John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible. But behind those two little words, there lies a powerful theology. Here is part one of the story.
Lazarus laid in the bed, his sisters hovering over him. Martha, the elder, the ever-busy one, was bustling around him, trying to make him comfortable–fetching him water, another blanket. Though she knew by now–they all did–that it was pointless, she stubbornly refused to give up.
Mary was sitting by his side. No tears now. She put her hand on his beneath the sheets, but he couldn’t feel it. All he could feel was the pain, and he was ready now. Ready for it to stop. Ready to give in. Ready to surrender, to leave this broken body.
But he couldn’t yet. Jesus wasn’t here yet.
Jesus might be able to heal him. He’d done miracles before. Those who’d been blind all their lives could suddenly see. Those who’d never learned to walk were dancing in the streets. But even if he couldn’t, he had to say goodbye.
Because Jesus, to him, was more than a teacher, more than a prophet. More than a preacher, a revolutionary, even a Messiah. Jesus was a friend, and he loved him dearly.
Jesus would come. He had to come. He had to.
That was why Lazarus was holding on.
But he could feel himself slipping away. Jesus should have been here by now. The message had been sent two days ago. What if…
Lazarus’ thoughts dissolved in another round of wracking coughs. Martha ran to fetch him more water, and he didn’t have the breath to tell her not to waste the time. The light was already drawing nearer, spots dancing before his vision as his sister’s face faded.
Jesus hadn’t come.
And Lazarus was gone.
Out of the nothing, he heard a voice. A familiar voice, it seemed, but he couldn’t place it.
“Lazarus, come out.”
“Is that you, Jesus?” He’d come! But how…why was everything dark? What was that bright light? Why was he in a cave? And good heavens, WHAT was he WEARING??
He stood, carefully, loosening the tight wrappings enough to walk, and moved toward the light. Blinking, he stepped into the sun.
As his eyes adjusted, he saw his sister’s teary faces, suddenly full of joy. Running toward him, they nearly knocked him over with a huge hug. “You’re back,” Martha choked. Mary was too overcome to speak.
He looked around, and saw them all, his friends, his parents, his cousins and their wives. Standing there in shock as the dead man walked out of his own tomb.
And then his eyes found Jesus.
The prophet was standing there, with red eyes and a blotchy face. His eyes glistened, and Lazarus went to him.
“You came,” he breathed.