April 11, 2009

Holy Saturday, April 11

We continue with our journey to Easter with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, in the desolation of their mourning.
(By Cynthia Davis)

The home of Lazarus of Bethany was quiet through the Sabbath day. Even the servants were silent as they went about their tasks. Mary held the jar of nard tightly as if afraid she would lose it if she set it down.
“This is the same way I felt when Lazarus died,” Mary wept to her sister.
Lazarus stroked her hair in an attempt at comfort.
“Jesus brought our brother back to life,” Martha reminded her siblings. “Why couldn’t he save himself? He told me then ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will never die.’ I don’t understand.”
“I do not understand how this could be the will of God,” agreed the man. He moved to stare out the doorway. “After the Sabbath we will join the disciples in Jerusalem. They are at Jacob’s home.”
“Let us go now,” Mary suggested. “As soon as the sun sets it will not be breaking the commandment. I want to be able to go to the grave tomorrow. Jesus told me to use this for…his…his….”
She could not finish the sentence. Instead, the woman held out the jar of perfumed oil as a reminder of her duty.
“Yes,” urged Martha, “let us go as soon as we are able. There will be few on the road to the city.” “Very well,” Lazarus nodded. “I too want to be with friends. The Gentile gate will be open for it never closes.”
Despite his optimism, it was almost dawn by the time Lazarus and his sisters reached the home of Jacob in Jerusalem. They had to wait outside the city in a cue of eager traders while especially careful Roman guards examined the loads and questioned each person entering the city.
“What is happening?” One Syrian merchant grumbled. “I have never seen such thorough work by the Romans.”
“It is because of the crucifixion a couple of days ago,” explained a nearby Nubian. “Pilate sentenced two thieves to death and also the one everyone believed was the Messiah.”
“I heard of him,” chimed in a third trader. “He was the young rabbi from up north, wasn’t he?”
“That’s the one,” nodded the informant. “In fact, I heard that some say he will rise from the dead.”
“No one does that!” scoffed the Syrian.
“Don’t know about that, but the Romans posted a guard at the tomb and are checking everyone to be sure they aren’t smuggling a body into the city to claim he did rise.”
“I heard he raised some man in Bethany who was dead four days,” argued a heavily accented voice nearby.
Everyone looked around for the speaker.
Mary and Martha drew close to Lazarus when the Syrian faced them.
“You are a Jew. What do you think?”
Lazarus lifted his chin. The women held their breath. Martha gripped her brother’s hand tightly. “I heard that story,” he said slowly.
“Hurry up! We are moving!” Someone called from behind the group.
Gratefully the trio let the Syrian hurry away to gain entrance to Jerusalem.
“Would you have told him it was you?” Mary asked softly.“I don’t know,” the man answered. “I don’t know.”

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