The Bible Jumpers arrive in the town of Bethany and learn that a man named Lazarus had passed away. They go to meet his sisters Mary and Martha to pay their respects.
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“This way please,” said the guide as he navigated the Bible Jumpers through the crowd of mourners and into Lazarus’s home.
“Is everyone in this house?!” exclaimed John.
“Stay close,” said the guide as he excused his way through the sea of black that was in the hallway of the home.
Finally, the Bible Jumpers were led to the living area of the house. The room had enough space to fit comfortably at least twenty people. In the center of the room was a large rug that had in the middle of it three large wooden plates full of untouched food. Surrounding these plates were several long body pillows which people could use to lounge on. On two of those pillows sat two women that were dressed in black. Tears streamed down their cheeks as the cried bitterly.
Beside Mary and Martha were two men who held their hands.
“Those guys look like Pharisees,” said John.
“Are you sure?” asked Mary.
John nodded, “I recognize those peacocks anywhere.”
“Martha, you need not be sad,” said one of the Pharisees, “For Lazarus’s soul is safe in the hands of God.”
Martha wiped her eyes. “I know all this Zebulun,” she said, “Oh, if only Jesus was here, my brother wouldn’t have died.” She covered her face with her hands and cried loudly.
The guide cleared his throat, “Mary and Martha? Sorry to interrupt, but some strangers have come to pay their respects.”
The Bible Jumpers stepped forward from the mourners.
Martha’s sister Mary wiped the tears from her eyes. “Have we met before?”
Daniel shook his head. “We were passing through Bethany on the way to Jerusalem. When we heard of your brother’s death, we wanted to express our sympathies.”
“How kind of you,” she said.
Martha looked at them carefully. Then she smiled weakly. “You must be tired from your journey. Please sit down.”
One by one, the Bible Jumpers sat in a semi-circle on the rug facing the two women.
“Please help yourself,” said Martha’s sister motioning to the plates of food.
Liz shook her head. “We are fine, thank you.”
“We are truly sorry for your loss,” said Simon solemnly.
“Your brother must have been an amazing man,” said Carrie.
“Yes, he was,” said Lazarus’s sister Mary, “He was the kindest man that ever walked this earth. Everyone loved him.”
Martha looked around the room, “I must apologize for the mess. Normally, our home is much cleaner than this when we have guests.”
“Martha, you need to stop worrying about what others think,” said her sister.
“I can’t help it Mary,” said Martha, “Remember what our brother always said, ‘Always be prepared to welcome strangers.’”
“It’s okay,” said Daniel, “We are perfectly fine.”
“Besides,” said Mary, “You two are ones who need comfort.”
“Martha, you are doing it again,” said her sister, “Remember what the teacher taught us?”
Martha groaned, “Yes…I do.”
“The teacher?” asked Zach.
“Jesus of Nazareth,” said Martha, “Surely you’ve heard of him?”
“Yes of course,” said Zach, “What was it that Jesus taught you?”
“Why don’t you tell them Martha,” said Lazarus’s sister.
“You tell it better than I do,” said Martha glumly.
“Okay,” said Mary, “During one of his visits to Bethany, Jesus came into our home to have dinner and to teach us the word of God. I was listening intently to His teachings, clinging to his every word.”
“Where were you Martha?” asked John.
“I was busy preparing everything,” said Martha, “I was getting the food ready and straightening up everything in the house.”
“Do you remember how angry you were with me?” asked her sister.
“Yes, I remember very well,” said Martha, “I was so angry at you that I complained to Jesus about you not helping and I demanded him to command you to help me.”
“Wait a minute,” said John, “You demanded Jesus to do something!?”
“What did he say?” asked Liz.
“He said to me, ‘Martha, Martha, you are so worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,’” said Martha, “His words stung me, but I knew they were true.”
“What did you do after he said that?” asked Mary.
“I stopped what I was doing, sat at the teacher’s feet, and listened to him too,” said Martha.
“Sounds like you knew Jesus very well,” said Simon.
“Jesus was very close to Lazarus and his two sisters,” said the Pharisee Zebulun.
“You know what puzzles me,” said the other Pharisee, “That even when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he didn’t come.”
“I was thinking the same thing Issachar,” said Zebulun.
“I mean, if it were me, I would have dropped everything and came as soon as possible,” said Issachar.
“Perhaps, he was too busy for someone that he loved,” said Zebulun.
“Please Zebulun and Issachar,” said Martha, “Do not judge Jesus for not coming.”
“Yes,” said her sister Mary, “I’m sure he had his reasons for not coming…I just… don’t understand… what would be more important than coming to heal our brother.” She began to sob.
Zebulun looked at Issachar. “I think we made things only worse.”
Issachar nodded, “Let’s leave them in peace.” Both men got up and went to the far corner of the living area and talked to each other.
“Some comforters they turned out to be,” said John.
“It’s very hard to comfort those who’ve lost a loved one,” said Mary.
John looked toward Simon. “I know what you mean.”
“Huh?” asked Mary.
“I’ll tell you later,” said John.
A large murmur came from the mourners. “Please…let me through!” exclaimed a man who was navigating through the crowd. “Please…excuse me!” Finally, the man entered the living area. The man bent down and put his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath. After a few breaths, he straightened up.
The eyes of the Bible Jumpers widened. “Andrew!” exclaimed Simon.