Lazarus’ Hope

It wasn’t even light out yet, but he gingerly grabbed his tunic and tiptoed from the house. Lazarus was eager to see Jesus, eager to experience the day. Besides, his sisters had all but hovered over him since the previous morning. He chuckled just thinking of it, their faces when he’d walked out of that grave. It was like some marvelous dream.

Lazarus walked among the tall trees, enjoying the breeze that whistled through the branches, through his hair. He was breathing in the beauty of it all when Aaron came sprinting up the hillside. “Lazarus!” He yelled in a panicky voice, striding to Lazarus’ side. Not stopping to catch his breathe, Aaron grasped his friend by the shoulders. “You must flee, my friend! I came as straight as I heard the rumors! They…they want to execute you!” Lazarus gave him a sharp look. “They?” “Yes,” Aaron gasped: “The chief priests! They’ve got their minds set on it. Oh Lazarus, you must escape!” Having delivered the news, Aaron stared into his neighbor’s eyes. How peculiar. Lazarus didn’t look upset. He didn’t look terrified. In fact, he looked pretty darn relaxed. “What’s the matter with you?! Didn’t you my news?” Aaron asked. And Lazarus began to laugh. Laugh of all things! “Aaron, didn’t you hear my news? I was dead. Rotting in the tomb for four days, and then Jesus came and raised me back to life. I can’t see how this is all that frightening.” He beckoned to Aaron with a smile, “Come along. I’m going to see Jesus.”


The men found the Savior at the water’s edge, watching the sunrise. Orchestrating it into being. “Rabbi,” Lazarus called. Jesus turned and embraced Lazarus. “My friend, how is the new day treating you?” The three men chatted as the world around them morphed into day. “Come with me,” Jesus then said. “Let us go into the city. I’m in need of a small donkey.”


“Oh how beautiful it was,” Mary related to her aunt over supper. “Wasn’t it, Lazarus?” Her brother nodded emphatically, wondering how many had come to worship Jesus on that morning. Right, well it was nearly a week past that day and the palm branches had long since been cleaned from the streets. But was Lazarus the only one who noticed the subtle change in the atmosphere? The lengthy meetings and closed doors. What were the chief priests up to? Interrupting his thoughts, Martha walked in with a jar of fresh water, setting it carefully by the door. “Jesus is gathering the twelve in a house near the garden tonight,” she said with haste. “I saw them on my way back from the well. Something is going on, something truly is going on. His face was stricken with such pain, I hardly recognized him.” The instant the word escaped her mouth, Aaron darted through the door, once again looking gravely concerned. Mary caught the glint of a tear in his eye. “They are going to crucify Him,” he declared, his voice breaking. “The crowds are already stirring, and I’ve heard whispers that they paid Judas off to do it!” His eyes search those of his friends, longing for some hope. Something. But the women all looked aghast, tears welling in their eyes. Lazarus had heard the Messiah speak of this moment, just like the others had. But now that it was staring him in the face, Lazarus didn’t know what to do. Yet, he knew he had to be there.


The fire created an eerie shadow on the courtyard walls, and Lazarus grimaced as he stood in the cold black night. It had taken him far too long to reach Jesus, and now he had to listen in agony as they jested and judged Him. On his walk, Lazarus had given a lot of thought to this turn of events, trying to reconcile the goodness of his Messiah and the hatred that was laid upon Him. How could they despise the Man who had given Lazarus a chance to truly live?

The question haunted him, lodging itself in his brain as the night when on and he followed Jesus from one trial to the next. Before he knew it, the sun was rising and the people were declaring “Give us Barabbas!” And their vile spit flew through the air, as Jesus looked out at the crowd. And Lazarus’ heart burst at the sight of his Savior, whose flesh was shredded and seeping with blood. Oh, but if Lazarus had known what was coming. If he would have known how bad it would get. The way they would beat Jesus beyond recognition, the way His eyes would radiate love even as they stripped Him bare as an animal for the world to see. And then, watching the Savior of the world stumble up the hill, Lazarus crumbled to the ground. The weight of sin crushed his very being as he saw the grace of the Lord. And Lazarus wept.


Somehow, Lazarus  kept breathing that day. It was as if his body was dying with Jesus. Dying with the One who had brought him back to life. But he pulled his weeping sisters from Golgotha and kept breathing. Once they were home, he tried to sleep. But it was fruitless. His mind continued to recollect the events of the past day. And he kept remembering how different life was just over a week ago. Or rather, how different non-life was.

That’s when Lazarus realize that in his grief, in his love for Jesus, he had forgotten who Jesus really was. Jesus was the Messiah! He was the One who walked into Lazarus’ dark grave and emerged with life. And as sleep gradually overtook him, Lazarus reached the end of his tears. His heart calmed and his mind went back to that day when his eyes fluttered open and saw the passion of Jesus, his healer. Yes, Jesus had done this before. He had walked into the dark grave and emerged with life. Surely, he could do it again.




 

Why end the story here? Why stop when the resurrection is the climax of the story? Well, I really wanted to focus on Lazarus, and how his life fit into Jesus’ crucifixion. As the book of John recounts, Lazarus was raised from the dead by Jesus, which acted as the catalyst for His crucification. The chief priests and Pharisees began to plot Jesus’ death, as well as Lazarus’. And this really caused me to wonder how Lazarus reacted and felt during Jesus’ trials and death. Many aspects of this account are fictionalized, but we do know that Lazarus was with Jesus in the week leading up to His death and that Lazarus was close friends with Jesus. Hopefully this gives you further insight into the love of Jesus and the faith of His followers. 

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