Archive for July 3rd, 2018

John 11Thoughts on the Raising of Lazarus

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

When we come across the story of the raising of Lazarus we may be tempted to skim through it or even skip over it altogether; we are thinking that we have heard this one before and yes, we have.  But if we set aside a quiet time and a quiet place to read this account of an event that took place two millennia ago . . . and when we pause to mediate on the meaning of the words beyond the story . . . we feel Christ’s presence through the questions that spring up from the pages.  And we are given new gifts of wisdom.  Here is one such gift I received this afternoon . . . you may want to offer up your own.

Verse 16: So Thomas, called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, “let us also go to die with him”.  Thomas knows that if Jesus and his followers return to Judea – they have heard the news of Lazarus’ death – they may very likely be stoned, we understand, because earlier the disciples caution Jesus saying: Rabbi, the Jews were just trying to stone you, and you want to go back there?”  Thomas is usually remembered in John 20 as the doubter, the one who refuses to believe that Jesus has returned from the dead until he has seen the crucifixion nail marks and has put his own hand in the wound in Jesus’ side.   Perhaps John uses Thomas in this way to give us the opportunity to examine our own belief in the risen Christ.  Do we demand signs or do we willingly follow . . . even when danger is imminent?  Jesus has told us about the many ways in which he appears to us.  Do we willingly follow with enthusiasm as Thomas hopes to do?  Maybe we willingly respond as Thomas does when we realize that we have doubted Christ himself . . . My Lord and my God!   Today we have the opportunity to think about our readiness to respond as Thomas does when we encounter Christ in any form.  We are perhaps uncomfortable approaching the poor, the stranger, the needy and the imprisoned yet Jesus lives in them as he lives in us.  He is not only present in those who look like us and behave as we do . . . but in diverse others as well.  This gives us something to think about today . . . and it is an opportunity to draw nearer to Jesus.

There are other small places that call us to examine our way of perceiving Christ in others.  We may want to explore the verses that describe Jesus’ encounter with Martha and Mary.  Why does Martha tell Mary secretly that Jesus has arrived?  Why does the writer describe Jesus as perturbedWhat causes Jesus to cry?  And what do we discover about ourselves when we read verse 48?  When we arrive at the close of Chapter 11 we are told how dangerous it was to even know Jesus’ location; and we understand that members of the Sanhedrin clearly prefer land and nation over following and coming to know one who might be the Messiah.  How do we react to these chilling words?

And so we read, we pause, we reflect . . . and then we pray:  Good and faithful brother, we read this account of how you comforted your friends and called Lazarus back to this life.  We also have read about your sadness and unease.  We have understood the danger you were in . . . and that you know we are often in danger when we follow you.  Yet we know that your words and your actions bring about the peace that all of us yearn to hold.  We know that you are our wise teacher and loving shepherd. 

We know that where you go there will be questions, yet we follow because we want answers.

We know that that where you go the old order will be questioned, yet we follow because with you we are unafraid. 

We know that where you go there will be peace . . . and so we follow for this is also how we wish to live. 

Guide us always, protect us always, be with us always . . . for we are trying to follow . . . you.  Amen. 

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 3, 2011.

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