Tag Archives: John 11:1-45

He Wasn’t Here

This week’s lectionary reading is incredibly poignant for the time we find ourselves in.

I suspect this post rambles a round a bit, but I offer it dredged from the bottom of my brain-fogged head.  Feel free to engage with me as we work out our theology for these times together.

 

Rembrandt van Rijn - The Meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary after the Death of Lazarus - 1962.116 - Cleveland Museum of Art
Rembrandt van Rijn – The Meeting of Christ with Martha and Mary after the Death of Lazarus

Lazarus gets sick, his sisters ask Jesus to come to him. But he doesn’t – at least now when or how they think he should…

John 11:1-45  (GNT)

The Death of Lazarus

11 A man named Lazarus, who lived in Bethany, became sick. Bethany was the town where Mary and her sister Martha lived. (This Mary was the one who poured the perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair; it was her brother Lazarus who was sick.) The sisters sent Jesus a message: “Lord, your dear friend is sick.”

When Jesus heard it, he said, “The final result of this sickness will not be the death of Lazarus; this has happened in order to bring glory to God, and it will be the means by which the Son of God will receive glory.”

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he received the news that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days. Then he said to the disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

“Teacher,” the disciples answered, “just a short time ago the people there wanted to stone you; and are you planning to go back?”

Jesus said, “A day has twelve hours, doesn’t it? So those who walk in broad daylight do not stumble, for they see the light of this world. 10 But if they walk during the night they stumble, because they have no light.” 11 Jesus said this and then added, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I will go and wake him up.”

12 The disciples answered, “If he is asleep, Lord, he will get well.”

13 Jesus meant that Lazarus had died, but they thought he meant natural sleep. 14 So Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 but for your sake I am glad that I was not with him, so that you will believe. Let us go to him.”

16 Thomas (called the Twin) said to his fellow disciples, “Let us all go along with the Teacher, so that we may die with him!”

Jesus the Resurrection and the Life

17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been buried four days before. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Judeans had come to see Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother’s death.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “If you had been here, Lord, my brother would not have died! 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask him for.”

23 “Your brother will rise to life,” Jesus told her.

24 “I know,” she replied, “that he will rise to life on the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me will live, even though they die; 26 and those who live and believe in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord!” she answered. “I do believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

Jesus Weeps

28 After Martha said this, she went back and called her sister Mary privately. “The Teacher is here,” she told her, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up and hurried out to meet him. (30 Jesus had not yet arrived in the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.) 31 The people who were in the house with Mary comforting her followed her when they saw her get up and hurry out. They thought that she was going to the grave to weep there.

32 Mary arrived where Jesus was, and as soon as she saw him, she fell at his feet. “Lord,” she said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”

33 Jesus saw her weeping, and he saw how the people with her were weeping also; his heart was touched, and he was deeply moved. 34 “Where have you buried him?” he asked them.

“Come and see, Lord,” they answered.

35 Jesus wept. 36 “See how much he loved him!” the people said.

37 But some of them said, “He gave sight to the blind man, didn’t he? Could he not have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Lazarus Is Brought to Life

38 Deeply moved once more, Jesus went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone placed at the entrance. 39 “Take the stone away!” Jesus ordered.

Martha, the dead man’s sister, answered, “There will be a bad smell, Lord. He has been buried four days!”

40 Jesus said to her, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believed?” 41 They took the stone away. Jesus looked up and said, “I thank you, Father, that you listen to me. 42 I know that you always listen to me, but I say this for the sake of the people here, so that they will believe that you sent me.” 43 After he had said this, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 He came out, his hands and feet wrapped in grave cloths, and with a cloth around his face. “Untie him,” Jesus told them, “and let him go.”

The Plot against Jesus

45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw what Jesus did, and they believed in him.

Good News Translation (GNT)Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

 

Why doesn’t Jesus do what they want, what they think is right??

He wasn’t here,
he didn’t come.

Our brother was sick
and Jesus
did not
come to him.

He left him alone
to suffer
without
being with him.

How can he have done that?
Did he not care?

If he really loved us,
cared about him,
would he not have been here
holding us,
making everything ok,
saving him?

Where were you
when we needed you?

***

We know the theology,
that one day,
in eternity,
all will be well
and all will be healed.
But what about now?
What about our brother?

Jesus,
where are you?
are we not important to you?

