Tuesday, May 27, 2008


A stray thought occurred to me the other day. There is a pervasive belief in modern evangelical Christian circles that this life is kind of insignificant compared to 'eternal life in heaven' - the bit of life which starts after we die. This bit of life is really just to give us the chance to get to know Jesus so that we can be saved and then go to heaven when we die. Then the fun begins.

If that's the case, the story of Lazarus raises two problems.
  1. Why does Jesus cry?
  2. Why does Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead?
I mean, clearly Lazarus had the thing which modern evangelicals believe to be required for salvation, he had a personal relationship with Jesus. The text makes it absolutely clear, Jesus loved Lazarus (John 11v3&5). If anyone's salvation was assured it was this friend of Jesus's!

But Jesus cries at the news and then goes on to raise Lazarus from the dead. Why would Jesus cry if Lazarus going to heaven was an entirely good thing? Why would Jesus choose to pull Lazarus back out of eternal life into this fallen world?

OK, so some would say that the point is that Jesus is here demonstrating his power over death, but why restore someone destined for heaven? Why not give life back to someone who had died in their sins and give them a second chance? I'm sure there are countless ways Jesus could have demonstrated his power over death without pulling his friend out of paradise and back into this fallen world.

Or are we missing the point? Is life in this world more important than we have been led to believe? Did Jesus bring Lazarus back to this life because this life is good?

Perhaps we should focus more on this life than we sometimes do?


Anonymous said...

You wrote: "But Jesus cries at the news..." and this is clearly not true.

Jesus didn't cry when he heard that his "friend" was sick nor did he cry later when he told the disciples their "friend" was dead nor did he cry when he talked with Martha nor did he cry when he talked with Mary. He only cried after the response of the Jews to his question. And those who distort the details in God's word can't benifit from the jots and tittles therein.

Many misteach this passage and present Jesus as a normal attendee who gets overtaken by emotion at any given funeral but this idea is demonstrably false.

Ricky Carvel said...

OK. Fair point. Jesus cries when he sees Mary and 'the jews' weeping, not when he hears of the death of a friend. But I wasn't deliberately 'distorting' the details of the story here.

And the question remains, if Lazarus entered eternal life after dying, why should Jesus choose to bring him back to this fallen world? It seems kind of unfair.

McKinley said...

You are correct. That would be unfair. The fact is that Lazurus was dead and nowhere else. Ecclesiates says that the dead are not conscious of anything. So the reason Jesus resurrected him is to demonstrate the resurrection that will take place world wide in the future. The scriptures say that all those in the tomb will come out. Adam and Eve had the opportunity to live forever in Paradise on earth but lost it. Jesus's death makes that possible for humans again.