The Man Who Was Dead Four Days
ISN’T it wonderful to be alive? Do you enjoy life?— I enjoy living. When we are alive we can do so many interesting things.
But did you know that no man has lived forever?— Sooner or later all persons have died. Do you know of someone who has died?—
Once a good friend of Jesus died. This friend lived in Bethany, a small town not far from Jerusalem. His name was Lazarus, and he had two sisters, named Martha and Mary.
One day Lazarus got very sick. Jesus was far away at the time. So Martha and Mary sent word to him that their brother Lazarus was sick. Why did they do this? Because they knew that Jesus could make their brother well. Jesus was not a doctor, but he had power from God so that he could cure every kind of sickness.
But before Jesus came, Lazarus got so sick that he died. Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus was sleeping. But Jesus said that he would go to wake him up. The disciples did not understand what Jesus meant. So, then Jesus said plainly that Lazarus had died. Death is like a deep sleep, a sleep that is so deep that the person does not even dream.
Jesus now went to visit Martha and Mary. There were also many friends of the family there. They had come to comfort Martha and Mary because their brother had died.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him. Soon Mary also came out to see Jesus. She was very sad and was crying, and she fell at his feet. Other friends, who had followed Mary, were also crying. When Jesus saw all the people crying, he became sad and started to cry too.
The Great Teacher asked where they had laid Lazarus. At that the people led Jesus to the cave where Lazarus had been buried. Jesus then told the men there: ‘Roll the stone away from the front of the cave.’ Should they do it?—
Martha did not think it was right. She said: ‘Lord, by now he must smell, for he has been dead four days.’ And it is true that dead bodies do smell bad after a while.
But Jesus said to her: “Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” Jesus meant that Martha would see something that would bring honor to God. What was Jesus going to do?
When the stone had been removed, Jesus prayed out loud to Jehovah. Then Jesus said in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come on out!” Would he come out? Could he?—
Well, can you wake up somebody who is sleeping?—Yes, if you call in a loud voice, he will wake up. But can you wake up someone who is sleeping in death?— No. No matter how loud you call, the one who is dead will not hear. There is nothing that you or I can do to wake the dead.
But Jesus is different. He has special power from God. So, when Jesus called Lazarus, an amazing thing happened. The man who had been dead for four days came out of the cave! He had been brought back to life! He could breathe and walk and speak again! Yes, Jesus raised Lazarus after he had been dead four days! Wasn’t that wonderful?— —John 11:1-44.
But you may ask, Where was Lazarus during the four days he was dead? Did Lazarus go to heaven when he died? Was he alive up there with God and the holy angels?—
Think now: If Lazarus had been in heaven during those four days, would he not have said something about it?— And if he were in heaven, would Jesus have made him come back from that wonderful place?— The Bible does not say that Lazarus was in heaven.
Remember, Jesus said that Lazarus was sleeping. What is it like when you are asleep?—
When you are in a very deep sleep, you do not know what is going on around you, do you?— And when you wake up you do not know how long you have been sleeping until you look at a clock.
It is like that with dead persons. They do not know anything that is happening. They do not feel anything. And they cannot do anything.
But some people are afraid of the dead. They won’t go near a graveyard, because they think that the dead might harm them. Can you imagine that? Can a dead person harm someone who is alive?— No, the Bible says that the dead are not able to do anything at all.
Have you ever heard anyone say that on a certain day the dead come back as spirits to visit the living?— Some people believe that. So they set out food for the dead. Or they may have special parties on those days. But do you think that people who do those things really believe what God says about the dead?—
Do you believe what God says?— If we do, we won’t be afraid of the dead, but we will be glad that we are alive. And if we are really thankful to God for life, we will show it by the way we live our lives each day. We will do the things that God approves.