They may have thought that Jesus didn’t care, didn’t understand or just couldn’t do anything about it. They were really angry with him – quite justifiably perhaps. But actually Jesus already knew what was happening – he was already on his way to them, fully aware of what the situation was.  He was coming to do the Right Thing – that might be different to what they desired.

When he was met with Mary and Martha Jesus stood among them and wept.  What a powerful image that is. Jesus stands among the pain, despair and feelings of desertion and weeps with them – and then does something.

Clearly physical resurrection is not going to be what happens for everyone – and how painful that can be, particularly at this time in our world history.  But he still stands there among the pain and anguish and weeps as we weep – I firmly believe that because I have known it in other devastating times.  Please do not think that is a glib phrase, easily trotted out.  It is my experience and my hope.

The other reading for this week is Ezekiel 37:1-14, the famous passage about the Valley of Dry Bones. To me, with my illness, the main part of which is dryness in every part of the body that produces fluid, this passage speaks very loudly. The bones were dry, beyond help or restoration, and yet new life and hope was promised.

The new life that we see will be very different.  I am acutely aware that there will be some loved ones missing from it. There will be devastation – and that is tragic and gut-wrenchingly painful. Few of us will be immune. I myself am in the highly vulnerable category.

But somehow, eventually, piece by new piece, we do find a new way to live with the pain and brokenness and ultimately to know hope again. The dry bones of life as we knew it will have breath again and there can be life anew.

These are painful times we are living through.  There are no easy answers, to try and give them would be very wrong.

But we can bring to God our emptiness, our pain, our fear, our anguish and whatever other emotion (or probably a whole roller coaster of them) we are feeling. The God of brokenness is with us.

(I wish this song was a bit slower – but we have what we have!)

 

 

 

This was shared on Facebook, which puts a different slant on this reading:

now (John 11)

Now,
it is no longer
an exegetical puzzle
to be solved in our study;
it is no longer a pericope (a passage from the bible)
with which to wrestle;
it is no longer a (really)
long reading to get through;
it is no longer a story
we blow the dust off every 3 years.
now,
it is our story;
now
it is about us;
now
it is us inside that
dank, dark tomb:
stinking of fear,
wrapped in the bands
of loneliness;
blinded by the handkerchief
of weary worry.
now,
we hope,
we pray,
we yearn,
we listen
for just a footstep,
just a tear dropping on the ground,
just a whisper of Jesus
pacing before the stone,
growling in his spirit
in anger and frustration,
before he cries out,
in hope and joy and life,
“come out!”

now,
we are not casual bystanders;

now
we are Lazarus

waiting . . .

(c) 2020 Thom M. Shuman

 

 

For now, may each of us know God’s blessing and peace,
may we know he stands with us
and weeps with us in our fear and despair
may we know his presence
and may his blessing be
with each one of us
those we care for,
those we are worrying about,
those who are ill,
and those we have lost,
today
and always

Amen

The Father Revealed i

John 11:1-45 (CEV)

The Death of Lazarus

11 1-2 A man by the name of Lazarus was sick in the village of Bethany. He had two sisters, Mary and Martha. This was the same Mary who later poured perfume on the Lord’s head and wiped his feet with her hair. The sisters sent a message to the Lord and told him that his good friend Lazarus was sick.

When Jesus heard this, he said, “His sickness won’t end in death. It will bring glory to God and his Son.”

Jesus loved Martha and her sister and brother. But he stayed where he was for two more days. Then he said to his disciples, “Now we will go back to Judea.”

“Teacher,” they said, “the people there want to stone you to death! Why do you want to go back?”

Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in each day? If you walk during the day, you will have light from the sun, and you won’t stumble. 10 But if you walk during the night, you will stumble, because you don’t have any light.” 11 Then he told them, “Our friend Lazarus is asleep, and I am going there to wake him up.”

12 They replied, “Lord, if he is asleep, he will get better.” 13 Jesus really meant that Lazarus was dead, but they thought he was talking only about sleep.

14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead! 15 I am glad that I wasn’t there, because now you will have a chance to put your faith in me. Let’s go to him.”

16 Thomas, whose nickname was “Twin,” said to the other disciples, “Come on. Let’s go, so we can die with him.”

He wasn’t here,
he didn’t come.
Our brother was sick
and Jesus
did not
come to him.

He left him alone
to suffer
without
being with him.
How can he have done that?
Did he not care?

