John 12:9–11 (ESV) — 9 When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
Forgive my going back to repost this, but in reading this portion again today, I was once again so tickled by the irony of the chief priests making plans to put Lazarus to death after Jesus had raised him. Can you imagine how the threat of death was useless, so empty to Him? It would be so utterly absurd to try and strike fear into this man’s heart as to be laughable in every sense of the word. And so I repeat a poem written quite a while back and shared before. But I trust it cheers your own soul today as you contemplate that the physical death which awaits us (should Christ tarry) is nothing compared to the death in trespasses and sins He has already raised the Believer from. Fear not beloved, the Mater of Life and Death reigns.
Laz’rus! Have you heard the news?
The word’s all over town
The Priests, the Scribes and Pharisees
all want to bring you down
They’re plotting when and planning where
it’s best to take you out
Their minds are set, their hearts are hard
They’ll move without a doubt
The more I squawked and stammered on
the more his face would shine
And leaning back in perfect peace
He said “son, pay no mind”
“They’re scheming what? Now think with me
To kill me? That’s the plan?
Now hear me son, I’ve walked that path,
and walked it back again
“They really think that’s going to throw
a panic into me?
I’ve stared at death from inside out
and that’s some sight to see!
“Now I’m supposed to shake and quake
at threats from mortal men,
And hold my tongue from telling all
Christ raised me up again?
“You’ve got…, you’ve got…”, he started out
in trying to explain
“You’ve got to just be kidding me!”
Then, like bursting from some pain –
He let a howl from deep inside
escape with such a roar
I’m sure they heard him miles away
Or three or maybe four
The loudest, deepest, grandest laugh
that ever man has heard
erupted till the rafters shook.
A laugh the whole world heard.
As tears were streaming down his cheeks
he heaved and gasped for air
Then thinking he had stopped himself
broke out again and blared
“They’re going to try and kill me!
The man who Jesus raised!
Like death could ever scare me now –
Christ’s precious name be praised!”
And then he laughed, and laughed some more
Till all of us laughed too
in joy too deep for human words
Though shared by all too few
The promise of eternal life
Came crashing in on all
That Jesus truly conquered death
And triumphed o’er the Fall
No fear of death bound Lazarus
No threat could make him doubt
He’d known the power of Christ our Lord
Though buried – he came out
At just a word from Jesus’ lips
the power of death was gone
and life returned to lifeless flesh
The Kingdom Light had dawned
The day will come when we’ll laugh too
The trump of Christ will sound
And all the dead in Christ the Lord
will rise up from the ground
And meeting Jesus in the air,
with all who still remain
With Lazarus and all the rest
We’ll laugh at death and pain
In raptured sobs of joy and glee
We’ll reign with Him on high
And never feel the whispered lisp
Of pain or grieving’s sigh
We’ll shake our head like Lazarus did
at the foolishness of fear
To think – we’re loved by Christ the King
No joy, can be so dear
No doubt when Lazarus heard the news
that men sought his dispatch
He just lit up and shook his head –
Don’t doubt it, Laz’rus laughed
Wow! You did it again Reid! This is fantastic. What I call “hittin’ on all 8 cylinders.” I am passing this along for others to marvel at. I preached a sermon on this passage in 2011 along a similar vein of thought as part of my series “Men Who Died With a Smile on Their Face.” This one was subtitled “Once More Through the Tomb.” I began with some of the concluding lines from the movie “Cool Hand Luke” (Paul Newman as Luke) that came to mind again while reading your poem.
“Dragline (George Kennedy): He was smiling… That’s right. You know, that, that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end….if they didn’t know it ‘fore, they could tell right then that they weren’t a-gonna beat him. That old Luke smile. Oh, Luke. He was some boy. Cool Hand Luke….he’s a natural-born world-shaker.” You turned the smile into a laugh in your poem, and it really resonates with me, as I’m sure it will with others. P.S. Three other examples of “Men Who Died With a Smile on Their Face” already preached in my planned 12 sermon series are: Samson, One Push From Glory; The Thief on the Cross, The Last Old Covenant Saint; and Stephen, First New Covenant Martyr.
By the way, I am reminded that I first encountered this great poem of yours on 2 AUG 2007 in an email to a list we both were part of. You mentioned this being a “repost.” Was the poem presented earlier on ResponsiveReiding?