←Books ←Chapters ←Previous Next→

The Lazarus Effect

The narrow way

Jesus went teaching through cities and villages along his way to Jerusalem. And someone asked him, “Master, are only a few to be saved?”

“Compete to enter through the narrow door,” he replied. “For I tell you that many who try to enter will not be strong enough. Once the homeowner gets up and locks the doors, you will stand outside knocking on the doors and saying, ‘Master, open up the door for us!’ But he will reply to you, ‘I don’t know you or where you’re from’.

“Then you’ll start to say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our city squares!’ But he will retort, ‘I’ve never seen you before. Where did you come from? Get out of here, you outlaws!’ There will be much crying and teeth grinding when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God while you’re left outside. People will come from east and west, from north and south, and be seated at the table in the kingdom of God. But take note of this! The last will be first, and the first will be last.”

At that time some religious leaders approached him and said, “Get away from here and go someplace else, because Herod intends to kill you!”

Jesus replied. “You go and tell that fox, ‘Watch this: I am driving out demons and performing healings today and tomorrow, and the third day I’m done’. After all, I must go on today, tomorrow, and the day after, because it just isn’t right for a prophet to be done away with outside of Jerusalem!”

The rich man and Lazarus

“There was a certain rich person who dressed in expensive clothes and lived each day in happiness and luxury. But there was also a destitute man named Lazarus who was put at the rich man’s door. He was covered with ulcers and longed to fill himself with crumbs from the rich man’s table, and the dogs came and licked his sores. Eventually the destitute man died, and he was carried away by the angels to the place of honor with Abraham. Then the rich man also died and was buried.

“The rich man, in torment in Hades, looked up and saw Abraham with Lazarus at the place of honor a great distance away. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his fingertip in water and cool my tongue, because I’m in agony in this inferno.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Child, remember that you had a good life but Lazarus had a lousy life. Now the tables are turned; he is comforted while you suffer. And besides, there’s a wide chasm set between us, so that no one can cross over from one side to the other.’

“‘Then I beg you, Father’, he replied, ‘that you would send him to my father’s house. I have five brothers, and he could warn them not to come to this place of torment.’

“But Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘Oh no, Father Abraham!’ he begged. ‘But if someone were to come to them from the dead, they would turn to God.’

“‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets’, said Abraham, ‘they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”

Jesus raises a different Lazarus

Now there was a certain ill person named Lazarus from Bethany, the same village as Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary was the one who rubbed the Master’s feet with perfumed oil and wiped them with her hair; Lazarus was her brother.) So the sisters sent a message to him: “Master, your good friend is very ill!” But when Jesus heard this, he said, ”This illness will not end in death but in honor to God and to the Human.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. But when he heard he was ill, he actually stayed where he was for two more days. Only then did he say to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”

“But the Jews intend to execute you now, and you want to go back there?!” exclaimed the disciples.

“Aren’t there twelve hours of daylight?” Jesus asked. “If anyone walks around in the daytime they don’t stumble, because they see the light of this world. But if they walk around during the night they stumble, because there is no light in them.” Then he added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going to wake him up.”

“Master,” replied his disciples, “If he has fallen asleep he will recover.”

Now Jesus was actually talking about Lazarus’ death, but they had taken him literally. So he told them plainly, “Lazarus died. But I am happy for you, that you might believe since I wasn’t there. But let’s get going to him.”

Then Thomas, nicknamed The Twin, said to the other disciples, “Let’s all go too, so we can die with him!”

Upon his arrival in Bethany, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. But Martha heard that Jesus was there and went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. Then Martha said to Jesus, “Master, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you anything you ask.”

Jesus told her, “Your brother will arise.”

“I understand,” replied Martha, “that he will rise in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever puts their trust in me will live again even if they die, and many having trust in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Master,” she answered. “I believe that you are the Anointed One, the God-Man, who is coming into the world.”

And with that, she went to speak privately to her sister Mary, telling her that the Master was there and wanted to see her. As soon as she heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. (Now Jesus had not yet come into the village but was still at the spot where Martha met up with him.) Then the people who were in the house consoling her saw her get up quickly and leave, so they followed her because they presumed she was going to the tomb to mourn.

Mary arrived at the place where Jesus was, and when she saw him she fell at his feet and said, “Master, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died!” At the sight of her and everyone else sobbing, Jesus was deeply moved in spirit and very distraught. And he asked, “Where have you all placed him?”

“Come and see, Master” they replied, and Jesus wept. So they said, “See how fond he was of him!”

But some scoffed, “Couldn’t the one who gave sight to the blind have been able to keep this person from dying?”

Then Jesus, still very distraught, came to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone laid in front of the opening. Then he said, “Take away the stone!”

Martha, the deceased’s sister, objected, “But Master! By this time there is an awful smell, because it’s the fourth day.”

But Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the majesty of God?” So they took the stone away. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I am grateful that you hear me. I always knew you did, but I said this for the sake of the crowd around me, so they could believe that you sent me.”

After this he shouted, “Lazarus! Come here! Come out!” And the one who had died came out. His feet and hands had been wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and his face had had a cloth wrapped around it. So Jesus said, “Unbind him and let him go!” Then many of those who came to Mary saw what Jesus did and put their trust in him. But some went off to the religious leaders and told them what Jesus was doing.

No good deed goes unpunished

So the religious leaders convened an official meeting and said, “What are we going to do about this person performing many miracles? If we let him go on like this, everyone will put their trust in him, and then the Romans will come and do away with our place and nation.”

Now one of them in particular, the ruling priest that year by the name of Caiaphas, said, “You understand nothing! And you haven’t figured out that one person should die for the people instead of letting the whole nation be destroyed.” (Now he didn’t realize it, but he had just predicted that Jesus was about to die for the sake of the nation— and not just the nation, but also to gather all the scattered children of God into one.) So from that day on they plotted to kill him. As a result, Jesus could no longer walk openly among the Jews. He went away from there into the area near the desert, to a city called Ephraim, and remained there with his disciples.

Another visit to Bethany

Now the Jewish Passover was near, and many went up to Jerusalem from the countryside so they could purify themselves before it started. Then they looked for Jesus, and as they stood together in the temple compound they said to each other, “Do you think there’s any chance he’ll come to the festival?” (The religious leaders had issued orders that if anyone knew where he was, they were to report it so he could be arrested.)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, the place where he had raised Lazarus from the dead. Most of the Jews knew Jesus was there, and they came not only to see Jesus but also Lazarus. But the religious leaders planned to kill Lazarus too, because on account of him many of the Jews had put their trust in Jesus.

↑ Page Top