Lesson for Chapel Services on Wednesday, April 5, 2017
John 11: 17-27, 32-35, 38-41, 43-44, Jesus raises Lazarus to life
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF JOHN
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep.
Then Jesus…came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.”
When he had said this, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
THE WORD OF THE LORD
and the People respond, “Thanks be to God.”
John’s story of the death and rebirth of Lazarus takes up the whole of Chapter 11 of John’s Gospel. I have done my best to “shorten” the story to make it a length that will work in Chapel services. I felt I had to completely leave out the reaction to the miracle, John 11:45-57, but it is certainly a very important part of the story. While many who were there came to believe Jesus was the Messiah, some went and told the Pharisees what had happened and they began to plot Jesus’ arrest and death. John reported that Jesus no longer walked around openly, but remained in Ephraim with his disciples for some period of time. Orders were given by the chief priests and the Pharisees that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know. And yet, Chapter 12 begins with Jesus back in Bethany with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. From there, he made his triumphant entry into Jerusalem to celebrate the festival of the Passover.
After Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb, he instructed the crowd to “Unbind him, and let him go.” For me, these words echo throughout the rest of the Gospel, as applied to Jesus himself. He was not to be tied down by fear, content with hiding. Jesus was able to trust God completely. His disciples were to learn, though, that if they chose to follow him, that path was to the cross.
In this season of Lent, may we consider what binds us. From what do we need to be freed? Is it possible to trust God as Jesus did?