Georgiana (Wolff) Kingscote.

Lazarus; a tale of the world's great miracle online

. (page 1 of 23)
Online LibraryGeorgiana (Wolff) KingscoteLazarus; a tale of the world's great miracle → online text (page 1 of 23)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


LIBRARY

; CaW

/INE






Jfe



LAZARUS



A TALE OF THE
WORLD'S GREAT
MIRACLE ,



./

LUCAS CLEEVE







" Now a certain man was sick, named
Lazarus, of Bethany." ST. JOHN xi. i.

" Now Jesus loved Martha, and her
sister, and Lazarus." ST. JOHN xi. 5.

" Then said Jesus unto them plainly,
Lazarus is dead." ST. JOHN xi. 14.

" He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus,
come forth." ST. JOHN xi. 43.



NEW YORK
E. P. BUTTON & COMPANY

31 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
1897



L3



COPYRIGHT

E. P. DUTTON & CO.
1897



Ube "Knickerbocker (res0,



LAZARUS



" When mourning o'er this stone I bend
Which covers him that was my friend,
From his hand, his voice, his smile,
I am divided for a while.
Saviour, mark the tears I shed,
For Thou didst weep o'er Lazarus dead."



LAZARUS.



CHAPTER I.

THE faint red lights of Jerusalem were twinkling
in the distance. The sun had vanished, leav-
ing that strange ruddy glow behind it that, in the
East, usurps the place of twilight. On the rose-
pink flushings of the sky, tiny, pale yellow stars
appeared at every moment, like primroses springing
up on a clover field, and, with their appearance, the
sky grew a greener blue, to form a fitter setting.
The palm trees looked almost black against these
jewel tints, and the blue olive trees grew grey, as if
about to die, and everywhere was silence, except for
distant croaking of frogs, or barking of wild dogs.

Alone, along the road of Jericho that led to Beth-
any, walked Lazarus, the youngest ruler of the Syna-
gogue, the son of Simon the Leper.

Poetic and dreamy always, to-night he walked
more wrapped in thought than usual, for his heart
was full of a great unrest. One of the closest ob-
servers of the Mosaic Law, as Lazarus was, some-
thing to-day had stirred his thoughts with a clashing
dissonance he could not account for. A poor Jew
had been brought before Caiaphas for failing to pay



2 LAZARUS.

a money changer. The man's story had been a
piteous one of sickness and bad crops, and a terrible
overcharge on the part of the usurer; yet Caiaphas
had but shrugged his shoulders at the tale.

" Thou hast thy remedy," he had said to the
creditor. " He has houses and fields, he owes thee
money; take them. Why come to me ? "

Something, he knew not what, in the High Priest's
tone, had fallen on his ear like a wrong note in a
tune. Was this justice ? For justice is ever man's
measure-tape of right. To Lazarus the words of
Moses came back: " If thou lend money to any of
My people that is poor by thee, thou shalt not be to
him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him
usury."

Something in the man's despairing voice and look
had seemed to open out new thoughts of grief to
Lazarus. What was bitterness, where was healing
for its sting ? What was life ? Why was life ?
What was he, Lazarus, doing, walking along that
road ? Who was he ?

Suddenly earth appeared to him as but a hillock,
and men mere creeping insects hurrying up and
down it. Yet the ancients said that man's soul was
immortal. God had appeared to Abraham and
Moses. Would He appear again ?

Surely David and all the prophets had sung of a
Messiah. Surely there must be an ending some-
where to grief and trouble, such as that of the poor
man he had seen that morning. Surely there was
somewhere a justice not based on human moods, or
swayed by human caprice.

Yes, like a flash of lightning on a darksome night,



LAZARUS. 3

or the sudden blaze from a log that falls from its
place, there sprang up for him a strange new mean-
ing in life. So much did the reflection move him,
that he paused by the low wall, and looked back
towards Jerusalem, a dark mass, now lying like a
gaunt shadow with weird shape across the valley, a
faint radiance showing only where the roof of the
Temple lay. Absolute Justice! Absolute Truth!
Right, real Right, independent of creature. Could
they be found ?

Yes, it was possible; he felt it, and as he turned
his face upwards toward the sky, and as the cool
night air fanned with soothing gentleness his lips, a
voice seemed to whisper to his soul: " Seek!
Seek!"

Presently, at the turning of the road, from the
gloom emerged another figure, and a voice cried out :
" Hail, friend Lazarus. I come to sup with thee."

The voice was young and fresh, and vigorous as
Lazarus's own, but with a serious vibration in it that
spoke of constant introspection.

