Year A Lent 5 : John 11:1-45
"You don't go look at where it happened," said Scott Goodyear, who was the 33rd race-car drivers who have been killed in crashes at the Indianapolis 500. "You don't watch the films of it on television. You don't deal with it. You pretend it never happened." The Speedway operation itself encourages this approach. As soon as the track closes the day of an accident, a crew heads out to paint over the spot where the car hit the wall. Through the years, a driver has never been pronounced dead at the race track. A trip to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Racing Museum, located inside the 2.5-mile oval, has no memorial to the 40 drivers who have lost their lives here. Nowhere is there even a mention. Perhaps that is typical of the way that most people will not face up to the inevitability of death.
Today's reading is probably very familiar to most people, and the I would like to mention three, brief points from it :
First, Jesus is Lord of time.
Jesus deliberately delayed for two days before coming to Bethany. There was a temptation to immediately respond to the need of his close friends. Yet, on the other hand, the disciples tried to dissuade Jesus from going by reminding him that last time they were there the Jews tried to stone him, verse 8. Jesus shows that he does his father's will and that this event will bring glory to God the father and God the Son, and that people would believe in him, verses 4,15.
Mary and Martha must have wondered what was happening as they waited for Jesus to come.
Sometimes we may think that the world is out of control, but we can be assured that God is in charge. His goal is that as many people as possible will come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Secondly, Jesus is Lord of life, and death. Jesus proved this by raising Lazarus from death.
He said, verse 25, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
These words are read at funeral services and remind us that even though someone may die physically, they need not die spiritually if they trust in Jesus. Lazarus was raised back to life, but it was still a life where there was evil in the world, sickness, suffering and death. Lazarus would physically die himself for a second time.
People who have a right relationship with Jesus will continue to have this after they have died. Indeed they will inherit a better, resurrection body and life, free from sin, death, disease and suffering.
Jesus is Lord of life and death because he is God. Seven times in John's gospel Jesus describes himself using the words I am. I am the light of the world; I am the bread of life; I am the way the truth and the life; I am the good shepherd, etc...
Who calls himself 'I am in the Bible ? God.
In Exodus 3:14. God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: `I AM has sent me to you.' "
Thirdly, Jesus demands a response. At the end of today's reading we discover that, because of the raising of Lazarus many Jews trusted in Jesus, verse 45. However, when the Pharisees heard what had happened they plotted to kill Jesus, verse 53. They were more concerned about their own position that justice or truth. By raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus virtually signed his own death warrant.
This reminds us that some people will not follow Jesus. Even those who do may need encouragement to radically trust in him. We see this with Martha.
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 "Take away the stone," he said. "But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." 40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone.
Mary was able to say the right things about Jesus at first, but when she had to roll away the stone she objected. Even Lazarus could have been uncooperative and failed to obey Jesus command to come out of the tomb. He could have thought, I've got to get up with all these heavy bandages and spices round me. I'm going to go out there a right mess, looking like something from a horror movie. No, I'm staying here !
This may seem a bit ridiculous, but I hope you get the point. It is all right to say the right words like Martha, to hear the words of Jesus like Lazarus, but we have to obey them too.
We have to make the transition that Martha did. From saying that we believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God to the actions that shows that we our trust is real. There are two areas where this action is vital.
The action of serving, even when we feel inadequate or weak, because it is when we feel like this that we can truly discover God's power and life in us.
And also the action of giving. We have received so much from God, materially and spiritually. If we say that he comes first in our lives let us show it in our finances by giving to him first, rather than the left-overs.
W. Graham Scroggie :"There are two ways in which a Christian may view his money "How much of my money shall I use for God?" or "How much of God's money shall I use for myself?"
Let us thank God for what he has done for us, including what has happened in the last year.
Let us rededicate ourselves to His ways, trusting in the life that he gives those who are truly committed to him.