Posted by: Scott | Sunday, October 21, 2007

Lazarus, Come Forth!

Those were the words oft uttered by my good friend, Eric Burton. Now, he was not trying to raise the dead,. They were from one of his favorite Scriptures where Jesus commanded his good friend Lazarus to arise from the grave.

Eric and I were roommates in college my Freshman year. The man was a huge encouragement to me. He was the friend that God gave me to help me through a number of first-time college experiences. He was my first roommate. Not only was he the friend God gave me, he was the friend I needed.

11bOur friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.

12Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.

13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.

14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.

16Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

17Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

18Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

19And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

21Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

22But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

23Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

26And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

27She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

29As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him.

30Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.

31The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there.

32Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.

33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.

34And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.

35Jesus wept.

36Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him!

37And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?

38Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?

41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

42And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.

43And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

44And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

45Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

46But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done.

Many were the times when it was time to get up, Eric would come into the room and proclaim, “Lazarus, come forth!”

The reason Eric liked this passage so much was because of how it taught about the power and authority of God Almighty. He did a very good dramatic reading of sorts of verses 38-44, especially when Martha says, “But Lord, he stinketh.”

Commentators have said that the Lord’s voice had so much authority, that if He had not singled out Lazarus, others including Lazarus would have risen. Some of them missed the big picture of what was going on. The Lord was not trying to show everyone that He had another miracle up his sleeve. His desire was to bring glory and honor to His Father.

Many times in my college life, Eric and I talked. We talked like you wouldn’t believe. There were a number of times we would be joking around with each other, but we had many a serious chat.

We talked about dating relationships and marriage, family life, the Scriptures, college life (classes and everything else). I could get good insights from him on just about anything.

Eric was the chaperon for my first (and thus far only) date in the 2000 Spring Formal. He was also my informant, seeking pertinent information from my date about favorite colors, flowers, and such. Though that relationship never panned out, it was a great date.

A few times, Eric and I talked all night. They were Fridays going into Saturdays of course, where sleeping in was not a huge issue. Those could be discussions about anything. Very valuable none the less, especially at a time when I was trying to figure out being very single while everyone else seemed to have their mutual-feeling special someone.

We had coffee sessions, where we’d go to Denny’s of Village Inn and talk, study, or both. One of those coffee sessions came after I found out my one date was not “the one.” He let me talk for THREE hours while we drank a couple pots of coffee. He listened and told me that he would be there anytime. And he was.

Eric helped me get through my first “Fisher class.” One of the profs was particularly famous for tough tests he called quizzes, tougher exams he called tests, and tougher who-knows-what he called exams. His classes were in the education field, so I didn’t have much to worry about, until he got a required theology course. Fortunately, Eric had not yet taken that class yet, so he signed up (something abut wanting to graduate on time) on the personal agreement that quiz, test, and exam prep was done together. More coffee!!!

An event that shocked us all was that Eric got married before I did. That continues to give me hope that one day I have a lawfully wedded wife. He continued to be a good friend.

A couple years after I graduated, I lost touch with this man that I counted among my good friends. Just didn’t write letters or anything. The other night, I received an e-mail from a mutual friend that had just returned from his funeral. His funeral!?!?!? That is shocking news. While I have commemorated my good friend, Eric, I struggle with overcoming the regret that I was not really that good of a friend the past couple years.

In the meantime I rejoice that Eric’s arthritis is no longer a disability for him; he’s in Heaven now, walking about, perhaps even running, rejoicing in the great things HE hath done. I look forward to catching up on old times with him some day.

Hopefully, he can easily fit in a coffee session when I get there.


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