Lazarus...

His heart was held by a strong bond of affection to the family at Bethany

And for one of them, his most wonderful work was wrought

But then sorrow entered the peaceful home where Jesus had often rested

Lazarus… the friend of the healer was sick

His sisters seeing the violence of the disease

determined to remain confident till the end

For he that had shown himself able to heal all manner of disease was a friend

They believed he would be with them in their distress

So it was needless to send an urgent request for his presence

A  simple information of the situation will do

And so the message was simply; “he whom thou lovest is sick.”

They had thought he would immediately show up on hearing their message

Holding on to the spark of life remaining in their brother,

Anxiously, they waited for the master

But… the messenger returned alone.

 

 

Their heart seemed broken,

For in their time of distress they seemed to have been forsaken

His only word of comfort was this “this sickness is not unto death.”

But Lazarus died!

Had the master lied?

Even his disciples thought he was cold to this family at Bethany

For two days he remained in the place where he was

It seemed he had dismissed the message from his mind

Doubt began to trickle into the minds of his disciples

They remembered that the same Jesus had let his forerunner

Languish in prison and die a violent death

He had warned them of trials and persecutions

So now they wondered if he would abandon them in their times of trial

Then suddenly, when his disciples had forgotten the family at Bethany

He said “our friend Lazarus sleeps let's go wake him.”

 

 

 

Back at Bethany, from a distance,

He could feel every pang of anguish at the home of Lazarus

He could tell the sorrow of their rent hearts

As their brother was taken over by his strong foe…death

It was harder for Martha to take

For she had thought, had Christ been in the sickroom or anywhere nearer;

Death could not have aimed his dart at Lazarus in the presence of the life-giver

But in the midst of the despair

He knew, that for the sisters for Lazarus, and for himself a victory was lurking in the air

He stayed in a quiet place by the wayside

He did not wish to meet his sisters in the scene of confusion

On hearing the news of the arrival of Jesus

Martha hastened to meet the master

Her heart was filled with conflicting emotions

He had not been a friend in their time of need

At this point, she could almost say against all she had ever believed

That Jesus was not a friend indeed

But on seeing the face of the master

His calm in the midst of the turbulence

Though time had passed by

There was still love and compassion in his tender eyes

But grief still surged through her hearts

She could not hold herself back,

She said “if thou were here before my brother will not have died.”

But his heart broke more

When she managed to mutter little hope in such hopelessness,

Saying “even now whatever you ask of God, he will give thee.”

Jesus looked at her sorrowful and careworn face

And said “Thy brother shall rise again.”

 

 

 

He groaned in the spirit as they were troubled

He read the hearts of all assembled

It was a mournful scene

Lazarus was much beloved,

And his sisters wept for him with broken hearts

While those who had been friends

Mingled their tears with those of the bereaved sisters

Seeing that his friends could mourn over the dead,

While the saviour of the world stood by

Jesus wept

He wept not for Lazarus, for he was about to call him from the grave

But he wept for their unbelief,

For they murmured among themselves;

“Did he not heal the sick, restore sight to the blind,

hearing to the deaf, and made the lame walk?

Now he weeps for he is helpless.”

The whole of the world had forgotten the lone message earlier brought by the messenger

“This sickness is not unto death”, and though Lazarus had died, Jesus could never lie

So with his eyes watery, his heart broken, and his voice mild and bold he said

“Where have you laid him?”

 

 

 

On hearing this, all of nature became agitated

Anxious for what his next words might be

The devil dispatched more of his cohorts to ensure one thing

That the master’s tears remain for loss and shame

And the anxiety increased even more by reason of his next words

“Take away the stone.”

Now even Martha who wanted Lazarus the most objected to this

“By this time he stinketh” she had said

Four days ago, his heart had stopped to beat

His lungs were deprived of oxygen

Rigor mortis had set in, and his muscles had stiffened

His colour was pale

His cells had died, starting with the brain cells and then the skin cells

His body bloated up and then collapsed leaving a flattened body with creamy flesh

And then the body fluids seeped into the soil

Grave wax had started to form in the fashion of cobwebs

Gases of purification emitted a foul odour, and of course, the flies came

And fly eggs hatched into maggots in and around his body

Eating up his decomposed remains

And the flies ate up the maggots

And the entire circle of life is set in process by yet another death

 Lazarus was too dead to be seen again

So it was fair for Martha to say “by this time he stinketh.”

 

 

 

But there laid the body of Lazarus

The silence of the master insisted that his command be obeyed

Every single sound the stone had made while it was being rolled away was heard distance of miles away

Great was the silence

All of Bethany was at a standstill

And there was Lazarus, wrapped in tomb clothes

In the rocky grave, cold and silent in death

The cries of the mourners hushed,

You could hear the wind brush gently through the trees,

You could even hear the birds flap their wings

All expectant, standing around the sepulchre

Waiting to see what was to follow.

He lifted his eyes to the heavens

And then he says the most mysterious words yet to all that watched

“Father I thank you for you have heard me.”

 

 

 

Everybody wondered what he had said that the father had heard

So though they listened hard for what he had just said,

They forgot what he had said four days ago

“This sickness is not unto death”, but though Lazarus died, Jesus had not lied

 This the father had heard, and for this he was thankful

Then with the calm and confidence of a king

He spoke to him that was dead as though he were alive

His voice was loud and clear

His words were gentle and filled with power

“Lazarus come forth,” he said

The sound echoed in the midst of the silence for all of Bethany to hear

But not just Bethany heard all of Lazarus heard the masters call

The soil suddenly became moist, and all of his body fluid which had seeped into the soil returned to his flesh eager to heed the master’s call

The flies which had flown far away from Bethany, suddenly felt a force as that of gravity pulling them back to Bethany and to the sepulchre of Lazarus, there they gave up the maggots they had eaten

The maggots, in turn, found their way back to the decomposed body and gave up the dead cells of Lazarus

All of nature stood still,

The circle of life began to tick anti-clockwise

The dead heart began to beat

The dried blood began to circulate

The stiff muscles began to flex

Grave wax fashioned as cobwebs melted back into tissues,

Tissue to tissue, bone to bone

Colour was restored to the skin

Finally, his spirit was restored to his body

And out of the grave, Lazarus came hopping out

In obedience to the master’s call

For his sickness was not unto death, though he died the master could never lie

Now even death is not the end

For beyond death is the resurrection and the life

He that believeth on him, though he were dead yet shall he live again.

 

 

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© Uchenna Iloka