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Lazarus the First

If Jesus could conquer death for this one man, maybe he could conquer death for us all.


When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was gravely ill, the first thing he did was nothing.

To be fair: I don’t know exactly what it is I expect Jesus to do. Aren’t we all powerless in the face of death approaching? But still … nothing? Surely, he could have done something.

Jesus does tell his disciples “this sickness will not end in death, it is for God’s glory so that the son of God will be glorified through it.” But what kind of comfort are words like that? Who wants to face the worst day of their lives and hear “this is for God’s glory.” No one! And neither, I believe, would Mary and Martha, sitting at the bedside of their sick brother, getting weaker with every hour. “Where is Jesus? He should be here by now.” “Where is Jesus? He is slipping away.” “Where is Jesus? What good could he possibly be now, it’s already too late.”

Time to Go

After two days of nothing. Jesus suddenly decides it’s time to go. “Let’s go back to Judea,” he tells his disciples. “Let’s go see Lazarus and his sisters.”

But going to Judea is no small deal. Going to Judea is dangerous. “Last time we were in Judea,” says the disciples, “they tried to stone you. Every time we go to Judea the people get angrier. If we keep going back to Judea, death is inevitable.”

“But our friend Lazarus,” says Jesus, “has fallen asleep, and I have to go there to wake him up.”

“Hang on a second,” reply the disciples, “Jesus, if you think we’re going to walk for three and a half days, just so you can go tickle Lazarus’ feet you need to get your head ...

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