Ezekiel 37:12-14; Ps 130 With the Lord there is mercy and fullness of redemption; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45
Today we encounter the story of Lazarus. This is the longest continuous story in the gospel of John. It is also the story that contains the shortest verse in the bible, "Jesus Wept."
The story is packed full of meaning. Every phrase and every word in every sentence is intentional. John is meticulous in detail. Nothing is out of place, nothing is extra, all is where it should be. With John's gospel, there is always more than meets the eye. There is the literal meaning but also woven beneath is a much deeper spiritual revelation.
Reading requires attentive listening to what the text is both saying explicitly and implicitly.
For instance, john writes is gospel so that anyone and everyone can be part of the tale. JEsus comes in history and acts in time in a particular place with particular people, like Mary and Martha and Lazarus. At the same time, JEsus continues act in our history in our time and place. John wants us to be able to relate, to be part of the story.
This is why, there is the unnamed "beloved disciple." The "beloved disciple" is suppose to be not only John himself but also each and every one of us.
The story of Lazarus is about lazarus but at the same it can be about our family, our experience, our relationship with Christ. These are friends of Christ. They have a history, they have experiences. They know and love Jesus and Jesus knows and loves them.
In fact Jesus would eat with them and spend time with them. In some sense, Bethany was is home away from home. John tries to get us to understand this reality with the words he uses to describe the "one that He loves" as a description of Lazarus the one who is ill.
Pause for a moment. How many times do we see Jesus reaching out to strangers in their time of need promptly and quickly.
People he meets for the first time he cures instantly, no questions asked. Immediate and complete.
Yet here when his friends need him most, he delays. He waits. 2 days pass before he reacts.
This is strange.
Usually love demands an immediate response. Usually love demands the immediate good. Is this not what we desire and what we want. Is this not what we have been trained to expect?
A few weeks back when my nephew was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was in need of surgery, I immediately got coverage for the masses and within a day I was on a plane to North Carolina. In fact within 24 hours I was sitting in the hospital at his bedside.
This is what we do for loved ones and ones we love. We do not delay we act. We even speak this way when we say, "if you love me then you would..." fill in the blank.
Yet Jesus waits.................
This gives us moment to pause. Why did he delay? How often in the gospel we Jesus act promptly, immediately? How often we see Jesus meet strangers and he does instant miracles for them?
Yet, here with those who love him and those he loves, he waits.
This delay boggles the mind. How often we experience this is our life. How often we experience God's delay, God's silence. We do not like this. we do not like God delaying, we want promptness. We want what want when we want it and yet God waits.
So what is JEsus teaching us.
He is teaching us and important lesson we do not want to learn.
Love does makes demand. But it does not have the right to demand an inmediate response based on what we percieve to be the immediate good or what we percive to be our greatest need.
The only right love has to demand is the highest good. The immediate good we percive is always trumphed by the highest good we don't always percieve.
Here in lies the lesson.
This is why Jesus says this death of Lazarus will serve the glory of God.
There is the highest good that trumphs all other perceptions of good.
This is where love finds its fulfillment; this is where love is purified: God's glory.
Think about Jesus a moment. How much love must he have , knowing that his delay is going to cause Mary and martha were going to have to enter into that grief and suffering we are never truly ready for, the sudden death of a loved one.
How much love must the heart contained to be willing to allow loved ones to enter into suffering so that the glory of God might be made known?
After his delay Jesus finally arrives and we hear those question that often fill our hearts and minds:"Lord, if you would have been here, my brother would not have died." Lord, if yo would have been here this tragedy would not have happened.
Or the other question, "coud not this man who made the blind see have done something to prevent this death."
These are the questions we ask often. If you noice Jesus doesn't discount the questions, nor does he say not to ask. But rather, the question Jesus welcomes and enters into a dialogue of deepen one's faith.
Even our questions can be faith filled and lead to a deepening of our understanding of God's actions and thus increase our trust.
Questions are okay; questions are necessary; question invite faith to grow.
In the questios asked we hear those words, "I am the resurrection and the life; if you believe even though you die will will live."
Then after the dialogue we encounter the shortest verse in the bible. "Jesus wept."
God weeps. Where does God weep. He weeps when men weep.
God enters into our humanity fully. He is not immune to sorrw and suffering. He understands. This is part of the goodnews.
Then Jesus says those words, "Lazarus come out."
The Word that becomes flesh is the word that is stronger then death. Death is no match.
When Lazarus comes out, I assure you no one saw that coming. Everyone was surprised.
Here is the glory of God at work. John in his gospel tells us a few chapters before that Jesus is sent to "amaze us."
God wants to amaze us; God wants to shake us out of ourselves; God wants to surprise us. But in order to recieve this sometimes we must endure suffering, pain, death.
The glory of God is always at work; the glory of God always has more in store.
Jesus reminds us that our life must be about the glory of God if it is truly going to matter most of all.
One thing to notice is that when Jesus calls Lazarus our from death, he does not do it alone.
He need people to roll back to stone. He also need people to untie his hands and feet and remove the burial cloth from his face.
In order for the glory of God to realize, God invites us to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty. We must be involved in bringing about the amazement of God.
this is what the lives of the of saints reveal to us. The likes of John Paul II and Mother Teresa show us. They were unafraid to roll up their sleaves and give the glory of God the opportuntiy to shine through into our lives.
Jesus is primary but the work too belongs to us.
The glory of God is the standard of love. This is why we do what we Even though we encounter God's delay we must remember even in God's delay, hope remains and Glory is to be found.