Grace: To have heartfelt knowledge of Jesus who wept over his friend Lazarus, and raised him from the dead, so that I may love him more fervently and follow him more closely.
Text for Prayer: John 11:1-57
Reflection: This scene marks a pivotal point in the Gospel of John and the narrative of Jesus’ public ministry for three reasons. First, it is such a marvelous miracle that many people begin to believe in Jesus’ special identity and mission. This makes the Pharisees and the powers that be uneasy, since they had publicly opposed Jesus. Would the people turn against them on account of Jesus of Nazareth? This miracle instigates the plotting of the Pharisees, which will ultimately end with the decision to have Jesus killed.
Second, it reveals the deep love and affection that Jesus had for Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Throughout the Gospels Jesus stays with these three siblings and is nourished by their warmth and friendship. Bethany, the town where they lived, becomes something of a spiritual oasis for Jesus, where he goes to rest and make merry. When Lazarus dies, Jesus is deeply affected but chooses not to act, deferring to the will of his Father. This is so that more may come to believe that Jesus truly is the “Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” (Verse 27). When Jesus sees the tomb, he is moved to tears and openly expresses his sorrow over the loss of his dear friend.
Third, it reveals that Jesus’ mission is one of forgiveness and resurrection from the fate of sin and death–not the worldly mission of conquering Israel’s enemies as many thought and hoped Jesus to be. Jesus is deeply affected by this death, because it comes even for his friends. The only solution that can save his friends from this terrible reality will eventually be his own death, which he lovingly and humbly accepts.
Questions: What kinds of emotions arise when I think about the raising of Lazarus? Has the death of loved ones in my life prompted me to react like Martha when she confronts Jesus and says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died!”? Have I been able to say, along with Martha, “And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you,” the sentence that directly follows her rebuke? How do I see my own friendship with Christ? Do I weep over his Passion, over his suffering and torment on the cross? Am I moved to tears by what he chooses to suffer for me?