Lazarus, come forth!

by chuckofish

Sunday’s gospel lesson was John 11:1-45 which is a long lesson, the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Our associate rector gave a really good sermon comparing the tomb of Lazarus to ourselves when we lose interest in life, when we are no longer fully alive. Our savior does not come into the tomb with us, but stands at the door and calls us to come out. I thought that he made a good point.

This made me think of the famous painting, the Light of the World by William Holman Hunt:


This is an allegorical painting illustrating Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me”. The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing (according to Hunt) “the obstinately shut mind”.

Here are some artistic representations of Jesus calling Lazarus forth:

A 3rd century version

A 3rd century version

Giotto's version

Giotto’s version

Rembrandt's version

Rembrandt’s version

Carl Heinrich Bloch's version

Carl Heinrich Bloch’s version

Vincent Van Gogh's Lazarus

Vincent Van Gogh’s Lazarus

None of them do much for me. These images are, however, as Frederick Buechner says, “the wordless, eloquent, tongue-tied, clumsy, joyous and grieving cry of centuries” trying to depict the un-depictable.

But to get back to what I started to say…We must come forth and live our lives and do the work we are meant to do.

Robert Powell as Jesus calls Lazarus forth

Robert Powell as Jesus calls Lazarus forth

Thoughts? Discuss among yourselves.