Lazarus (of Bethany) 22nd March

Today at church we read the story of the raising of Lazarus of Bethany from John 11.1-45, a kind of “resurrection preview”. I find it almost comical that, upon hearing the report, the Sanhedrin plots to kill Jesus (Verse 53), without considering for one moment:

  • Hey, maybe this man is from God after all? or
  • Hmmm. If he can raise another dead man, maybe be he can raise himself too!

Lewis takes a curious line on the story,
Toward the end of his life, Lewis wrote to a friend: “One ought to honor
Lazarus rather than Stephen as a proto-martyr. To be brought back and have
all one’s dying to do again was rather hard.”

And as if to underline the point, he wrote a wonderful little poem called Stephen to Lazarus, where Stephen sympathizes with Lazarus for being forced to give up a hard-won death.

But was I the first martyr, who
Gave up no more than life, while you,
Already free among the dead,
Your rags stripped off, your fetters shed,
Surrendered what all other men
Irrevocably keep, and when
Your battered ship at anchor lay
Seemingly safe in the dark bay
No ripple stirs, obediently
Put out a second time to sea
Well knowing that your death (in vain
Died once) must all be died again?

See also an Eastern Orthodox comment on the poem.

Anyone want to add any thoughts on the matter?

Under The Mercy,

It vividly illustrates the truth of Jesus’ words in Luke 16:31:

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

When I was younger, I didn’t quite understand why Jesus cried upon hearing of Lazarus’s death, since He knew that He would resurrect him soon. Later, I began to think of various possibilities. And this is what Lewis says in “God in the Dock”, Part I (17), entitled “Some Thoughts”:

“…we follow One who stood and wept at the grave of Lazarus – not surely, because He was grieved that Mary and Martha wept, and sorrowed for their lack of faith (though some thus interpret) but because death, the punishment of sin, is even more horrible in His eyes than in ours. The nature which He had created as God, the nature which He had assumed as Man, lay there before Him in its ignominy; a foul smell, food for worms. Though He was to revive it a moment later, He wept at the shame; If I may here quote a writer of my own communion, ‘I am not so much afraid of death as ashamed of it’. And that brings us again to the paradox. Of all men, we hope most of death; yet nothing will reconcile us to – well, its ‘unnaturalness’. We know that we were not made for it; we know how it crept into our destiny as an intruder; and we know Who has defeated it. Because Our Lord is risen we know that on one level it is an enemy already disarmed; but because we know that the natural level also is God’s creation we cannot not cease to fight against the death which mars it, as against all those other blemishes upon it, against pain and poverty, barbarism and ignorance. Because we love something else more than this world we love even this world better than those who know no other.”


“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 13: 4-8)

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