Thursday, March 20, 2008

Maundy Thursday: Thoughts of Lazarus

Today is known as Maundy Thursday. The morning celebration of these events marks the beginning of what is called the Easter Triduum or Sacred Triduum. Triduum is a cool word, because of the "double u" spelling. I sometimes wonder if 'triduum' was supposed to be spelled 'tridvm' when they made the global replace from 'uu' to 'w', but a few words sort of got left out.

About now, you are probably thinking, "this is not your normal Christian Holy Day (or feast day) post. And you would be right.

I am going to talk about one specific story in the Bible, but I hope not to get too preachy. I also hope not to get to sacrilegious because it would suck to excommunicated for a blog entry.

The story concerns Lazarus. For those who slept through Sunday school, Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, fell ill. His two sisters, Mary and Martha, knew he was gravely ill (see the pun there – gravely ill?) and sent word to Jesus. Jesus delayed – he was a busy guy, after all, and when he finally arrived at Bethany, Laz was dead four days. In the presence of a crowd of Jewish mourners (you have to have witnesses to write these things down or tell people to write them down), Jesus had the stone rolled away from the tomb and ordered Lazarus to come out. Out comes Laz, still wrapped in his grave-cloths. The narrator claims, and many Biblical scholars concur, this miracle convinced many other Jews of Jesus' divinity.

This was sort of the beginning of the end for Jesus. Shortly thereafter, you had Jesus coming into Jerusalem, knocking over tables, and so forth, the events celebrated/remembered during Holy Week.

End of religious stuff that make some people barf, while giving others hope.

What I want to know is when Lazarus died again, what did his relatives think? I mean, you had a guy being raised from the dead, and if it was my relative, I would probably wait a few days. Why wrap the guy in grave clothes, place him in a tomb, roll a heavy rock in front of the entrance, and then have to undue all of those preparations.

Or when your sister or brother says, Laz is dead. You would be thinking, "Right, good one." I mean, Laz was already dead. Jesus said something about raising folks up afterwards. If I was one of Laz's relatives, I would have thought perhaps he would be staying on the Earth "until the last day."

And if you think about it, a lot of the people who were Jesus's contemporaries, probably thought that "the last day" would probably occur within their lifetimes. I mean, so much history had occurred in a few short years. Think about it.

When others are praying or looking at Ms. Dingleberry's cleavage, I sometimes wonder about things surrounding the sermons. Also, not sure if I were Laz, when I would celebrate my birth day. I mean, you would have a birth day and re-birth day. How cool would that be?


Writer Guy said...

Not unlike other biblical stories, we don't hear much of Lazarus after his big day. I've often wondered if maybe Lazarus isn't still kicking, maybe he's a CPA in Manhattan, or a rabbi in Israel?

If you ever run into him, you'll recognize him. He's the guy that smells like death and old burial cloth.

LarryLilly said...

He is Dick Cheney. After all, he has been brought back from the dead a few more times with his bad ticker, he spent some time hidden back after 9-11. Yep, Laz is Dick Cheney.

Prata said...

Interestingly..putrefaction begins somewhere within 4-10 days depending on heat and the like. Fly eggs are laid within 24 hours of death. That means 24 hours after that...larva are hatching. Did the Bible mention rigor....putrefaction or any other unseemly things about Lazarus' body?

No, I think he just came out and everyone rejoiced, besides the fact he would have been (with that heat considering the area) pretty well on his way through the second stage of death..ripe with insects. Odd.

Did he die in winter maybe? Or perhaps he wasn't actually dead to begin with but in a coma?

kathi said...

I've thought of all these things too, well...not about Ms. D's cleavage, but about the rest of it. :)
Ripe, rotting? I guess if He can can make you alive again, He can make you whole again. Acutally, come to think about it, I'm certain of that fact...been there and done that.

Prata said...

Fact is a little bit of a stretch, so I'm not sure I follow.

The story of Lazarus does not mention Jesus laying hands upon the man or otherwise involving himself physically with the body of Lazarus. Nor is there mention of the stench that would have come from such an act as opening the burial sight (nor is it implied) the man has been dead for 4 days?

So, it's not really stating fact so much as some sort of story to impart meaning upon the reader right? I think that's more accurate and honest.

Aside from that...his clothing still would have been laden with insects which also isn't mentioned despite "making one whole again"..which isn't at all provable but you and all.

Writer Guy said...

So I had to look it up, for my own sake. It's from Laz's sister Martha that we learn he's been dead four days, and even she admits there will be an odor.

But again, my faith tells me he rose from the dead... To me it's an unexplainable mystery.

SSC said...

Hmm, very interesting. I enjoyed the read. Thank you!!!

Advizor said...

Another interesting part of the story is that in Jewish tradition, the spirit stays near the body for three days, so, the fact that Jesus chose to delay until th 4th day, removed the excuse that he "wasn't really dead."

We also can make the distinction between being "raised from the dead" which happened to several people in the scriptures, and being resurrected, which is the change from mortality (subject to death) and immortality (victorious over death).

Leesa said...

writer guy: I normally don't watch television, but I saw a PBS special that talked about Jesus' relatives. Fascinating. I knew some of the stuff between James and Paul, but it was really interesting, nonetheless.

larry: if he were Dick Chaney, I guess filling a guy full of buckshot is no biggie. You could be onto something.

prata: he died in the spring. It would have been cool in the evening, but not cold.

kathi: beautiful words, Kathy. Beautiful words.

prata: the story has many omissions, to be sure. They did take off his grave wrappings. I am sure they were putrid.

writer guy: I am with you. But I had these thoughts cross my mind a few weeks ago in Church.

ssc: you are welcome, dear.

advizor: I did not know about the three-day rule. Interesting.

Prata said...

I did not know that they were of the opinion the soul lingered for 3 days either. I thought that came from another culture. I need to go read about that..bugger all! ^_^