Psalm 22 • Jeremiah 29:1, 4-13 • Romans 11:13-24 • John 11:1-27
Lazarus, the man, is rarely explored in church. The Bible says woefully little about him. He only appears in the gospel of John, the most mystical of the four gospels, and there he is only mentioned twice, once coming back from the dead, and then hosting Jesus as a dinner guest shortly before our Savior goes to the cross.
Lazarus, in order to be such a friend that “Jesus wept” at his death, must have been quite the guy. We know Jesus loved to be with people, to eat and enjoy their company, and Lazarus must have been good company. We shouldn’t just remember him as some sort of mummy, coming out of the cave in his burial wrapping, but so full of life that even after he was dead, he could be summoned by Jesus’ voice.
A song, by contemporary Christian artist Carmen, imagines what happened in that time that Lazarus left his body, in “Lazarus Come Forth”:
Needless to say the room got real quiet
When Lazarus said but I knew him
In a way you all never did
You see, man, I walked with him and talked with him
I saw how his teachings awed the crowds
Those famous tears of compassion I could actually see
He used to come over to my house after church
And my sisters would make him dinner
You see, man, I even remember the littlest things
The things that most folks would forget
Like the simple, loving way He’d just call my name
Up at the grave stone rolled away
With a loud voice Jesus started to say, Lazarus
You see it just seems like yesterday
I could hear that man saying my name
As a matter of a fact it seemed like today
Excuse me brothers I think I hear him calling me now
The point John is trying to make—“He who believes in me (Jesus, who is God and the Holy Spirit) shall never die, but have life everlasting”—is granted a physical manifestation in Lazarus. Jesus has his friend back, and we all have hope for the future.
— Lori Korleski Richardson