He was sick. His friend didn’t come. Then he was sicker. He could see the worry and sorrow in his sister’s faces. He knew his death would hurt them. But he couldn’t stop it from taking him. And Jesus, who might be able to, didn’t come. Did Jesus care at all??? And he died. His family was dealing with his death – sorrow, burial arrangements and the burial itself. Visitors, food, tears, sorrow. You know how it feels. So much doing nothing but being so exhausted. Sorrow is heavy. Tears take something out of you.
Meanwhile, Lazarus is on the other side of the life/death divide. Who greeted him in Heaven? How deeply in did he get in those 4 days? Did he join the choir? Or meet David or Abraham? We don’t know. We have no record of his recollections of his time in heaven. All we know is that Jesus called his name and out he came from the grave, still wrapped up in the clothes of burial. Is his memory of events clear or befuddled? What I see is that Jesus said free him from the effects of burial. Free him of those clothes that hinder him. Free him.
I’ve heard a bereaved father muse that even if he could, he wouldn’t want to call his daughter back here. He said that would be selfish because she is much better off there. Yet, for God’s own reasons, He called Lazarus back. His reasons are that we, you and I, could believe that He has authority and power over death. Now I believe it because it’s proven! The proof is right in front of the faces of many witnesses – Lazarus alive.
I wonder what it was like for Lazarus in the days, weeks, months and years after his resurrection. How did he face the little everyday frustrations of life on this dusty planet? How did he deal with his sisters?! I assume he got sick again in the course of a normal life. How was that for him? Did he see it as discomfort to moan about or as possible re-entry into his heaven’s home!?
Lazarus lived and died, and lived and died again and was raised to Life by the One who is friend of his family and who identified Himself as “the Resurrection and the Life.” You and I live and will die. We can live that resurrection Life too, assuming we believe that Jesus is Life. Your child knows the answers to the questions I’ve wondered about here – and so much more. They are free of the effects of death and burial! They know Heaven and how it works and where all the important meeting places are. They have spent time around the throne of the King of Kings, in awe and worshiping Him. Real Life is “good” for them.
Here’s my question for you: Are you willing to rest in the proof that Life is and is very good on the other side of our life/death divide? Are you willing to not wish your child would come back here? Knowing that they are enjoying their lives won’t make your longing for them cease, but will that knowledge give you some peace while you remain on this side of that divide?
In the context of a discussion of life and death and home on the other side, Jesus said: Peace I give you. (in John 14)
I too wish you Peace.