Tradition holds that Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus when he was around the age of thirty. Many speculate that Lazarus went on to live at least thirty more years. Imagine for a moment what life was like for him during those years -AFTER he had died and was called back to life from his tomb?
Could he go anywhere without people gawking or whispering? Was he a target of the paparazzi? Was he a threat to the religious establishment? Did he change his vocation? His last name? Did he play a role in the early church? Did he still struggle with faith?
I wonder if he was like the people of Israel in Exodus, who just days from being freed from Egyptian cruelty and oppression were complaining to God that they were better off as slaves.
John takes great pains to go into lengthy detail about the death and resurrection of Mary’s brother. There are so many curious details to the story in John 11:
First, that Jesus is in no hurry when he hears the news that his good friend Lazarus is sick. In fact, He waits around several days.
Then, Jesus announces to his disciples that Lazarus is dead and that they will be witnesses to what is about to happen next…”so that they might believe.”
When they arrive to site of the tomb, Lazarus has been dead for four days. The story tells us that Jesus wept. He doesn’t seem to cry for Lazarus, butsheds tears ofempathy for those who are grieving.
Before Jesus calls Lazarus from the grave, He prays a very public prayer, again proclaiming that what He is about to do is not for Lazarus but for everyone else…”so that they might believe.” Can you imagine the shock and awe of those moments when at Jesus’ command Lazarus walks from the grave still wrapped in burial dressing?
A good part of the Gospel message of redemption involves language of coming back to life. It seems that Jesus’ concern is not for Lazarus, but for the faith of the people around him. When God does miracles in our lives, I wonder if it doesn’t have more to do with those who are there to witness it than the act itself.
We are often too comfortable in the little caves and strongholds of our lives, while God is calling us to life on the other side of the stone. “Come forth” – from our addictions, from our jealousies, from our greed… not just so that we may have life, but “so that they might believe.”