From the Lips of Lazarus . . .
It’s been more than thirty years since I met Him. The day He first entered our home is etched in my mind forever. I shall never forswear those memories.
My sisters, Mary and Martha, are no longer with us. Neither is my father, Simon, whom Jesus healed of leprosy.
Most of the Teacher’s close disciples, all of whom I had the privilege of knowing, have rendered their lives for His Name’s sake.
A number of them committed to the written page their own encounters with Him. Words that I’ve read and consider to be God-breathed. Since I am not sure how much longer I have left on this earth, I wish to leave behind the story of the times Jesus came to my hometown, Bethany, and of all the people He forever changed while He was here.
The One who lived before the earth existed spent only thirty three years on the planet. And God gave me the unique honor of sharing some of those years with Him.
I did not know it at the time, but the Galilean prophet was rejected everywhere He went. When I discovered this, the irony dawned on me.
Here was the God of the universe, clothed in human flesh, turned down, cast away, refused in nearly every quarter in which He stepped.
The Creator was rejected by His own creation.
When He was born, Bethlehem closed its doors to Him. So He came into the world in the place where animals were fed. Luke always had an eye for detail. In his recent narrative about the Savior, he wrote,
And she gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
But that’s not all. When He was two years old the government hunted Him down like an animal. Consider it. The Son of God—a mere child—treated like a dangerous creature unworthy of breath. Matthew recounted the sad ordeal:
When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.
When He began His public ministry, He was rejected by His own people—my people—the Jews. John set it forth this way in his account:
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Jesus was despised, rejected, and belittled by the Jewish elite who dominated Jerusalem. They eventually colluded with the Romans and put Him to death. Yet with gripping pain and sorrow, He still loved the city that betrayed Him.
Matthew rehearsed His prayer in his narrative:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.
When He sought entrance into the despised region of Samaria, the Samaritans rejected Him also. Luke told the story, saying,
And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem.
He was even rejected by His own hometown, Nazareth, the place where He grew up. Mark captured the scene in his gospel:
“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “Only in his hometown, among his relatives and in his own house is a prophet without honor.”
Here was the earth’s Creator. The One who made all things and for whom all things were made … unwelcomed by the very world that came from His hand.
I’m reduced to tears every time I think about it; there was only one exception to this widespread rejection.
Throughout His short time on earth, my sisters and I determined that there would be one place where Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God, would be welcomed.
A little village called Bethany.
God’s favorite place on earth.