This gospel continues to suck me in, to show me new things...and that I am loving. I’m at a conference this week, so my thoughts are brief....
1) “Doubting Thomas” shows a different side here—“Let’s go so we can die with him!” I guess the moniker may be a bit misleading.
2) Resurrection—it only happens if one dies. So, while we get all excited about the new life that Jesus brings, we must remember that we have to go through a death before we find new life.
The writer is quiet on the circumstances of Lazarus’ death. Why did he die? How did he die? We do know that Jesus got word that Lazarus was sick. What kind of sickness? In that time and place, the flu was deadly...much more so than today. Perhaps ‘sick’ was simply, “Something is wrong...we don’t know what...but he’s going downhill.” Whatever it was, it wasn’t a sudden death—like from an accident of some kind. Rather, he died over several days. Perhaps there was pain. Perhaps there were breathing problems. Perhaps he was in and out of consciousness. No matter what, death was not easy. Lazarus may have been aware up to the end. If he wasn’t, Martha and Mary were very aware as they watched their brother slip out of this world. This was hard. This was heart-breaking. It was death.
Yet, without the process of death, there could be no resurrection. Sometimes, I think we enjoy focusing on the end, the happy ending, but we must think about the death first. This segues beautifully with the Lenten season. Lent is all about dying...to self, to sin. We must die. Then, we can live. Then, we can know resurrection.
This passage goes a lot of places—the conversation with his disciples, the conversations with Martha and then Mary, and the outpouring of Jesus feelings (though, I'm not entirely sure what he is crying about....) In any case, it all ends with resurrection.
Are we willing to die or let something die? Are we willing to die to self? Once something dies, resurrection is possible. We are celebrating “Renewal Sunday” this week in our congregation—a time for folks to declare their faith in Jesus, to renew their Christian walk, to come for baptism. So, this passage speaks a message we need to hear—Jesus resurrects our lives...even after we’re good and dead.
(Go HERE to read my intro to this series.)