What Did Lazarus See?Think about this scene. One of your best friends has died. Inconsolable, you cry not only at his funeral, but for days afterward.
Then another friend of the deceased comes to visit. He starts saying strange things. You listen to him intently, because your friends' sisters have great respect for him, but you can't grasp what he means.
Finally, he commands that the grave be opened. The sisters protest, but the man is adamant. He prays loudly, looking up to heaven, then after several seconds, your dead friend walks out of his grave--alive!
If you're not familiar with the raising of Lazarus, you'll find this episode described in great detail in the 11th Chapter of the Gospel of John. But what isn't recorded seems equally as baffling. Nowhere in Scripture do we learn what Lazarus saw after he died. If you knew him, wouldn't you have asked him? Wouldn't you want to know what happens after your heart beats for the last time? Wouldn't you pester your friend until he told you everything he saw?
The Plot to Kill a Dead ManLazarus is mentioned again in John 12:10-12: "So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him." (NIV)
Whether Lazarus told his neighbors about heaven is only speculation. Perhaps Jesus commanded him to be silent about it. The fact remained, however, that he had been dead and now was alive again.
Lazarus' very presence--walking, talking, laughing, eating and drinking, embracing his family—was a cold slap in the face to the chief priests and elders. How could they credibly deny that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah when he had raised a man from the dead?
They had to do something. They couldn't dismiss this event as a magician's trick The man had been dead and in his tomb four days. Everyone in the tiny village of Bethany had seen this miracle with their own eyes and the whole countryside was buzzing about it.
Did the chief priests follow through with their plans to kill Lazarus? The Bible doesn't tell us what happened to him after Jesus' crucifixion. He's never mentioned again.
Right From the SourceSurprisingly, we don't find many hard facts about heaven in the Bible. Many of Jesus' teachings about it are in metaphors or parables. We do find a description of the heavenly city in the book of Revelation, yet there isn't much detail on what the saved will be doing there, besides praising God.
Considering that heaven is the goal of every Christian and many non-Christians as well, this lack of information seems like a serious omission.
We're curious. We want to know what to expect. Deep within every human being is the desire to find answers, to break this final mystery.
Those of us who have suffered the disappointment and heartache of this world look forward to heaven as a place where there is no pain, no hurt, and no tears. We hope for a home of endless joy, love, and communion with God.
The Most Important Truth About HeavenIn the end, our human minds are probably incapable of grasping the beauty and perfection of heaven. Maybe that's why the Bible doesn't record what Lazarus saw. Mere words could never do justice to the real thing.
The most important truth about heaven in the story of Lazarus is not what he had to say afterward. It's what Jesus said before he raised Lazarus from the dead:
- "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" (John 11:25-26 NIV)
Jack Zavada, a career writer and contributor for About.com, is host to a Christian Web site for singles. Never married, Jack feels that the hard-won lessons he has learned may help other Christian singles make sense of their lives. His articles and ebooks offer great hope and encouragement. To contact him or for more information, visit Jack's Bio Page.