Key Text

John 11:1-11

A man named Lazarus became dangerously ill. He and his two sisters, Mary and Martha, lived in the town of Bethany and were good friends of Jesus. Mary was the one who is remembered for having massaged the Lord’s feet with perfumed oils and dried them with her hair. When her brother Lazarus got sick, she and her sister sent a message to Jesus, saying, "Lord, your good mate Lazarus is gravely ill."

When Jesus got the message, he said, "This illness is not going to result in death, but in great credit being given to God and to the Son of God."

Despite his great love for Martha and her sister, and for Lazarus, Jesus did not drop everything the minute he got the message and head off to be with them. It was another two days before he finished up what he was doing and got ready to go. When he was ready he said to his disciples, "Let’s make tracks back to Judea."

But the disciples said, "Rabbi, you’ve only just fled Judea because they were trying to kill you there. Why on earth would you be wanting to go back?"
Jesus replied, "There is a time for working and a time for sleeping. If you go about your business during the daylight, you won’t stumble, because your world will be full of light. But if you wait until its dark, you will fall flat on your face because you will have no light to guide you. Our good mate Lazarus has gone to sleep, and I am going down there to wake him up."

cited from Laughing Bird Liturgical Resources


Image of the week

March 17, 2005

The Raising of Lazarus

The Raising of Lazarus
Guercino, c 1650

original link

For last week's image (10 March, 2005), click here.


Present Context

For Reflection

This story presents a number of challenges to the reader's perceptions:
* Why does Jesus allow Lazarus to die before responding?
* What regard does Jesus have for the feelings of Mary and Martha (whose reaction to Jesus on his arrival is telling [NB v21; not recorded in this text])?
* What is the relationship between head knowledge and faith as trust?

Consider the different reactions in Guercino's painting.

Consider Martha's reaction to Jesus' [later v23] assertion, "Your brother Lazarus will live again!"

The sisters' emotional pain has them delving back into the realm of nice theological assertion, almost in denial of their grief. Jesus first enters their grief (he weeps), which becomes the ground of new hope.

Does God want us to ignore our emotions, or to be honest about them; to discover his hope and grace in and through them?

Is faith an objective statement of truth, or a subjective experience of God's presence (or both)?

We pray: Lord who wept with Mary and Martha, join me in the expression of my deepest emotions, that I might know your gracious presence there. Grant me a faith which is not dispassionate and unfeeling, but one which is grounded in my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength.

Let all of me express trust in and love for you.