I was driving home listening to 950KPRC in Houston in February of 2005 when they were having a news break at the top of the hour. A story came on which I had heard earlier on the news that day, but this time the introduction particularly stuck out. It was the story of a pedestrian in North Carolina who was hit by an automobile. The 29 year old Larry Green was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics. He was placed in a body bag and sent to the morgue. When the medical examiner was beginning his examination he noticed the man take a breath. The man was rushed to the hospital where he was listed in critical condition. The newsbreak intro was exciting-ly, “A real life Lazarus!” to which I internally replied, “A real life Lazarus?!?!?!”
There are three reasons that this man in North Carolina was anything but a “real life Lazarus”; 1) Nature of his death 2) Nature of his healing 3) Purpose for both. First, the nature of both of these men’s deaths was not similar. Larry Green was pronounced dead, but that could have been a mistake which is already the focus of an internal police investigation. Even if he really was dead at the scene it was only moments later that he was alive in the morgue. According to John 11:39 Lazarus had been dead for 4 days so while Larry Green was thought to be dead for about 2 hours the death of Lazarus was certain for 4 days. Lazarus had already been wrapped for burial, placed in the tomb, and was expected to have the stench of decay. The relation of the certainty and longevity of these two men are hardly comparable.
Likewise, the nature of the healing of both of these men is equally incomparable. Larry Green, if he was really dead at all, is listed in critical condition at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. The breath that was noticed by the mortician and police officer in the morgue was so subtle that they both had to closely look for a few moments to be certain they had actually seen Mr. Green take a breath. According to John 11:44, upon Jesus command, Lazarus came forth out of the cave completely wrapped in his bandages by his own free will and ability. Lazarus was immediately restored to a full normal measure of health as were all the recorded recipients of Jesus healing power. There was no waiting and no delay. Unfortunately Mr. Green is on a ventilator in the hospital and does not have consciousness. As you can see, the recovery of these men is not comparable.
Third is the purpose for both the death and restoration of these men. Let me be clear, it is not certain that Mr. Green was ever actually dead; but if he was we have no definite purpose as to why he was killed or why he is alive today. In regard to Lazarus it is very clear why he died and was raised; so that the people might believe. In John 11:4 Jesus said to His disciples that Lazarus was sick “that the Son of God might be glorified by it.” Again in John 11:42 Jesus stated that, “because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me.” John 11:45 con-firms that, “Many therefore of the Jews, who had come to Mary and beheld what He had done, believed in Him.” John 20:31-31 further illustrates that “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” I hope Mr. Green has a complete recovery and goes on to live a healthy active life. This article is in no way diminishing his right to live, but rather, focuses on the ignorance of the media and the world they represent or portray.
What really rubbed me wrong about the newsbreak was the phrase “real life”, as if the Lazarus of the Bible was not real. In fact, however, when examining the nature of Lazarus’ death, the nature of his healing, and the purpose of both it confirms that in-deed Lazarus was real. There is no historical evidence to refute that he was a real man, and there is no other document more historically reliable and accurate than the Bible which has been proven time and time again. The world will always have its doubters, but it is stories like the “real life story of Lazarus” that strengthens my faith as a Christian and makes me more confident of the gospel and its truth.