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Posts Tagged ‘Lazarus’

Painting by Prof. M. M. Ninan

Painting by Prof. M. M. Ninan

Healing remains a mystery for most of us. Of course, the science of it all has been investigated and documented by very smart people, but ultimately, the why of healing and who is healed and why one tactic or procedure works with one and not another, it’s simply unknown. It is the realm of God.

Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?” [Mark 5:29-30, NIV]  But they [the bystanders] laughed at him. After he [Jesus] put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). [Mark 5:29:40-41, NIV]

The power to heal. What is that? Is this power simply the spirit and therefore, endless, or must it be re-charged like a battery? Is it like manna, merely enough for one day? Do some have more than others? Is this “power” simply the life force and some have more than others? Or is it more likely that we are all equally endowed but diverse in our ability to access it? Or, is it even an it? Is this a Presence and sentient?

My fantasy self, the one that reads light-heartedly of magic and elves and wonder, where good and evil are clearly demarcated, likes to imagine that the people Jesus raised from the dead might still be alive today. I mean, at what point would they die once that power infused them? To my best knowledge, the ones Jesus resurrected died of illnesses and not at the hand of others or by accident. Jesus undid the knot in their thread of life. In the case of Lazarus [John 11], Jesus clearly says that the act of resurrection is to glorify God, the Father.

But, what of us? That’s the question that is really on my mind, I know. There have been healers in the past, people who made a sensation through the laying of the hands and prayer, healing many. Charlatans abounded as well, putting on a show of healing. The authentic becomes more difficult to identify. Even in Jesus’s time, there were magicians and brokers of the supernatural. Our culture is unaccustomed to the potential power of the Spirit. We are logical and scientific. All miracles are suspect. Cliches abound: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.” And so on. We’re all from the “Show Me” state of Missouri it seems.

Jesus was suffused in power and he was given the right to wield it or not. This power was so plentiful that some people, like the woman with the issue of blood, were able to grasp it, at times, without his direct intervention: power which could transform and make whole again or even better than it was in the first place.

Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. [John 14: 12-14, NIV]

The only thing in the way is me.

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LazarusSix days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. [John 12:1-2]

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, not only to celebrate the Passover, but undoubtedly he knew, he was going to his suffering and death. On the way, he stopped to be with friends. These were not necessarily disciples as we have no record that Lazarus and and his sisters followed Jesus in his travels. They were, instead, a home base, a place of rest.

I find it amusing that John would mention that Martha served, this very same Martha who Jesus chastised for becoming overly upset about serving while her sister sat at his feet listening (that would have been weeks earlier). I believe it is mentioned intentionally because this was still Martha’s way. Jesus never intended for Martha to stop being Martha, but to simply stop comparing herself to others and stop stressing. She was good at what she did but Jesus wanted her to check her priorities. I can relate to that, the Martha that I am. And so, on this final trip, his  final visit to their home, Martha served her Rabbi and Lord.

But the continuing story of Lazarus has always fascinated me the most (undoubtedly because of my love for fantasy and science fiction). In Romans 6:9, Paul writes about Jesus, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.” And I cannot help but wonder, what happened to the ones Jesus raised from the dead (Lazarus was not the only one, there were a few others)? What was life like afterwards? Did they have awareness of death and then life again? Was there a sense of destiny, a role that needed to be fulfilled by coming back? Did Jesus charge them with a job to do? Did Lazarus die again? Did the widow’s son or Jairus’s daughter, Tabitha, die again?

I’m just asking.

And why did Jesus weep at the death of Lazarus? He delayed coming to the sick bed of Lazarus on purpose. He knew Lazarus was dying. And yet, when Jesus finally arrived in the midst of the raw grief and shock of Mary and Martha, Jesus weeps (John 11:35). So much is assumed is about his weeping, but I am not so sure it is merely for his love for Lazarus. Instead, I believe (and this is pure conjecture on my part) that Jesus wept because of the symbolism that Lazarus’s raising implied. Jesus was seeing himself, for he too would walk from a grave and the stone rolled away.

But Lazarus did not come out with a different body, at least, there is no indication that he could transport himself or walk through walls. In fact, this is the last time we hear of Lazarus at all, reclining at table with his friend, his Rabbi, his Lord.

Is Lazarus still here? I don’t know. But what a story that would be, what an adventure. It’s on my list of tales to write.

 

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John 11:43-44
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

We are just like Lazarus. We are dead to the true fullness of life that is available to us. We’re wrapped up in grave clothes. And for us, it’s all normal.

One of my favorite types of books to read is fantasy. I enjoy those battles between good and evil and in particular, that good always wins. Across a great number of fantasy authors, there are certain accepted norms which are often incorporated into their stories. The dragons and trolls and fairies are very similar from one book to the next. There are types of magic and types of power. Another, somewhat universal idea, is the “true name.” There is power in the true name of a person. There is particular power when someone knows a person’s true name and uses it.

This is how I feel about Lazarus. Jesus called his “true name.” Jesus called out the “real” Lazarus, the one who would now move into his actual potential. Lazarus, from that day forth, would be changed. He was drawn out of the dark and into the light. He was dead and then truly alive.

Jesus knows all of our true names. And He is calling us.

The world of Christ is different than the world we have manufactured. If we answer His call, we will be unsteady at first, even a little overwhelmed. The rules are different. The focus is different. The landscape is different. Our perceptions are different. But eventually, the useless “grave clothes” come off and we can move freely. Once death is overcome, what is left to fear?

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