" No friend I would more gladly see this night,"
said Lazarus, with truth in every accent ; for Nico-
demus had been from childhood ever his greatest
and most valued friend, and, like himself, was a
young and promising ruler of the Synagogue.

" Whence comest thou, Nicodemus ? Thou wast
not at the Sanhedrim at all to-day. ' '

" Nay, but if I tell thee, thou wilt laugh," said
Nicodemus.

" Methinks 't would do me good to laugh, for my
thoughts were sad while thou didst come this way.

Then, lowering his voice and coming close to



4 LAZARUS.

Lazarus, Nicodemus whispered: " I went to hear
speak this strange Man, after whom the people have
gone mad, and I can assure thee, noble Lazarus, that
His preaching is no mean thing. Verily never heard
I man speak like this Man."

" I, too, have heard rumours of His preaching.
'T is some poor fellow that hath followed in the
doctrines of John the Baptist," answered Lazarus.
"What preacheth He ? "

" Baptism and Repentance of Sins," answered
Nicodemus; " and yet more, He speaketh of For-
giveness."

" Who shall forgive sins but God only ?" ques-
tioned Lazarus.

" Methinks verily 't is some prophet from God,"
said Nicodemus, " and it surpriseth me that neither
Annas nor any other of the priests doth take notice
of this matter, for seemingly, 't is one of vast im-
portance. About the manner of this Man's birth
there are marvellous accounts, and even as a child
He did say and do most wondrous things ; and His
face, I cannot tell thee, Lazarus, how beautiful it is.
It hath an expression of mingled purity and power,
and it troubleth one strangely to look upon it."

" I will one day come with thee to hear Him,"
answered Lazarus. " Even but now did my
thoughts dwell sadly on the present state of govern-
ment. It seemeth to me that the old laws of Moses
are perverted sadly, and that the world groweth
strangely bad, as at the time of Noah."

' Yea, worse ; for where were now the righteous
man to place within the Ark ? " asked Nicodemus.
' Yet we have kept the laws of Moses from our



LAZARUS. 5

childhood upwards," said Lazarus, unable still to
break away from the teachings of his youth.

Nicodemus was silent for a few moments. Then
he began again, with the air of a man who wishes,
while persuading others, to persuade himself: " Yet,
Lazarus, it seemeth to me that within the heart there
is yet a deeper philosophy of right than the law of
Moses teacheth. There is ever an inward burning
longing for rest and peace and happiness, as if
somewhere the soul could rest eternally."

" So will it be in the resurrection," answered
Lazarus.

" Yet that is far off," said Nicodemus. " Me-
thinks that, even in this life, there might be an in-
ward peace with hope, such as this Nazarene doth
speak of." Then he stood still, and, gazing down
the valley, waved his hand toward the dark outline
of Jerusalem. " Mindest thou the words of the
prophet, Lazarus ? ' Woe to Ariel, to Ariel, the
city where David dwelt ! The Lord hath poured out
upon you the spirit of sleep, and hath closed your
eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers, hath
He covered. And the vision of all is become unto
you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men
deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I
pray thee : and he saith, I cannot ; for it is sealed :
and the book is delivered to him that is not learned,
saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am
not learned ! ' What thinkest thou, Lazarus ? Is
not Jerusalem even so ? Are we not all in heaviness
and asleep ? Rulers and poor alike ? Yet I feel that
in us everything is possible. Think of the great
strength of a man the great understanding, the great



6 LAZARUS.

wisdom of men such as Solomon and David. How
the heart doth leap with joy, and then doth faint
with grief ! To what end is all this ? For death
alone ? Nay, I cannot think so, Lazarus.

" The Romans say a man's life is given him but
to teach him how to die," said Lazarus. ' Think,
too, Nicodemus, how powerless a thing is man when
death approacheth ; he is no more than the grass of
the field, green to-day, faded to-morrow. What,
then, of all his heart-beatings ? ' '

" Aye, truly death, death of this fleshly body;
but there is another life within. I know it, I feel it,
Lazarus."

Nicodemus seemed carried away by his own argu-
ment, as though he had himself been preaching and
were fired by his own reasoning. ' Mindest thou
not the words of Job ? ' The Spirit of God hath
made me and the breath of the Almighty hath given
me life.' Surely the breath of God can never die,
but will return to Him laden with the praise and wor-
ship of them that love Him."

More moved than he would have it to appear, for
he was not a demonstrative man, Lazarus walked on
in silence till they reached the gates of his house at
Bethany. Here they were met by the ever anxious
Martha, who feared some accident to her beloved
brother.

' What fearest thou ever ? " said Lazarus, smiling
at her anxiety.

