Reflections on Faith & Life for the Years of Winter…
Recently a fragment of The Dead See Scrolls was discovered on a floppy disc in a discarded Commodore 64 in the back room of the Habitat Restore. It appears to answer the question of what Lazarus did after Jesus got him out of his tomb. Technicians in Mumbai, Arkansas are working on the rest of the disc to see if they can recover any other fragments. Here is what they have so far…
I am Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. I was a disciple of Jesus, although not one of The Twelve. I followed Jesus almost from the beginning. My home is in Bethany, but I was in Galilee when Jesus first started to teach and heal. I wrote down what Jesus said and did. The other disciples made fun of me. “The Kingdom is coming, tootie head. What’s the need of your silly writing?”
Jesus didn’t approve, either, but for a different reason. When he heard the disciples laugh at me, he sent for me. That is how we met.
“True religion is of the Word of God, not the words of men,” he said. “The Spirit blows like the wind. Stone is too heavy for the wind and papyrus is too light. The Spirit writes neither on stone nor papyrus but on the heart.”
“My head is like stone and my mind is like papyrus,” I told him, “so I must write it down in order to understand and remember.”
Jesus laughed, but it wasn’t the same laughter as the disciples. “Go ahead then, wiseacre,” he told me. “You write it down and I’ll tell you it’s not worth it and we’ll let God sort it out.”
That was the start of our friendship. Jesus always liked a wiseacre. He seemed to like best the ones in whom others saw little value. I was one of those.
Later, when Jesus spoke of the road of God being long and narrow, he said it was good that I wrote stuff down.
“They think the Kingdom will come soon,” he said, “but they are wrong. It is already here. It is the end that will come soon, for each of us, but only God knows when the world itself will end, and God is infinitely patient. The journey will be much longer than anyone now knows. Perhaps in time to come, God will use your words.”
But this is not about me. This is my account of the work of Jesus before he ascended to the Kingdom beyond, when he brought the Good News of the Kingdom of God. I did not know it when I started this writing, but I know it now: Jesus was and is the Christ, the Son of God, the one who is Lord even of the Law and the Prophets.
God sent a messenger to prepare the way. As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, “Behold, I send my messenger before you. He will prepare your way. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the way of the Lord. Make his paths straight.”
The messenger was called John the Southern Baptist, because he appeared in the wilderness of Judea, the southern kingdom, preaching the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. People from all of Judea and from Jerusalem were going out to him and were baptized by him in the river Jordan and they were confessing their sins. I went out, too, and I had many sins to confess, but I was afraid to be baptized, because John the Southern Baptist was scary. He ate locusts.
He preached: “One is coming after me who’s mightier than I. I’m not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
That was when Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And he heard a voice coming from heaven saying, “You are my son, my beloved. With you I am well pleased.”
I was there, and so were others. Later Jesus asked me if I had seen the heavens opened or heard the voice. I had to tell him I had not. The others gave no indication they had, either, but I have no doubt it happened.
You see, you have to be open to heaven to see the heavens opened.