Death – perspectives from Jesus and Lazarus, Part II

The best way to understand Christ’s conquest of death is to see the perspectives outlined in John 11.  First, Jesus delayed his return to Bethany.  Second, he arrived after Lazarus had been buried.  Third, he corrected Martha’s flawed view of him.

Fourth, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death by precipitating the crisis that brought his ministry to his self-chosen goal.  This resurrection decided the Sanhedrin:  Jesus had to die.  Indeed, so immensely did the miracle impact Jerusalem and all Judea, the Sanhedrin determined that Lazarus also had to die, since his resurrection had convinced many people of Christ’s power.  The resurrected life is always an offense to unbelievers, who sometimes viciously attack it.

Fifth, in the nexus between Jesus and Lazarus, the Master demonstrated his power over death by making the resurrection a public event.  He ordered the stone removed, which frightened and offended Martha.  She certainly didn’t appropriate the meaning of Christ’s I AM THE RESURRECTION claim, but thought in Old Covenant terms or, at best, in the future state of God’s people.  Which is very true to life; what is too far beyond our comprehension is filtered through previous constructs.  Her reference to the body’s decomposition was certainly true to physical laws.  They buried bodies the day death occurred for just that reason.

By ordering the stone removed, Jesus guaranteed it would be an actual physical body rising from the grave.  It wouldn’t be a “spiritual” resurrection—anymore than Christ’s personal bodily resurrection was a “spiritual” experience in the hearts of his believers.  For Jesus, an actual bodily resurrection; for Lazarus, the same.  Only if Jesus could produce the body of Lazarus from the corpse inside the tomb would Jesus actually BE the RESURRECTION he claimed.

Then, to the amazement of all, Jesus called for LAZARUS—a real-life individual.  That’s the importance of using the name in the simplest, plainest, most direct appeal to his spirit.  He spoke it loudly so the spectators could hear his voice call it and see the body respond to it.  He spoke it personally because God considers us as individuals, while belonging to the whole, not residents of a Nirvana in which individuals are eclipsed by the whole.  His mighty verbal summons sounded beyond life in the spirit-world, where only One Voice reaches.  And there, among millions at rest, or in turmoil, one person heard, listened and instantly left…to re-appear in a tomb outside Bethany, Israel—where he stirred awake his corpse, who struggled his feet to the floor and…wrapped in grave windings, stalked his way outside, to hear Jesus Christ’s triumphant shout, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”   – Fini –

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