Thought for 5th Sunday of Lent (April 2, 2017)
JOHN 11:3-7, 17, 20-27, 33B-45
The sisters of Lazarus sent word to Jesus, saying,
“Master, the one you love is ill.”
When Jesus heard this he said,
“This illness is not to end in death,
but is for the glory of God,
that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
So when he heard that he was ill,
he remained for two days in the place where he was.
Then after this he said to his disciples,
“Let us go back to Judea.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus
had already been in the tomb for four days.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”
He became perturbed and deeply troubled, and said,
“Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Sir, come and see.”
And Jesus wept.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him.”
But some of them said,
“Could not the one who opened the eyes of the blind man
have done something so that this man would not have died?”
So Jesus, perturbed again, came to the tomb.
It was a cave, and a stone lay across it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”
Martha, the dead man’s sister, said to him,
“Lord, by now there will be a stench;
he has been dead for four days.”
Jesus said to her,
“Did I not tell you that if you believe
you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone.
And Jesus raised his eyes and said,
“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
He cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to them,
“Untie him and let him go.”
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
and seen what he had done began to believe in him.
There are so many details to this story of the raising of Lazarus, but I will focus on a few. It always struck me that Jesus waited a couple of days to be with his friend who was ill. We sometimes wonder what God is doing when we are ill or having problems. It seems that He leaves us in our problems for a time. In this story, Jesus has a plan to show the glory of God through the resurrection of Lazarus. It may be difficult to trust the timing of God, but His will is always best.
The second thing that strikes me is Jesus’s reaction to the death of Lazarus. He is moved in the depth of His soul. The death of Lazarus is symbolic of our spiritual death. He was in the tomb for four days and the stench was terrible. Sin separates us from God and it hurts Him to the point of crying. Our sin smells terribly and separates us from God and the community. However, Jesus wants to work the same miracle in us that He did with Lazarus. He wants to raise us from our sins through His forgiveness. He calls us out by name, “_________, come out!”
Finally, nothing is impossible with God. Sometimes we think that we have sinned so terribly that God cannot forgive us. However, we see in this story that Jesus hates anything that separates us from Him and He is willing to go the depths and stench of our sin to rescue us.
Think about this the next time you are tempted to sin. Think about how it is going to lead you to the tomb with a big stone rolled in front of it. Think about Jesus crying outside the tomb. He tells us that sin is not what we were made for. We were made to live in His grace and to have life abundantly. We were made to stay out of the tomb. Don’t give in to sin. If you have fallen, know that the Lord seeks you with His infinite love and mercy.
Have I experienced separating myself from God through my sin?
Have I ever felt my sins were unforgivable?
Have I experienced Jesus calling me out of the stench of my sin to live in His grace?
Have a blessed day!