Text – John 11:1-45:
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
This story about the raising of Lazarus comes just before the account of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the Christian calendar’s commemoration of Palm Sunday. Some scholars think that John put it here to prepare us for the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
I like what Craddock, et al. says about this text. “…the death and resurrection of Lazarus is but a sign: apart from trust in God, the world is a cemetery, but into that world, God sends Jesus Christ as the offer of resurrection. As Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” John 11:25.
Lazarus’ sisters wanted their brother back, but Jesus offers them so much more. More than they ever imagined. Through his own death and resurrection Jesus was offering life to the whole world in addition to raising Lazarus, the brother, from the grave.
In John 12:24 Jesus said, “…unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” This event and the events leading up to the trial and crucifixion show us how much Jesus believed this principle. And we see the truth of it as the resurrected Jesus set loose the Kingdom of God on the events of mankind.
Sunday is Palm Sunday, but we know it is just the gateway that leads to the Resurrection and the ultimate defeat of Satan. Praise God for this.
God of the Resurrected One. We are mindful of where this road we are on takes us. At first to what looks like loss and defeat. The humiliation and death of Jesus. But then to Resurrection, empty tomb, and an empowered church, ready to risk imprisonment and death for the sake of a risen Lord. Please help us to be faithful to this idea. In Jesus’ name. Amen.