' I know not ; but the night is dark, and ever since
Barabbas did waylay the Pharisee, I fear me for thee
on the lonely road, lest maybe some robber, such as
he, should fall upon thee and take thy jewels."



LAZARUS. 7

" Surely 't were better far to be the sister of some
poor man," said Nicodemus, smiling, " than to be
so troubled."

Then, when they entered the house, Mary ad-
vanced to meet them.

" We heard a wondrous story to-day from Cana,"
she said to the two men. " We cannot credit it,
but our kinsman, Nathaniel of Arimathaea, the
cousin of Joseph the Counsellor, doth write how
that they were all at the wedding of a friend, and
Mary was there with her amazing son, this strange
Man of whom all speak; and, when they entered,
Mary did say to the servants, ' Whatever He saith
unto ye, do it. ' And there were set there six water-
pots of stone, containing water; and this Jesus said
unto them, ' Fill the waterpots with water ' ; and
they rilled them to the brim ; then He said unto them
again, ' Draw out now and bear unto the governor
of the feast. ' And when they did so, behold it was
all wine, and of such choice flavour as Nathaniel
saith he never before did taste, for he too was there ;
and all were full of wonder at this thing, which they
do term a miracle. What think ye, noble rulers,
can this thing be true ? "

But the two men, full of new, strange thoughts,
half formed and wholly inexpressible, looked at each
other in surprise, and Nicodemus answered: " If 't
is true, 't is surely a God who hath come among us."

And, all that evening, they talked much of the
Nazarene, and of the strange acts of Annas, and of
the new High Priest Caiaphas.



CHAPTER II.

THE Jewish Passover was at hand, and the
Nazarene was in Jerusalem.

A few evenings after His arrival, Nicodemus, full
of excitement, sought out Lazarus once more.

" Hast thou heard the strange news, Lazarus ? "

" Nay, I was weary and went not into Jerusalem
this morn," replied his friend.

" Surely the thing was strange indeed that hap-
pened. This Nazarene, who, since His arrival, doth
seem to drive mad all Jerusalem, did make a scourge
of cords, and chased from the Temple all those that
sold oxen and sheep and doves, and poured out the
changers' money and overthrew the tables; and His
face, they say, did glow with wrath that kindled as
if with fire; yet none withstood Him, and none
durst speak. Thou wouldst have laughed, Lazarus,
to see the frightened little usurers, sprawling on the
floor to grasp the coins that fell hither and thither,
and how they quarrelled when one took the other's
money, or several darted at the same coin. Oh, their
oaths were awful to hear; yet, for all, they durst not
stay, so mightily He scourged them. ' Take these
hence, take these things hence,' He cried. ' Make
not My Father's house an house of merchandise.'
Then He said again: ' It is written, My house shall
be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it

8



LAZARUS. 9

a den of thieves.' And mindest thou, Lazarus, how
the prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah do so say ? "

Like one awaking from a dream, Lazarus gazed at
Nicodemus. " Surely I mind it, Nicodemus; 'tis
truly a wonderful thing. And what said the people ? ' '

" The children cried out: 'Hosanna to the Son of
David ' ; and some even say the elders raised their
voices saying: ' Verily He is the Son of God ! ' But
the chief priests and scribes who were in the Temple
were very wroth, and they came round this Jesus
and protested : ' Hearest Thou what these say ?
They call Thee Christ and Lord and the Son of God,
and Thou contradictest them not ? Verily Thou
blasphemest by Thy silence.' But He looked with
wondrous mien upon them and answered only:
' Have ye never read, " Out of the mouth of babes
and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise" ?'
Which, if thou callest to memory, is so written in
the Psalms ; for the marvel of this Man is that He
speaketh never a word but that which is written al-
ready in the Scriptures. And while they would have
answered Him, yet could not, and sought for words
to say, there came round Him such crowds of lame
and blind and sick, that surely there was no room any
longer for priest or scribe ; and when he healed one
after the other, and they left the Temple whole and
with sight restored, the dumb singing aloud in praise
to God, the priests did fly forth from the Temple
with fear and fury, and hasted to tell Caiaphas the
marvels they had seen and heard. And they say
that Caiaphas is so wroth that he can neither eat nor
drink ; nor can he write, but sendeth message after
message to Pilate to give order that they lay hands



IO LAZARUS.

on Jesus; but Pilate, it seemeth, doth but laugh and
say: 'Let this madman alone. He doeth no harm,
but rather good, seeing that ye high priests can
neither give eyes to the blind nor make the lame
to walk.' "

Softly as they spoke, Mary came across the springy
grass, and stood close listening; then, when Nico-
demus had finished speaking, she exclaimed with
fervour: " 'T is indeed the Messiah who hath come.
Nathaniel wrote truly of the miracle in Cana. It is
the Lord."

