DayBreaks for 11/17/16: Lazarus – and the Second Time Around
From the DayBreaks archive, November 2006:
John 11:43 (NLT) – Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus came out, bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
I deeply love this story. I would give anything to have been there to see this happen. But alas, I was born about 2000 years too late. Lazarus had been dead for 4 days – that time period is significant. There were at least some of the ancient Jews who believed that once a person died, the spirit would loiter around the body for as long as 3 days, waiting to see if it could re-enter the body. But on the fourth day, because of the lack of preservatives such as we have today, the decomposition would have so distorted the face of the body that the spirit would no longer recognize the body and it would depart, never to return. And the body would lay in the tomb, bound in the graveclothes (interestingly enough, these wrappings and clothes were called the “traveling dress” by the Jews), awaiting the day of resurrection.
I’ve wondered many times how Lazarus felt about being called back from the dead. Did he have any say in the matter? If so, it’s hard to imagine that he’d want to come back. Would you? I wouldn’t. Regardless, even though it had been 4 days, Lazarus was back. What a thrilling moment that must have been for his family and the bystanders!
But what has struck me more recently wasn’t the scene of this resurrection, but the contemplation of the next time that Lazarus lay upon his death bed. It would not be unfamiliar territory to Lazarus – he’d been on a death bed before. But I would imagine that this time, Lazarus’ attitude and thoughts about death would have been much different. It was no longer a mystery – he’d experienced it. And he knew that death was no kind of barrier at all to Jesus. Lazarus personally knew what the voice of Jesus that would call him out the tomb on the resurrection day would sound like, and he knew he’d hear it and he’d once again (but for the last time!) rise again from his burial. Do you think for a single moment that Lazarus had ANY fear as he lay on his mat, dying the second time?
We will all lie on our death bed at some point. Scripture is clear, from John 5, that the day will come when ALL who are in the grave will hear the voice of Jesus commanding (not asking!) them to come forth from the tomb. And we’d better have our “traveling dress” ready when that time comes, for there will be no delay.
Because Jesus raised a little girl, a widow’s son, his friend Lazarus, and ultimately himself, he’s given us plenty of reason to trust that He is who He claimed to be: I am the resurrection and life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. (Jn. 11:25)
PRAYER: Jesus, may we keep our traveling dress pure and clean so that when our spirits hear your command, we will rejoice and have no fear. May we rest, both in life and in death, in peace that only comes because of You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.