Lazarus' Preexisting Condition

The following is from the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 11, Verses 1 thru 44, with embellishment in italics.

{Musical accompaniment: Five Variants of "Dives and Lazarus" by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)}

1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair ... as it was laundry day and all the towels were in the wash ... whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby ... to which Martha exclaimed, "Well, you could at least send him a Get Well card!"

5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was ... because he had been waiting all year for that particular timeshare week and wasn't about to give up any of his days. 7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judea again ... as he was trying to build up frequent flyer miles.

8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? ... to which the disciples replied, "Huh!? We always thought there were twenty-four!?" ... If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him ... and besides, in this bad economy most of the street lights have been turned off.

11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may wake him out of sleep ... as he has to be to work by 7:00 am. 12 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death : but they thought that he had spoken of taking a rest ... for the disciples accepted things at face value and did not understand the concept of a metaphor. 14 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead ... to which the disciples replied in unison, "Oh, well why the hell didn't you say that in the first place?!"

15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe ... besides, I hate hospitals ... nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus ... because he was trying to avoid bill collectors ... Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already ... causing Jesus much embarrassment that he hadn't sent flowers.

18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off ... about a ten minute ride on the subway. 19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him : but Mary sat still in the house ... as one of the visitors had gotten into the liquor cabinet and was doing sandal shots (which isn't an easy thing to do).

21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died ... to which Jesus replied, "Hey don't blame me, blame his damn HMO plan." 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again ... or at the very least, he'll move his pinky finger, that's all I can promise. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life : he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall live. 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord : I believe ... well, I believe that you believe, I mean, really, come on, the poor sod has been dead for four days -- dead, deceased, mortis, kaput, by now giving off some rather noxious fumes, I imagine ... Heck, a million volts of electricity couldn't wake him up! I mean ... I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him ... as she was a sucker for hippie types with long hair, and a beard, and sandals. 30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him ... as his GPS was not working. 31 The 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, "Hey, can you pick up a six pack of beer while you're out ... and maybe a bag of potato chips and some dip?"

32 Then 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 ... oh, by the way, your feet are filthy -- here, let me wash them! 33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled ... it may have been the egg salad sandwich he had had for lunch. 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.  35 Jesus wept ... Mary offered him her hair, but Jesus said, "Thank you, but I have a handkerchief." 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! ... although one pointed out how he hadn't even sent a sympathy card.

37 And 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? ... despite his poor health plan. 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself ... come to think of it, it might have been the coleslaw ... cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39 Jesus 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 ... and to be honest, he didn't smell all that great even when he was alive. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? ... So long as Lazarus kept up the payments on his HMO, that is.

41 Then 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. 42 And 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 ... you know ... how you hast sent me down here to earth ... you know ... to become the Son of God, and ... you know ... the Messiah, and the Saviour, and the Christ, and ... you know ... and stuff.

43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And 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. Normally, the story would end there with the resurrection of Lazarus, and there would have been much rejoicing throughout Bethany, and within the Lazarus household. But alas, poor Lazarus was hit with excessive medical bills, which his health insurance company refused to cover, claiming that his temporary state of death was a preexisting condition.

A-men.

Jack Sheedy

P.S.: In terms of providing complete Biblical / New Testament disclosure, Vaughan Williams' "Dives and Lazarus" is actually based on The Parable of the Rich Man (Dives) and the Beggar (Lazarus) from the Gospel of St. Luke 16:19-31 ... just so there is no confusion. Phew, I'm glad I got that off my chest!

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