I Know Lazarus
I know Lazarus. I know some/many who were spiritually, and almost physically dead, restored to life. I know those who felt hopeless and were deemed hopeless by others, restored to abundant life. Many of us are Lazarus. The Christ comes to us and resurrects us, in this life!
As I read scripture I focus not on the literal interpretation of the event. I try to conceptualize what it is that the writer is attempting to convey; to whom and in what context. I’m led to believe that the writer of this gospel was writing to late first or early second century Christians, after the destruction of Jerusalem, and I believe that he was emphasizing in this chapter the divinity of Christ. Here John, rather than have Jesus explain his relationship with the Father via his [John’s] style of lengthy discourse, he does so by demonstrating the power of God working through the Christ.
So, Jesus did not rush to Lazarus to heal him or even to resuscitate him. After the emphasized four days and the smell of death in the tomb, the resurrection of Lazarus describes God’s power -- through Christ -- and foretells his Resurrection.
Now, whether this story describes a literal historical event does not matter to me too much, for I read scripture as metaphor, allegory, imagery. And the truth conveyed by this story is that God acts through the Christ and through people to save us from ourselves, even from death.
Death comes to us all, yes to Lazarus later on. And do we attain eternal life after that? Why wait? The words of the Eucharist are, “…keep you in eternal life.” Not help you to attain it after we die.