The story of the raising of Lazarus is valuable for the way it lets us see the human side of Jesus. It lets us see how much friendship meant for him.
The story opens with Jesus and the Apostles across the Jordan, out of Israel’s territory. They had fled there after the Jewish leaders had ruffians throwing stones at them. The story took place at just this time of year, and the Apostles were looking forward two weeks to when the melting snows of Lebanon would flood the Jordan, making them much safer on the other side.
Martha’s message about the final days of Lazarus simply stated, “Master, the one you love is ill.” That has us wondering about the possible depth of the friendship Jesus had for that family. Such deep friendships usually put the parties on a level with each other, and still, through the story. Both Martha and Mary call Jesus Master.
Still thinking of the human side of Jesus, we could picture him and the Apostles on the four-day trek from the Jordan up to Bethany. Sleeping at the roadside, did they use their cloaks for blankets and pillows? Did they cook the food Judas purchased?
Mary wept as she was leading Jesus to the tomb, and as though unable to control himself, Jesus broke into tears. It caused the bystanders to comment on the depth of his love for Lazarus.
Amazingly, before calling Lazarus to come forth from the tomb, Jesus thanked God for bringing about that miracle he had not yet called for.
Possibly, Jesus waited four days because of the common belief that the soul of the deceased lingered for three days.
When he cried out, “Lazarus, come out” one might wonder as to how much familiarity Jesus had invested in their friendship. Was it like he was calling, “My beloved friend Lazarus, come back to us?”