" How knowest thou, sister ? " answered Lazarus,
amazed at the earnestness of her words, which yet
seemed an echo of his own thoughts.

" An inward voice doth speak to me day and
night, day and night, saying: ' This is the Lord,
hear Him, hear Him ' ; and when I look upon His
face in the Temple, and then around on this vast
crowd, methinks that only He who made the flowers
and birds and sunshine could have made a man
so fair, for His look is like a sunbeam lying over
a peaceful lake; and the thought within me doth
grow and grow and grow; and, with the Magda-
lene, I have read and re-read the Scriptures, and
every word doth testify how this Christ would
come ; and it grieveth me now that ever we spoke
slightingly of His mother, or could dream it possi-
ble that she had sinned, for the prophet Isaiah saith :
' Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign,
Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.'
Had I but minded me of these words, I had first cut
out my tongue ere I had breathed a word against her
purity."



LAZARUS. 1 1

" Surely thou speakest strangely," answered Laz-
arus, " and we must beware of blasphemy. I, too,
would see this Man, yet I fear me greatly ; for, if He
have such power, maybe I, too, would think Him the
Son of God and fall in worship at His feet ; and then
if 't were not after all the Messiah that shall come ? "

" If thou wouldst but see Him," urged Mary,
" thou couldst ask Him, and thou wouldst not
doubt."

Then Martha's voice was heard calling them to
the evening meal, which, in the ardour of their con-
versation, they had forgotten. Darkness was falling
quickly; only over Jerusalem still hung a lurid glow,
that made the houses stand out vividly against the
background of the darkening trees, and lighted up
with steely gleamings the rivulet of Kedron, that lay
like some great serpent waiting to seize upon the
heart of Jerusalem. Then, suddenly, a distant
sound of voices rose.

" Hosanna, Hosanna! " cried children's voices
on the stilly air, and they seemed to pierce the dark-
ness and fall like notes of holy music into the hearts
of the little group.

" Martha," said Nicodemus, leaning over the low
wall of the terrace, " hearest thou how they salute
the Nazarene ? "

Then Lazarus, too, stood up and listened, and, as
the cry came nearer, something strange and hard
seemed giving way within his heart. He saw, as in
a vision, earth and sea and sky all rolled away, and
crowds falling to the ground in worship and fear and
adoration ; and a great, white light that paled the
glory of the sun ; and notes, in power and harmony



12 LAZARUS.

undreamt of, gave forth, in unearthly cadence of
swelling triumph, the news that the Messiah had
come indeed, that the kingdom of God was close at
hand.

In that one moment, while the voices drew ever
nearer, grew ever louder, and, in the darkness, a still
darker line of approaching crowds of men was
streaked, Lazarus seemed able to measure his own
stature, and to grasp its nothingness against the
boundless stretches of creation. One man among so
many, one tiny atom at the feet of mountains!

And, as the vision faded, the centre piece of its
glory approached along the road. Only a strange
luminous whiteness, not to be accounted for by dy-
ing sun or rising moon, showed that this Man was
not as other men.

" 'T is the Lord, let us go forth to meet Him,"
murmured Mary, with nervous awe and adoration in
her tone; and, regardless of Martha's voice, rising
querulous now from the house door, regardless of
the opinion of the Jewish world, regardless of all in-
ward doubt; as if compelled by some magnetic,
supernatural power, the three sallied forth from the
gate and, meeting the Christ when He reached the
summit of the hill, fell down in worship at His feet.
While Lazarus, hardly knowing what he did or said,
mindful only that he stood in a majestic presence,
from which to win one look he would barter life and
power and all his worldly possessions, exclaimed
with mingled Jewish courtesy and human awe :

4 Enter in, O Lord, enter in; all I have I offer
Thee, for all is Thine."

And the great look fell, with love and gratitude
and endless blessing, on the head of Lazarus.



CHAPTER III.

IT had been a bold stroke on his part this bringing
the Nazarene straight into the house ; for Mar-
tha's was a ruling, decided spirit, and she had set her
face against offering hospitality to this Man, inter-
ested though she was in all that she had heard of
Him. There was danger in being in His company.
Already the Jews had sought to stone Him, and His
presence in their house might mean their own death,
or at least suspicion of complicity in His condemna-
tion of the ruling powers, and thus cast a slur upon
their house forever. Yet, when the Man of Sorrows
stood by the gate, when those eyes, overflowing with
grief at the sins of nations, fell upon her, she felt
herself reduced to nothingness; even the inmost
thought of cowardice and treachery seemed revealed,
and the consciousness was born in her that she was,
if not in the presence of God Himself, in that, in-
deed, of one of His most powerful prophets.

