – YOU WANT ME TO GO UNWRAP SOME ZOMBIE! No way was I going to go near it -– no way -- no way - no way!