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Where was Lazarus?

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Lazarus… famous Lazarus, whose life and miracle is often used to describe the life of others, including a former Prime Minister of Australia, Mr John Howard, when he came back from the political wilderness to become one the country’s longest serving prime ministers.  Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, who died and was raised from the dead by Jesus after he was buried.  You can read about it in John 11, and you will also read about him reclining at the table with Jesus six days before the Passover when Jesus was crucified, obviously celebrating his second chance to life, and possibly his celebrity status as one raised from the dead.  However, that is the last you hear of him in the gospels, the book of Acts and the epistles of the apostles.  We know of nothing about Lazarus after John 12.  True, we know very little of many of the other disciples.  However, Lazarus is in a slightly different category.  For he was one who died, was buried and then was raised after he “stinketh,” as Martha said, not as one of the dead who were raised whilst their bodies were still warm, like the little girl or the son of the widow in Nain.

The absence of Lazarus in the Bible from John 12 to John 21 is disturbing to say the least, but what is most disturbing is his absence on the morning of the resurrection.  Of all the men who should have been with the women on resurrection morning, surely Lazarus had to be the one for two reasons:  Firstly, he was the one raised from the dead, and secondly, his sister Mary was with the women who went to the tomb that morning.  He was there when Jesus said to Judas, “Leave her alone.  It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of My burial,” [John 12.7] when Judas rebuked his sister for wasting the nard.  He knew that Jesus had died, and as one who had died and was raised from the dead days after his own burial, he was the one who knew that coming back to life days after you are buried is possible.  As such, there was no reason for Lazarus to be absent, but plenty of reasons for him to be present with the women.  So, what was wrong?

What are the things that could have accounted for Lazarus’ absence that morning?  Fear?  If so, of what?  When you have been raised form the dead, what is there left to fear, for even death could not hold you down?  And if it was fear, what could be the root of that fear?  Perhaps he slept in because he was too tired, having stayed up all night helping the women with the spices… not likely.  You see, you must remember that Lazarus had Mary who was going to the tomb to remind him.  What is the likelihood of Mary not telling her sister and brother to go to the tomb with her and the others that morning?  What would cause a man raised from the dead by Jesus from visiting His grave at the first opportunity?

The plot thickens when the women came back with the message from the angels to the men.  Was Lazarus with them?  If Lazarus was with the men, should he not be the one who would at least have believed the women?  And again when Mary returned with Jesus’ message and her testimony that Jesus is alive.  The one person who should have believed her is surely Lazarus.  But we have written in Mark 16.11:  When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen Him, they did not believe it. Did the ‘they’ include Lazarus?

As such, the question, “Where was Lazarus?” is a most pertinent question for each and every one of us, for in a way, we are all Lazarus, for every one of us was dead in some way until Jesus came into our lives and set us free from the law of sin and death.  Indeed, for the most part, we were so dead for so long that we stank far worse than Lazarus in the grave did.

It is not where we were before Jesus raised us that brings the judgement, but rather, where we are after we have been raised that brings the judgement and the reproach.  A person cannot be ungrateful until the favour has been granted and done, but when the favour has been granted and done, that is when we are capable of being ungrateful.  Ingratitude is the first sin of man, and it will be the last sin of man, for when Adam said of Eve, “…bones of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” and called Eve, “woman,” [Genesis 2.23] for she came from man, instead of calling her ‘female’ for she came from God, that was the sin of ingratitude.

It is a sin that exists without law, for one cannot legislate gratitude.  For gratitude that is legislated is not true gratitude.  Indeed, being untrue, then it is not gratitude.  As such, ingratitude is the only sin that can occur without the need of a law to define what a sin is.  It is the last sin, for when all things are over at the end of the millennium, mankind will rebel against the Lord for all the good He has done for them.  Such is the sin that ends this present creation and brings the final judgement.

So, what has God done for you?  Be grateful, and do not be like Lazarus who was present to bask in the limelight with Jesus when the meal was served to honour Jesus, but when the hard work was needed to be done, he was nowhere to be found.  How different the outcome on that fateful morning would have been if Lazarus had been there to say to the others, “If I can be raised from the dead, why can’t He be!” Remember, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.” [Matthew 13.12] Gratitude ensures that this law of Jesus will be in your life to bless you; then you will know where Lazarus is.

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