The Easter laughter of Lazarus

Posted on April 29, 2011 by Global Mission Support

The Rev. Fred and Gloria Strickert are ELCA missionaries in Palestine. Fred is pastor of the English-speaking congregation at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. Here is an excerpt from his Easter entry in his blog, “WalkInJerusalem.”

The sunrise service overlooking the Jordan Valley.

The sunrise service overlooking the Jordan Valley.

I love coming to this spot for Easter sunrise service because of the breathtaking view of the Jordan Valley, the Judean Hills, and the Dead Sea off in the distance …

Yet more than that, this place is special for Easter because just down the hillside there to the south and across the wall is the village of al-Lazariyeh, known in the Gospels as Bethany, a village that had its share of laughter, a village that played so prominently in the stories leading up to Jesus’ suffering and death, the village of Mary, Martha and their brother, Lazarus.

Yet life was not all laughter in that village. Sometimes for them there was pain when God seemed so distant and deaf to prayers, like when ole Lazarus had died, and when it seemed that Jesus would never show up to call forth Lazarus from the tomb, when Jesus himself had tears streaming down his face …

And then on Easter morning — so very much like today — Mary and Martha perhaps joining the women on their trek to the tomb, but Lazarus resting calmly in Bethany — without worry, without fear.  For Lazarus had seen death and now experienced life.  “How could a Jesus who called me forth from the grave, find himself conquered and vanquished by the power of death?”

And so on that first Easter morning just imagine the scene when the women had returned from the tomb, the arrival in Bethany, and the announcement “Christ is risen!” and the loud roar of laughter coming up from Lazarus’ house, laughter that was the “I told you so,” laughter that greeted the rising sun. …

For the complete Easter message on Lazarus and his laughter, and the many accompanying photos of Jerusalem, please go to