The Man Who Was Dead Four Days
An article specially designed for parents to read with their children
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 someone who has died? It makes people very unhappy when someone they love dies. This is because the person is gone, and they cannot see him or talk to him anymore.
There was a death in a family that Jesus knew very well. This made everyone sad, but Jesus was able to turn the sadness to great joy. Let me tell you about it. This story will help you to see what happens to a person when he dies.
These friends of Jesus lived in Bethany, which is a small town not far from Jerusalem. There were Lazarus and his two sisters. One sister was named Martha and the other was 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 Jesus did not at once come to where Lazarus and his sisters lived. Lazarus got so sick that he died. The people buried him in a cave, and put a big stone in front of it.
When Lazarus died, Jesus knew about it right away. This is because he had the power from God to know such things. Jesus told his disciples that Lazarus was sleeping. But Jesus said that he would go to wake him.
The disciples did not understand that Jesus meant that Lazarus was dead. So they told him that if Lazarus was sleeping, he would get well. Then Jesus said in plain language that Lazarus had died.
Death is like a deep sleep, a sleep that is so deep that the person does not even dream. In death people do not feel or suffer anything. That is why Jesus said that Lazarus was sleeping when Lazarus really was dead. So this is what death is like.
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 over the loss of their brother.
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 the body of Lazarus was. At that the people led Jesus to the cave where Lazarus had been buried. Jesus then told the men there: ‘Take 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?” By that 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. He wanted the people there to know that God is the One who gave Jesus his powers. Then Jesus said in a loud voice: “Lazarus, come on out!” Would he come out? Could he?
An amazing thing happened. The man who had been dead for four days came on 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 chapter 11.
But you may ask, Where was Lazarus during the four days he was dead? Lazarus was a good man, for Jesus had only good people as his close friends. 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? Living in heaven would have been something too wonderful to keep to himself! But Lazarus did not say a word about being in heaven or anywhere else.
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.
Since death is like a deep sleep, this means that the dead cannot do anything. They are unconscious. But many persons do not know this. They are even scared to go near a graveyard because they are afraid of dead people. But is there any reason to be afraid of the dead? No, not at all. When a person is dead he cannot do good and he cannot do harm.
Can you wake up somebody who is sleeping? Yes, if you call in a loud voice, the one who is sleeping 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 any other person on earth can do to wake the dead.
But Jehovah God has given Jesus the power to raise the dead. He can bring the dead back to life again. And Jesus promises that he will do this soon under the rule of God’s kingdom. What a happy time that will be!
“Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”—John 5:28, 29.