A Funeral For Lazarus


A number of years ago I attended the funeral of my Uncle. He has been in ill health for many, many years. Countless members of his family traveled long distances to pay their respects. His funeral was filled with beautiful music and testimonies from loved ones of his life. During most of his mortal time on earth, my uncle has suffered from the symptoms of Diabetes. He had several organ transplants, including his kidney and pancreas. On more than one occasion, he appeared to be near death, only to recover and continue onward. His victory over death went on for decades. Even so, he was still a relatively young man of sixty-eight when he passed away. In cheating death so often, he was affectionately given the nickname “The Lazarus Man” by my family. And although over the years, he won each battle over death, in the end, he lost the war. The day of a funeral even comes for Lazarus!

Perhaps you remember the story of the Biblical Lazarus whom my Uncle was warmly nicknamed. He was a follower of Jesus, as were his sisters Martha and Mary. His story is found in the eleventh chapter of John.

“Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha… Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus…Then when Jesus came, he found that he (Lazarus) had lain in the grave four days already…Jesus saith unto her (Martha), Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:1,5, 23-27)

The scriptural account then goes on to record that Jesus called Lazarus forth from the tomb. Lazarus, though expired four days, comes forth from the land of the dead to live again. This miracle is symbolic of Christ’s power over death. Not just the physical, but also the spiritual! Lazarus the man is mentioned, by name, only once more in the scriptural records. But there are traditions of varying accounts as to the outcome of his life. The date of his “second” death is uncertain. But this much is for sure, there was another funeral held for Lazarus.

As I sat in the pews, I was again reminded of the fragile nature of this life. I know that someday a funeral service will be held for me. That date is out there. Time and place to be revealed! As I looked around and saw the wet eyes, and rolling tears on those who loved my Uncle, it was clear to me that the words spoken by my Father, like many others at such services, were true. He testified that the only hope we have, is our hope in the power of the resurrection, as made possible by our Savior. In this we gain some comfort. It is a terrible thing to lose a loved one. It is an emptiness that can best be described only by those who have experienced it. It is a void that will not be satisfied, and cannot be filled till “that” day! “That” day is the day of resurrection as promised by the Lord. It is on “that” day when the emptiness and loneliness will end for those that suffer from the gulf of separation. “The day of resurection may be far off, but it is getting closer by the minute. It is getting closer because “that” day exists! It is real and it is made possible by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who suffered and died for us so that we might live again.

Lazarus may have been the only man to have had two funeral services. Others, like my Uncle, may have put off that service for years. But, in the end, a service has been held, or will be held for all who have walked this earth. Our physical bodies will lie in a box. To be deposited in the ground, becoming “dust!” I shudder to think that that will be the end of who I am, or that of everyone I have ever loved. I know it isn’t! I know that through the sacrifice of our Savior, I will live again. You will live again! We are eternal! Thanks be to a loving Father who designed a plan whereby we can live together, with our loved ones, in His presence for eternity. I believe this to be true and know it is so in my heart!

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