29 March 2020 – St. John 11;1-45
Today the Revised Common Lectionary has a long reading from the Gospel of John. It’s that wonderful tale about the raising of Lazarus. He was a friend of Jesus. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. Their home was in Bethany and provided an hospitable haven for Jesus throughout his ministry.
When Jesus arrives at Bethany, the sisters are true to form. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she ran out to meet him and was well rewarded with a promise fully articulated in the Resurrection. ‘I am the resurrection and the Life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.’ But Mary sat still in the house.
Two things about Jesus. Firstly, he did not go to visit the sisters as soon as he heard that Lazarus was ill. He stayed where he was for another two days. ‘Lord, if you had been here my brother would not have died.’ says Martha alluding to his delay. Sometimes our actions at the time of illness and death can be misconstrued. Like Jesus, we must be true to ourselves. Everyone grieves differently.
Secondly, the focus of the tale is rightly placed on the miracle of resurrection. But as well as seeing an intimation of his divinity, we also see a very revealing intimation of Christ’s humanity. Right at the heart of this gospel is the shortest verse in the BIble, ‘Jesus wept.’ It is very moving to see in one who had the power to raise Lazarus from the dead, an emotional sharing in the grief of his friends.
Of course, Lazarus, having been raised from the dead, did not live forever. He died a second time. His resurrection is a sign of the Kingdom where the blind see, the lame walk and the dead are raised to new life. It is a foretaste of what is to come on Easter Day and in eternity.
As we continue our journey, we scan the landscape for these signs of eternity. Like Jesus, we are on the road. We hear the good and the bad and we respond to each as best we can. Others may judge our responses unfairly but they do not stand in our shoes. We do our best. Nothing more, nothing less assured that in eternity ‘all will be well, all manner of things will be well’.