by Pastor Rodney Tilley
This week I would like to talk to you about “Lazarus”, but not to be confused with the heavy metal band by that same name, nor the rapper from Detroit. No, I would like to talk to you about Lazarus in the Bible and as far as I know he did not even sing, much less sing in a band, but he did make quite a scene in Bethany. You see, Lazarus and his family were friends of Jesus and Lazarus had a few medical problems and that is where the story begins in John 11.
Lazarus and his sisters were at home when all of sudden, Lazarus becomes sick and passes away, and Jesus is not to be found. Jesus had taken a trip to another town and when Mary and Martha, who were the sisters of Lazarus, called for Jesus to come quickly, Jesus takes his own sweet time, and arrives in Bethany four days late. The sisters who are definitely upset tell Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21). They thought and knew it was too late, but Jesus knew otherwise, and with just a few words Jesus calls out to Lazarus in the grave, “Come forth,” and with a limp and a startle, Lazarus comes walking out of the tomb to everyone’s amazement.
It sounds so fairytale, but the story does not end there, and the fairytale soon ends. According to church tradition, Lazarus lives for another 30 years, but for most of those years, he is running for his life. Those in Bethany and Jerusalem later try to kill him and he flees to Cyprus where he is appointed to the church in Larnaca, Cyprus. He lived out the remainder of his life there, but again according to church records, he never once joked nor smiled for all those 30 years.
And you may ask “why” as I do? I think I know the answer for Lazarus had been to his eternal home, and unfortunately had been called back to earth and to the problems remaining here. Everybody was happy that he had been resurrected back to life here on earth, that is, everybody except Lazarus. You see, if you had been in paradise, enjoying life with your Heavenly Father, you would have been upset too.
This last week, we too had the loss of friends, friends of Jesus, and at times we too dreamed of their return. But the return would have been a selfish one, for they too are in their eternal homes and why would they want to return. Why would we want them to go through all that pain again, only to die once more? I admit, it was more for me than for them, and like the sisters of Lazarus, I must understand that life with Jesus is much more to be desired than my life with them or Lazarus. You see Jesus is our Savior, but he also said that he called us his “friends” (John 15:15), and his friendship is perfect and true.
So the next time we wish for loved ones to return, remember Lazarus, and put a smile on your face for soon and very soon, we too will join our friends, loved ones, and our best friend, Jesus. And with a stern recommendation we will say, “Lazarus, stay put,” and he will, never to return again.