St. John 11:1-45
Prayer of the Day:
Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death. Breathe upon us the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in righteousness all our days, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
1:1 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.
7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
St. John 11:1-45, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Lazarus, Come Out!
Again this week we have before us a long, long narrative from St. John’s Gospel. It recounts the illness, death and resurrection of Lazarus, a man described by his sisters as “he whom you [Jesus] love.” Jesus had just recently been in Jerusalem for the Festival of the Dedication. He found himself again in conflict with the Jewish leaders, to the point that they attempted to stone him to death. (John 10:31) He escaped from their hands, though, and makes his way “across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier.” There he continues his ministry of teaching and preaching and healing.
Word comes to Jesus that his dear friend Lazarus has taken ill. No doubt Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, know of Jesus’ healing powers and hope he will put them to work to bring their brother back to full health. But surprisingly, Jesus remains where he is for two more days. Long enough, it appears, that Lazarus dies.
When he arrives in Bethany, Jesus is accused three times of failing to assist his dear friend: first by Martha who meets him outside the village and says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Then by Mary, who also finds him just outside of town and says the same thing. Finally, as Jesus wept, some of the faithful noted his grief and his love for Lazarus, but others said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” The implication is clear: if the Son of God, the Savior of the World, had been doing what the people expected him to do, this dear and faithful man would be alive.
This is understandable, of course. It makes sense to believe that if someone loves us (and has our best interests in mind), and has the power to make things better, then he or she would. Here at Saint Peter we have lost three dear friends to death in the past two weeks, and I honestly wouldn’t mind if Jesus showed up, yelled “Zoe, Ken, Steve: come out!” and brought all of them back to life — brought them back to us.
But of course this is not the hope to which the story of Lazarus calls us. There is not implicit in this story the promise that those who love Christ will never die. If that were the case Lazarus would still be among us, inspiring us with stories about his Lord. No: eventually Lazarus reached the end of his physical life, as did our three friends this past week, and as will each of us.
Instead, this resurrection points us to the resurrection that will be proclaimed at the end of John’s Gospel (see chapter 20); the resurrection that will be proclaimed by the Apostle Paul (see 1st Corinthians 15:51-57); the resurrection that will be proclaimed three time this week at Saint Peter (“If we have been united in a death like Christ’s, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”); the resurrection that has been promised to each of us.
We are still in the season of Lent. Easter has not yet arrived. But its promise is here. Lazarus reminds us of this. For which we give God thanks and praise.
David J. Risendal, Pastor
Exploring This Week’s Gospel:
- Why did Jesus delay in making his way to Bethany and Lazarus?
- Were Mary, Martha and their friends right to be unhappy with Jesus?
- Having seen Lazarus raised, what might the people have believed in verse 45?
Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:
- When have I cried out to God for new life?
- What does it mean to be united with Christ in “a resurrection like his?”
- How does the promise of resurrection influence the way I live my life?