There’s no sound from the cave, but he refuses to move. He waits. More silence, he glances over his shoulder at the crowd behind him, no one is moving. He makes them jump when he shatters the silence with his call. ‘Lazarus! Come out of there!’
You can cut the atmosphere with an axe. A blunt one at that. Still they wait. A story rattles around his head. A poor man arriving in heaven, his eyes popping at the banquet laid on for him. And a rich man, trapped in a prison of his own making. The rich man calling out, ‘Send the poor man back to warn my family!’ ‘No need,’ the divine whisper replies, ‘even if Lazarus came back from the dead, they still wouldn’t get it.’
A sigh. That was definitely the sound of a sigh. Now a cough, both sounds seeping out of the cave. The sound of stirring and shuffling. More coughing. And here he is – wrapped up like a corpse, because that’s what he is, or rather, that’s what he was. Jesus extends a hand into the gloom, grabs the figure and hauls him into the daylight. The people gasp, there is some laughter, stifled sobs too.
‘Hello Lazarus,’ Jesus says, unwrapping the face to reveal flushed, healthy cheeks. Lazarus blinks, smiles in a bewildered kind of way, looks as if he’s been sleeping for a hundred years. ‘Who are all these people,’ he mumbles. ‘What’s going on?’ His sisters run to him and swamp him with hugs. Jesus laughs and steps away, lets them have their reunion.
‘…even if Lazarus came back from the dead…’ the words of his story rattle through his brain once more. Well, Lazarus is back. And some will believe because of it. But… he looks beyond the mourners to the religious experts swapping muttered comments… some will still not get it. Not at all. Blessed are the poor in Spirit, because they know they have seen God today. Pity those who think they are rich… for they know it all.
John 11 & Luke 16