Lazarus. Just the name stirs up so many emotions in the lives of “Jesus followers”. He was a friend of Jesus. He was the brother of Martha and Mary. The New Testament Book of John is where the story of Lazarus is written. If you have ever read the story, you know the details. In John 11, the sisters Martha and Mary send Jesus a message letting him know “the one that you love is sick.” With this sentence, I get the feeling that Jesus really did love Lazarus. We are even told that “Jesus wept” when He was taken to the tomb where Lazarus was laid. They were close friends. I don’t believe that Martha and Mary would have referred to him as “the one Jesus loves” if that was not the case. That sets the tone for the entire story. They send for Jesus to come to Bethany and heal their brother. Jesus has been healing many – I am sure they believed whole-heartedly that Jesus would come and heal “the one that He loved” – one that was His friend – one that He was very close to. As the story goes, Jesus did not go right away. He stayed put where He was for several more days. I believe Jesus knew that Lazarus would die – and a miracle would be performed so that God would be glorified. When Jesus arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had indeed died – he actually had been dead for four days. Speaking for myself, this is when my mind goes into overdrive – and I know the story. The sisters are mad that Jesus didn’t come right away so that Lazarus wouldn’t have died…..Jesus tells Martha “your brother will rise again.” She pretty much tells Jesus that she knew that Lazarus would come back to life in the resurrection, when all those who believe in Jesus will rise again. But Jesus goes on to tell the people there to “move the stone away from the tomb.” Martha warns Jesus that probably isn’t a good idea – Lazarus has been dead 4 days – Martha basically says “he will stink” because the body had begun to decay. This is the story of Lazarus that I know.
“He had been dead 4 days.” If we fast forward to the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:8, we will gain a new perspective on the story of Lazarus. That verse of scripture refers to being “absent from the body and present with the Lord”. Paul placed hope in that. Think about this. If we have had someone whom we love to die, we as believers TRUST those words in 2 Corinthians 5:8 so that we do not worry about where our loved ones are. When my husband Rex died, I was so thankful for the promise that Rex was with our Lord. When my father died, I was so thankful for the promise that my daddy was with our Lord. When my mother died, I was so thankful for the promise that my mama was with our Lord. The story goes on and on for those that we love. So – what about Lazarus? If he had been dead for 4 days, wouldn’t he have been present with God? Don’t we ourselves say of our loved ones, “I am pretty sure that they wouldn’t return from heaven now. It is selfish for me to want them to leave their heavenly home to come back to me.” So – what about Lazarus? If the Bible is true – and I believe it is with my whole heart, Lazarus would have been in heaven, and I am pretty sure he wouldn’t have wanted to come back here. But Jesus called Lazarus back. That wasn’t Lazarus’ choice. But Jesus called him back. That was Jesus’ choice. When Jesus called Lazarus’ name, “Lazarus come out!” John 11:44 explains that Lazarus came out bound in his burial bandages. Before Jesus called Lazarus, he prayed that God would allow the miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection so that the people there “would believe You sent Me.” That’s the reason Lazarus was called back from his heavenly home. But I believe if left up to Lazarus? That would not have been his first choice.