A man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her
sister Martha. This was the same Mary who massaged the Lord's
feet with aromatic oils and then wiped them with her hair. It
was her brother Lazarus who was sick. So the sisters sent word
Jesus, "Master, the one you love so very much is sick."
When Jesus got the message, he said, "This sickness is not
fatal. It will become an occasion to show God's glory by glorifying
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, but oddly, when
he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed on where he was for
two more days. After the two days, he said to his disciples,
"Let's go back to Judea.
They said, "Rabbi, you can't do that. The Jews are out to
kill you, and you're going back?"
Jesus replied, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight?
Anyone who walks in daylight doesn't stumble because there's
plenty of light from the sun. Walking at night, he might very
well stumble because he can't see where he's going."
He said these things, and then announced, "Our friend Lazarus
has fallen asleep. I'm going to wake him up."
The disciples said, "Master, if he's gone to sleep, he'll
get a good rest and wake up feeling fine." Jesus was talking
about death, while his disciples thought he was talking about
taking a nap.
Then Jesus became explicit: "Lazarus died. And I am glad
for your sakes that I wasn't there. You're about to be given
new grounds for believing. Now let's go to him."
That's when Thomas, the one called the Twin, said to his companions,
"Come along. We might as well die with him."
When Jesus finally got there, he found Lazarus already four days
dead. Bethany was near Jerusalem, only a couple of miles away,
and many of the Jews were visiting Martha and Mary, sympathizing
with them over their brother. Martha heard Jesus was coming and
went out to meet him. Mary remained in the house.
Martha said, "Master, if you'd been here, my brother wouldn't
have died. Even now, I know that whatever you ask God he will
Jesus said, "Your brother will be raised up."
Martha replied, "I know that he will be raised up in the
resurrection at the end of time."
"You don't have to wait for the End. I am, right now, Resurrection
and Life. The one who believes in me, even though he or she dies,
will live. And everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately
die at all. Do you believe this?"
"Yes, Master. All along I have believed that you are the
Messiah, the Son of God who comes into the world."
After saying this, she went to her sister Mary and whispered
in her ear, "The Teacher is here and is asking for you."
The moment she heard that, she jumped up and ran out to him.
Jesus had not yet entered the town but was still at the place
where Martha had met him. When her sympathizing Jewish friends
saw Mary run off, they followed her, thinking she was on her
way to the tomb to weep there. Mary came to where Jesus was waiting
and fell at his feet, saying, "Master, if only you had been
here, my brother would not have died."
When Jesus saw her sobbing and the Jews with her sobbing, a deep
anger welled up within him. He said, "Where did you put
"Master, come and see," they said. Now Jesus wept.
The Jews said, "Look how deeply he loved him."
Others among them said, "Well, if he loved him so much,
why didn't he do something to keep him from dying? After all,
he opened the eyes of a blind man."
Then Jesus, the anger again welling up within him, arrived at
the tomb. It was a simple cave in the hillside with a slab of
stone laid against it. Jesus said, "Remove the stone."
The sister of the dead man, Martha, said, "Master, by this
time there's a stench. He's been dead four days!"
Jesus looked her in the eye. "Didn't I tell you that if
you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
Then, to the others, "Go ahead, take away the stone."
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed,
"Father, I'm grateful that you have listened to me. I know
you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here
I've spoken so that they might believe that you sent me."
Then he shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" And he came out,
a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over
Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him loose."
<The Message >
Friend Lazarus apparently needed to die before he could be brought
forth to aid our ability to see GOD's glory.
What in our culture needs us to not intervene to keep it propped
up so it too can die that it might be unwrapped and loosed back
into life with a renewed ability to demonstrate GOD's glory?
The odds are that it will have something to do with our economy
as that currently takes so much of our attention. It may also
have something to do with our tendency toward an over emphasis
upon security by our own devices.
In our personal life, what needs to finally be given up that
it might die to open the space for seeing GOD's glory revealed?
Martha's concurrent accusation and faith statement is not so
different from our usual daily living. On the one hand we storm
the gates of heaven, if only through prayer, we strive mightily
to simply keep that which we have grown used to going. On the
other we recognize our lack of control in our storming and striving
and simply let it be.
Finally Martha recognizes both pushes in her, comes to some resolution
regarding them and goes to get Mary. What will it take for you
to come to some resolution between your storming /striving and
your sense of "enough" so you can go to invite another
stormer/striver to encounter the mystery of both/and.
So what have you been warned about? From a recent sermon by Bishop
Sharon Zimmerman Rader, Wisconsin United Methodist Annual Conference
we hear these words.
"We've been warned. We've been warned not to tell anyone.
And we've obeyed. We've been warned not to make people uncomfortable
about how they spend their money or waste their time. We've been
warned not to challenge our government for its unjust economy
or its military policies. We've been warned not to talk openly
about sexuality. We've been warned not to say that the Book
of Discipline is sometimes incompatible with Christian
teaching. We've been warned not to tell that we are gay or lesbian.
We've been warned."
<you can read more about this sermon based on Esther and a
recent event sponsored by progressive United Methodists at
Having been warned by his disciples; having been warned by our
culture -- what did Jesus do? What will you do?
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