If he really loved us,
cared about him,
would he not have been here
holding us,
making everything ok,
saving him?
Where were you
when we needed you?

Jesus Brings Lazarus to Life

17 When Jesus got to Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was only about two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many people had come from the city to comfort Martha and Mary because their brother had died.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus had arrived, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 Yet even now I know that God will do anything you ask.”

23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will live again!”

24 Martha answered, “I know that he will be raised to life on the last day, when all the dead are raised.”

25 Jesus then said, “I am the one who raises the dead to life! Everyone who has faith in me will live, even if they die. 26 And everyone who lives because of faith in me will never really die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord!” she replied. “I believe that you are Christ, the Son of God. You are the one we hoped would come into the world.”

28 After Martha said this, she went and privately said to her sister Mary, “The Teacher is here, and he wants to see you.” 29 As soon as Mary heard this, she got up and went out to Jesus. 30 He was still outside the village where Martha had gone to meet him. 31 Many people had come to comfort Mary, and when they saw her quickly leave the house, they thought she was going out to the tomb to cry. So they followed her.

32 Mary went to where Jesus was. Then as soon as she saw him, she knelt at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw that Mary and the people with her were crying, he was terribly upset 34 and asked, “Where have you put his body?”

They replied, “Lord, come and you will see.”

35 Jesus started crying, 36 and the people said, “See how much he loved Lazarus.”

37 Some of them said, “He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

38 Jesus was still terribly upset. So he went to the tomb, which was a cave with a stone rolled against the entrance. 39 Then he told the people to roll the stone away. But Martha said, “Lord, you know that Lazarus has been dead four days, and there will be a bad smell.”

40 Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you had faith, you would see the glory of God?”

41 After the stone had been rolled aside, Jesus looked up toward heaven and prayed, “Father, I thank you for answering my prayer. 42 I know that you always answer my prayers. But I said this, so that the people here would believe that you sent me.”

43 When Jesus had finished praying, he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The man who had been dead came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with strips of burial cloth, and a cloth covered his face.

Jesus then told the people, “Untie him and let him go.”

We know the theology,
that one day,
in eternity,
all will be well
and all will be healed.
But what about now?
What about our brother?
Jesus,
where are you?

And now you turn up.
What took you so long?
Where have you been?
You have let us down,
are we not important to you?

There is no hope now,
you have left it too long,
left him
until it is too late.

Let me see.
Let me be with him.
Nothing is beyond my reach,
my hope.
Even
where it seems there is no life,
there is life
in me,
through me.
See what God can do.
See his life,
his love,
his hope
– even where you thought there was none.

God is here.

Come
to me
and live
again.

The Plot To Kill Jesus

45 Many of the people who had come to visit Mary saw the things that Jesus did, and they put their faith in him.

Come Lord,
resurrect in me
that which seems hopeless,
without life,
beyond hope.
Touch my life,
restore new life
in me
I pray.

Jesus Raising Lazarus from the Dead

 

 

Going at your own pace

John 11:1-45

In which Lazarus falls ill.  His sisters send for Jesus, who stalls for two days, then sets off to see them.  In the meantime Lazarus has died.

Why if Jesus was going to do something miraculous didn’t he go and do it straight away?  Surely it wasn’t because he was worried about being stoned, or to put on a great show – after all a resurrection totally trumps a healing doesn’t it.  Was it just so Jesus could make a good point?

I can’t imagine so.  But Jesus works in his time and his way, not the bidding of his followers.

Martha is distraught, because she thinks that Jesus could have saved Lazarus.  But Jesus can reach beyond that.  Then Mary also tells Jesus that if he had been here “it would never have happened”.

How often do we cry that to God.  “If you’d only been here God this would never have happened.”

Why isn’t Jesus doing something?

Eventually they go to the tomb.  A tomb with a four-day corpse in it in the heat of the hills around Jerusalem!

And there is life…

And there is faith…

God is there.

Who knows what the reaction would have been if Jesus had got there sooner, before Lazarus had died.  What would people have seen and done then?  How would they have reacted?  Would they have seen all that God can do, or just a small part?

God can be so annoying when he goes at his own pace!  We can try to force his hand, but what do we miss?

Can we wait, and trust?

Let God be God

and do his stuff?

That from death and decay

he may bring life?

Come Lord,

may our time

be your time;

our will your will;

that we may see your glory

and new life