Thursday 11 March 2021

The scope and nature of Lazarus's resurrection: eternal life, but not in Heaven until after the death of Jesus

The 'raising of Lazarus' was indeed a miraculous resurrection; as is made clear by the text of the Fourth Gospel

Yet it was incomplete; by contrast with the Heavenly life eternal that Jesus made possible by his own death and resurrection; since Lazarus remained on earth for some time after the death of Jesus. 

After telling Martha what he was about to do; Lazarus was resurrected by Jesus but into his previous mortal body. 

By contrast - after Jesus's ascension - Men are resurrected into 'new' bodies, and any remains of their mortal bodies are left behind on earth. 

And Lazarus remained on earth after being resurrected, and looked-after Jesus's mother - at least until some time (not recorded) after he wrote the Fourth Gospel (Chapters 1-20 inclusive); when he may have ascended to Heaven.

(Unless, as some have always suggested in various 'legends' or 'folklore'; the author of the Fourth Gospel remains on earth as an immortal agent of Christ's mission, to the present day.)

By contrast; those deceased mortal Men who now choose to follow Jesus will be resurrected directly into Heaven.   

What happened to Lazarus was therefore only a partial and incomplete form of what Jesus made possible for Mankind. 

This is to be expected since at the time Lazarus was resurrected, Jesus had not died and ascended to Heaven. And the ascended Jesus is necessary for Men to attain resurrected eternal Heavenly life. 

The Fourth Gospel, throughout, tell us that Jesus offers us resurrected 'life everlasting' or 'eternal' if we 'believe-on' and 'follow' Jesus - after the death of our bodies. 

In some way Jesus will lead those who choose to accept his offer to resurrected Heavenly life (as the Good Shepherd leads his flock) - but the presence of the ascended Jesus is absolutely necessary for this.

When Lazarus was resurrected; Jesus was still a mortal Man on earth, so this 'completion' of the fullness of Resurrection was not possible; and indeed Lazarus also had other work yet to do on earth. 

The raising of Lazarus had many functions. 

First it showed, more than any other miracle, that Jesus was divine. It demonstrated visibly that Jesus was able to offer resurrection to those who loved him. 

It also enabled Lazarus to live-through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus; and be able to write the Fourth Gospel as an eye-witness account of the mission and teachings of Jesus.

The resurrected (but not yet ascended) Lazarus also had a pastoral role in looking-after Jesus's mother; and presumably the rest of his family; including Martha and  Mary (the Fourth Gospel tells us that Mary Magdelene was Jesus's wife and the sister of Lazarus). 

So, the raising of Lazarus is rightly at the centre of the Fourth Gospel: the most central text we have concerning Jesus Christ - our only primary and eye-witness source and by a wholly reliable witness*.

*Despite whatever - mostly minor - alterations the text has undergone since its writing; by insertion, omission, and from translation - which changes each of us can discern by sincere contemplation and with divine aid. For example, since I wrote Lazarus Writes a couple of years ago, while confident that Lazarus was resurrected, I have been intermittently concerned about the differences between what happened to Lazarus and what will happen to us. Concerned but not worried, because I knew there was an answer - but I had not yet reached it. The answer - given above - came to me this morning, and allayed all concern. Especially because it is so 'obvious' and simple an answer. The obvious is, I find, sometimes very difficult to discern - but sustained effort will get there. Although sometimes the 'answer' is discovering that the original question was ill-formed.  

1 comment:

My name is Matt said...

With things having come to a point, I'd like to think that if Lazarus is still around, he is doing more for the Good, Beautiful, and True then ever before. Massive amounts of good.