Monday, 11 April 2011

Tears before Joy

Oil Painting by Daniel Bonnell
Thomas' Story Part 4
(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.)


It was when he saw Mary and the other friends and relations weeping and wailing and singing laments. That's when Jesus broke down. Jesus wept. All the way to Lazarus's tomb he sobbed his heart out. We cried with him. I'd been to lots of funerals, but never felt as deeply moved as that day. I think Jesus wept, not just because of Lazarus, but for others he had lost and because he knew he too would die soon.

When we got to the cave where they'd laid Lazarus's body, Jesus asked for the stone covering the entrance to be taken away. I couldn't believe he was serious. Martha said what we all thought. There would be a dreadful stench. The body had been dead 4 days. It should be allowed to rest in peace. But they did take away the stone. And here's something really strange. I couldn't detect any putrid smell. Please don't ask me to explain. I can't.

Jesus thanked God for having heard his prayers. He'd been praying a lot on the journey - but then he always did. I've never met anyone else with such faith. Then Jesus shouted for Lazarus to come out. I couldn't believe my ears. How could he? Lazarus had died 4 days before and he'd be bound up in strips of cloth. I don't know what I expected. For a moment we were all frozen to the spot, staring at the open tomb. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I wouldn't have believed what happened next. The dead man came out. Yes, Lazarus came out of his tomb. At first, like everyone else, I was horrified. Dead people don't come to life on an ordinary day - only on the Last Day when the dead would be raised. It must be a ghost I thought.

But it wasn't a ghost. When they took off the grave clothes I could see it was Lazarus. He looked surprised to see so many people. It was as if he'd just woken up from sleep and wondered what party he'd missed. We did party once we'd got over the shock and knew that Laraus really was alive again. What a party that was! Later we heard some party poopers had slipped away to complain to the authorities about what Jesus had done. Some people are never satisfied - not even when someone rises from the dead.

Image of mural in St Lazarus Church, Bethany
This post is the 32nd in a series of daily Lenten reflections based on one of the Bible readings from the Common worship Lectionary of the Church of England. This one is based on John 11: 28-44

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