Pale and doubting and hesitating at His reception,
Jesus stood at the gate, wondering how He would
be received; as He has stood at the gate of each
human heart, pleading piteously for hospitality, for
entrance into the affections, for rest in the souls of
men; yet pleading, so often, alas! in vain. There
was something so pathetic in His glory and in His
silent waiting for admission, that Martha felt over-
is



14 LAZARUS.

whelmed. Supposing, after all, that this were indeed
the God ; how terrible every moment that was not
pressed into His service ; how unforgivable the sin
of hesitation; yet how impossible to receive Him as
befitted Him! Bewildered and flustered, she made
obeisance to Him, then led the way to the inner
hall. It was of tesselated marble, roofed overhead,
its walls pierced all round with apertures, that let in
light and air. A side door, supported by columns
of porphyry, and opening on stairs of Shittim wood,
gave access to the garden ; for Lazarus was wealthy,
and Simon his father, when he had fallen ill with
leprosy, had given up to his children almost all that
he possessed. The lovely house in Bethany and all
his gold and silver and jewels were theirs, and they
gloried in them.

As those holy feet stepped noiselessly across the
chamber, Martha now was convinced that it was no
ordinary man who had entered their dwelling. All
the beautiful things she and Lazarus had amassed or
inherited seemed shadowy and unreal in the presence
of the lowly carpenter. Yet, for all that, she could
not sever her mind from the conventional hospitali-
ties of life. She hurried away, while Mary came
and cast herself at Jesus' feet, and, far away in inner
halls and passages, she could be heard summoning
her maidens to bring forth their best, to set before
the Lord. But Lazarus and Mary remained by His
side, realising how precious was every moment in
which their Christ was with them; conscious that
He, who could command that the stones be made
bread, required no serving, no preparations; only
the worship and living passion of adoring hearts.



LAZARUS. 15

Presently, Martha, wearied with the task of gather-
ing her maidens together and of hastily preparing
what seemed fitting for such a guest, returned ; and,
finding Mary sitting in silent worship at His feet,
cried almost querulously: " Lord, dost Thou not
care that my sister hath left me to serve alone ? bid
her therefore that she help me."

Oh, how the sensitive Mary winced at her sister's
words; to speak thus to Jesus, the Christ ! How all
Martha's want of spirituality, of enthusiasm, of re-
ligious fire, echoed in those words ! The world, the
world and its silly self-imposed routine, its futile,
paltry laws built up by the narrow brains of men to
appease their limited demands; the self-seeking
satisfactions required by man, who deems himself
the ruler of this world, whose little span of life seems
to himself a nation's. To those who believed, as
Lazarus and Mary now did, what mattered wine
or garment or surroundings ? One thing only was
needful, the Bread of Life such as fell from the lips
of Jesus; and to Jesus, what must Martha's words
have seemed ? To Him, to whom worlds and time
and space and life and death were as nothing to the
" I am " of Eternity!

How must her words have sounded to such an
One ? Yet the Christ, in His deep sympathy,
pitied the fretfulness her cry disclosed. This wo-
man's eyes were not yet opened. How then could
she fathom the depth and length and breadth the
majesty of the personality that stood before her ?
But He saw in all its fulness what we fail to see, the
weary anxiety of the woman, the doubting of His
justice, if He could see one woman toil thus while



1 6 LAZARUS.

another idled. With gentleness and love He an-
swered : " Thou art careful and troubled about many
things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath
chosen that good part, which shall not be taken
away from her."

And Mary, in adoring wonder, kissed His feet once
more and murmured: " One thing have I desired of
the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in
the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to be-
hold the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in His
Temple. Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of
Truth."



CHAPTER IV.

r I^HE light came in in streaks through the cur-
I tained windows of the highest, most gorgeous
apartment in the house of Caiaphas, lighting up the
costly silks which hung above the couches, and the
amber-coloured robe of his handsome daughter, the
dark-eyed Rebekah. After the Magdalene, with
whom, of course, she was never mentioned in the
same breath, she was the loveliest woman in Judaea.
The Jewish nose had halted midway down the face
in Grecian fashion, and the olive skin, protected
from almost every ray of sun, had grown of an
opaque creamy whiteness, faintly stained as though


1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Online LibraryGeorgiana (Wolff) KingscoteLazarus; a tale of the world's great miracle → online text (page 1 of 23)