Tag Archives: third scrutiny

5th Sunday of Lent, cycle A

The Gospel — John 11: 1-45

The cast of characters…

Martha and Mary are the voices of all faith-filled people who have suffered loss:

“Where were you? If You had only been here . . .”

Lazarus– “the one whom Jesus loved” is a paradigm of every believer.

Just as Jesus calls to Lazarus to “Come out!” so, too, he calls to each of us to come out from whatever entombs us and allow ourselves to be ‘untied’

by his grace and live to ‘go free’.

The disciples are the ones who pretend to be brave and wise, but are often clueless.

Jesus cries and is perturbed, also. ( the Greek word is a strong one, ebrimaomai, meaning frustrated, angry, sometimes used to describe a horse snorting) Why?  No easy answer.

If Jesus reveals to us the invisible God, what does Jesus show us here about God?  Where do you see yourself in the story?

Jesus waited.  Scripture uses the word remained, which gives the waiting an intentionality.  Lazarus was dead for 4, long days.  All hope was lost.  But everything is possible with God, right?  As we heard in Paul’s letter to the Romans a couple weeks ago, “…hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts…” (5:5).  It was for the glory of God.  God’s time is not our time.  What wonderful things may lie in wait for you if you hope in the glory of the Lord?

Martha is worried about the stench in the cave when Jesus approaches (as, of course, Martha would!). And don’t we sometimes get stuck in the details of life instead of the bigger picture?  Jesus waves her off and focuses on why he is there, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”  Jesus is not afraid to come to our stinky, dark places and breathe new life into us!  And actually, Jesus does not go into the cave but calls Lazarus out.  Jesus calls us OUT of ourselvesAnd he calls others in to help Lazarus with the bandages.  We need the support of our community to jump in and be there with us.  Jesus is in the midst of it all.  Do you see yourself in this?  Our church?

From Exploring the Sunday Readings, March 2002:

John 11: 1-45 – “This illness is not to end in death . . .”

Jesus said the illness would not end in death, but it did.  Lazarus died.  And so have our friends and loved ones over the years, some of them great believers in the promises of Jesus.  We’ve all known people who’ve prayed and prayed that the cancer would go away, or the doctors would find a cure for their condition in time.  Sometimes it doesn’t, or they don’t.  And it hurts terribly, for the ones who have to let go of the life they know, the ones who have to say goodbye too soon.

Lazarus dies, and his family grieves.  Even Jesus weeps at the loss.  But then, Lazarus is called out of death to life!  And now we hear what Jesus really said: not that Lazarus wouldn’t die, but that death would not be the end of him.  Death wins the battle, but love wins the war.  So we believe.  So we profess.

Human suffering is a mystery we must live with and in – it is a part of everyone’s life eventually. As we head toward Holy Week, it is important to think about how as Christians we view this. What does the cross of Christ tells us about suffering?  The cross does not really tell us the why of suffering, but it offers us instead the where of God’s sharing in it.  When we suffer, God is in the midst of our suffering. Emmanuel, God-with-us, is also Christ on the cross, God-who-suffers-with-us.

Jesus’ life, death and resurrection are our guarantee that when we reach the limits of our mortality in failure, loss, and pain, we find ourselves on the surprising road to resurrection.    (Today’s Parish, Lent 1996, p.22)

Let us pray…

 “Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of self-sufficiency wherein you do not admit your need for God and for one another.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of preoccupation with yourself and open your eyes to the needs of others.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of excessive busyness; take time to think, to listen, to be quiet and to pray.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of self-imposed obligations; untie yourself from the unimportant, the fleeting and the material so as to be free to experience the essential, the eternal and the spiritual.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb dug deep by apathy and ignorance and be newly awakened and sensitive to the plight of the poor, the oppressed.

 “Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of hopelessness and skepticism and be renewed in the knowledge that you are mine, I am yours and we are God’s.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of needless worry and undue anxiety. Know the love of a devoted God. Find courage and freedom here.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of sin and guilt and grief.  Know the truth of forgiveness — received and given.

“Come out,” says Jesus,

from the tomb of death and share God’s eternal life and forever love. Amen.