Grace: To know Jesus more intimately, so that I may follow him with all my heart.
Text: John 11:1-44
Reflection: As we follow Jesus, praying and begging for the grace to know Him in the deepest part of our hearts, we hear that His dear friend Lazarus is sick. Martha and Mary have desperately sent urgent word to Jesus so that He may save Lazarus from an untimely death. And despite the urgency of this news, Jesus chooses to wait, saying, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” There are divine plans at work here, plans that we can only glimpse. Jesus asks for our trust.
Upon deciding to see His cherished friends, Jesus hears the disciples voice their doubts: Hadn’t they just narrowly escaped the wrath of the Jews who tried to stone Jesus to death? Why on earth would He go back? Jesus remains firm. He is walking in the light of God—He is the light of God. This is the light that scatters all fear and sin. We can hear the fear in Thomas’ voice when he says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus and His disciples arrive at Bethany. Jesus consoles Martha by revealing to her His identity as the Savior of the world. And yet, that does not disperse the grief in her heart, nor the grief in Jesus’ heart that will soon be revealed by His tears. Mary runs to meet Jesus. She expresses her suffering to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” What powerful words! We can feel her intense pain and sorrow: “This could have been avoided! Lord, if you had just been here everything would have come out all right!” How many times have we shouted those same words to God? “Lord, if you had been here…”
We follow Jesus to the tomb. His emotions overtake His composure and He breaks down. He weeps. The suffering that death imparts to this world pierces His heart. Jesus is distraught. His dear friend has died. But the echo of His words to His disciples and His effort to console Martha resound in His heart. Trust in God! Trust in the mission! Trust!
Jesus gathers Himself and prays to His Father aloud, thanking Him for the love they share. He orders that the stone sealing the entrance to the tomb be moved. Jesus calls out to Lazarus, who is lying bound up in bandages within the tomb. He emerges. The darkness of death has been scattered by the light of Christ.
The friendship of Jesus penetrates deep into our souls and gives us life! The bonds of sin shall be broken—they will no longer hold us in death. Oh that we might follow Jesus until the end! If we have implored Him to be present at the death of our loved ones, then must we not also be present at His death, which is approaching fast on the horizon? Jerusalem awaits Him. Let us ask for the courage to follow His footsteps.
Questions: What emotions arise within my heart and soul when I reflect on this passage? Have I ever implored Jesus to be present during some time of great suffering? How did He respond? Let me focus on some of the conversations that take place in this scene between Jesus and His disciples, Jesus and Martha, Jesus and Mary. What are they saying? Let me focus on Jesus as He sees all those weeping around Him, mourning the loss of Lazarus. How does He react? What does He say? What does He do?