Saturday 25 March 2023

Lent 5 2023 John 11:1-45,

Song “I’m leaning on you”


The wilderness and the dry lands shall blossom

The wasteland will be cultivated

It will bring forth flowers like a rose.

The desert will flood with water

The scorched earth will become as a lake

And the parched land, spring with water.


Reflection on John 11v17-44


Johns gospel is built around the "I ams" and "signs and wonders".  His teaching along with the miracles in the gospel, show that he is Jesus the bread of life, the water of life, the light of life. In chapter 11, John demonstrates that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. 


Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, has fallen ill and Jesus was asked to go to Bethany to help him. Strangely Jesus waits two days until Lazarus has died before setting off for Bethany to heal him. There is a right time to do things, say things, despite our impatience, a kairos moment. When he arrived at Bethany he was met by a family in mourning, so Jesus met with the two sisters Mary and Martha before he went to Lazarus's tomb.


The name Lazarus in the Greek form of the Hebrew, Eleazar means "God helps." John identifies Mary as "this" Mary, the woman who anointed Jesus in the house of Simon the Leper, (Mk.14:3-9), with her hair. Jesus was convinced that Lazarus sickness was not terminal. He wasn’t going to die. Lazarus had fallen asleep, a euphemism we still use for death. He will get better. 


Lazarus has been buried for four days. The four days emphasizes that Lazarus is really dead as the Jews of the time thought that the soul remained with the body for three days after death.


Bethany was about two miles from Jerusalem, which explains why so many other people were also at the scene, friends, Jewish officials, relatives, neighbours, friends, and people who had come from the city. The details add to the authenticity. 


When Martha heard Jesus had come, she went out to meet him and Mary stayed at home, mourning. Martha regrets that Jesus had not come before and her brother has died because she believed Jesus could have healed him. Jesus went into the village where he saw Mary weeping/wailing and it distressed him so much he also started to cry. So he asked where they had buried Lazarus? People standing around started grumbling, (Jesus always has grumblers in the crowd). They said, "He gives sight to the blind. Why couldn't he have kept Lazarus from dying?"


The tomb was a cave, possibly a deep, vertical hole. There was a stone rolled over the entrance to keep animals away from the body. Jesus commanded them to take away the stone. They warned him that there was a smell because the Jews did not mummify the dead, which was lucky for Lazarus, for if he had been mummified, they would have thrown away some of the organs, like the brain. The usual anointing of the body would not cover the smell of decomposition. Lazarus was certainly dead. 


Jesus looked up, praised God and called out in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man walked out, wrapped in grave cloths, the clothes which would normally be round his head.


Some of the Jews who had seen what happened immediately believed in him... but some of them went to the Pharisees and Jewish authorities and told them what he had done-namely raised someone from the dead!


The pivot of the story is around Jesus compassion for Lazarus. He feels for Mary and Martha and he grieves for Lazarus. Jesus is displaying his humanity here. 


At the end of this chapter in verse 47 and 57, we are told that Jesus actions in healing a dead man precipitate his death. Jesus is challenging the old order. The only other time we witness his grief is over Jerusalem. He knew Lazarus was not dead but he knew prophetically that Jerusalem had crossed a line (Luke 19v41). 

We must be wise and feel with those who suffer, because in feeling, empathizing, grieving we will be healed. 


We follow a man who brought people back to life after they had been dead for four days! That is something that makes me very excited!


Song  “Santo, Santo”


This is the day that God has made 

We will rejoice and be glad in it

We will not offer to God

Offerings that cost us nothing

Go in love and peace

We will seek peace and pursue it. 




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