“Jesus wept”—so the Gospels tell us. The grief of the sisters of dead Lazarus stirred the compassion of Jesus, and what followed were his tears. Experience this historical moment, and see for yourself the compassion and power of God.
What follows is an excerpt from the novel, We Called Him Yeshua. They called him Yeshua; we call him Jesus.
– Anna –
We rounded a corner and the cluster of houses slid into view. It had been several days since we first passed through and a man ran out saying someone was sick. The same man appeared as we approached.
“Where is he?” Yeshua asked.
“Lord, we laid him in the tomb three days past.”
“They’re in the house. They haven’t come out all morning.”
Several people milled around the houses, probably family and friends come to mourn. Some huddled together, some stood off by themselves. Many of them were crying. The air felt heavy with grief—not what I needed. A woman ducked through the low doorway of one of the houses and walked straight to Yeshua.
“Lord,” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
“Your brother will rise again.”
The woman said something I couldn’t hear. I think Yeshua asked about someone called Mary. The woman turned and walked back to the house.
She came back with another woman behind her, a younger woman, a pretty woman. They looked like sisters. But where the older one looked motherly and strong, the younger one looked sweet, pure … and weak. She hadn’t been used, as I had been—I could see it in her face.
When the pretty one reached Yeshua, she fell at his feet, weeping. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Her tears dripped onto his dust-covered feet, and I remembered. That was me … all those days ago. My knees trembled and my stomach squirmed, and the jealousy rose again in my chest.
“Mary,” Yeshua said, his voice shaking. He leaned down and placed a hand on the young woman’s shoulder. Without lifting her head, she reached up and clasped his hand in hers. My knees began to collapse.
Someone grabbed my shoulders and held me steady. Jared. His soft smile eased some of the burden. I looked back as Yeshua took the young one’s hands in his and lifted her to her feet. Glancing at the older sister, he asked, “Where have you laid him?”
The older woman pointed to the rocky hill on the other side of the road. Yeshua let go of the pretty one and turned around. Sunlight sparkled off tears streaming down his cheeks. “The Son of God is weeping,” Jared gasped.
The Son of God? But, to me Yeshua had always been a man, the son of man, as he often called himself. A man full of love, compassion … and passion. A man who weeps—I’d seen those tears before. Yet Jared’s words woke me to the reality that he was also God. I’d forgotten—maybe I’d wanted to. Oh, how could I, a whore, love such a man? I tried to turn and run, but Jared held me tight.
Yeshua faced the tomb, and whispered, “Take away the stone.”
Led by Simon, several of The Twelve walked toward the hillside. I looked back at the sisters—the pretty one’s eyes never left Yeshua. He glanced back at her as the men walked up the hill. She pulled her hair to one side, exposing her soft, white neck. Her fingertips touched her mouth, and a tear slid down her quivering cheek. My stomach trembled.
“But Lord,” the older sister said, “by this time there will be a bad odor, for he has been there several days.”
Yeshua turned to her and tenderly said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
The men approaching the tomb suddenly stopped and clasped their hands over their noses. They hastily pulled up the edge of their cloaks to mask the smell of decay. They crept up to the tomb slowly, nervously glancing at each other. Then, each with his free hand, they struggled and grunted, and soon broke the stone free from its resting place and wrestled it off to the side, exposing the small, dark entrance. They dashed back to the road, gasping for breath.
Yeshua dropped to his knees and stretched his arms to the sky. “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I know that you always hear me, but I say this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me, and that all power comes from you.”
Then, with a loud voice, Yeshua called, “Lazarus, come out!”
A chill shook my body as I stared at the black mouth of the tomb entrance. Suddenly, a brilliantly white flash burst out of the tomb, brighter than the sun, driving away the darkness. It immediately faded to a soft glow, flickered, and went out. Then … movement. Something, someone, was crawling out of the tomb. The person stood and swayed on trembling legs. “Take off the grave cloths and let him go,” Yeshua said.
The sisters ran to the man and began un-wrapping the cloth strips, tears streaming down their faces. As the sisters worked feverishly and the man’s face emerged, we saw his confused and tired expression.
“Take him home,” Yeshua said, “give him some food and let him rest. He has had a long journey.”
The sisters each took an arm and helped Lazarus toward the house. Yeshua watched them a moment, then turned to face the tomb. He walked to the dark entrance, stopping a few paces away. He just stood there, staring into the blackness. Suddenly he fell to his knees and buried his face in his hands.
I took a frantic step toward him, but Jared pulled me back. “Leave him be.”
After several minutes, Yeshua slowly stood and turned his back on the tomb. When he reached the road, he turned toward Jericho, away from Jerusalem. He took several steps down that road, then stopped, his arms hanging limp at his sides, his fists clenched. He stood rigid, staring straight ahead. A moment later, he turned and walked back to where the rest of us waited.
The pretty sister, Mary, suddenly ran from the house, back to Yeshua and wrapped her arms around him. “Don’t go,” she wept.
Yeshua softly took her head in his hands, tilted it back to look into her face, and smoothed her hair away from her moist eyes. They just looked at each other. A few moments later, he unwrapped her arms from his waist, clasped her small hands within his, and kissed her fingertips.
“It is nearly time for me to make the same journey Lazarus has made,” he whispered. “I must go back to Jerusalem, one last time.”
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