Friday 27 March 2020

                             John 11 v 1/44
The gospel this week is the story of Jesus restoring Lazarus from death to life. The first miracle of Jesus was at a wedding, this his final one is at a funeral. In this story we see the human and divine sides of Jesus. The rising is the final proof of Jesus as the Messiah and this spectacular miracle is the anticipation of Jesus’ own death and resurrection.  It also reveals those who are sincere followers of Jesus will one day be with him.

This act however was the final event which motivated the Jewish leaders to have Jesus arrested, for they saw the crowds were responding to him.

Jesus never had a home of his own, and the nearest he came to having one was with three people he loved, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus at Bethany, two miles from Jerusalem on the slopes of the mount of Olives, where there now stands a chapel over the tomb of Lazarus.

When Lazarus became ill their first thought was to send for Jesus. Jesus on hearing their message said Lazarus was not dying, he was just sleeping. The word sleeping was used by Jesus as sleep is something you can awake from.

He allowed his friends to be sad and grieve so that they could witness his power over death, leading people to a deeper faith, and bring glory to God.

This shows Christians can be ill just as others, and what affects the body can also affect the soul. The sisters saw Jesus as a friend in time of need and saw him as the first to call upon, for he would know how best to act.

Jesus told his Apostles he was going to see Lazarus and they were much against him going, and warned him he could be arranging his own death for on a previous occasion he was attacked when visiting there. They were frightened of dying also, and only Thomas volunteered to go and took the line of, if Jesus is going to die, we may as well all go and die.

Jesus spoke of there being twelve hours in a day.  The Jews saw a day being in two periods of twelve hours, between sunrise and sunset, and there is often a hidden meaning in a statement. Jesus was saying if a person acted in daylight they would not stumble, but if left to darkness, might well do so. He was also meaning every minute counts and we should not waste time.

Jesus would when making statements have one of two effects, he either saved or chased people away.

John used this to show life without Christ was darkness for he was The light, and we all have a limited time to receive Jesus, and so to God, and we can affect eternal judgement.

When the people at Lazarus’ house heard Jesus was on his way, Martha went out to meet him, whilst Mary stayed home. Martha told Jesus she believed if he had come earlier he could have saved Lazarus from dying. Jesus told her that he would rise again, and whilst Martha believed the traditional Jewish belief that spoke of a time would come, she understood Jesus was also referring to that. But Jesus was speaking of eternal life in fellowship with God for those who believed in him. Personal trust in Jesus was demanded for those who would triumph over death.

When Jesus saw Mary weeping, he was deeply moved and wept also, indicating he felt strongly and had profound sorrow at the death of his friend, but he felt anger too at the evil of death, the final enemy. Underlying this was the knowledge of what was to follow for himself, and in this incident was displaying both his humanity and divinity

God will one day in response create a new world in which there will be no death and no pain.

Funerals at that time could be very expensive for there were spices to be purchased at some expense, and the body clothed, which sometimes caused competition as to which was most judged to be the grandest. Eventually a Rabbi named Gamaliel. brought such practice to and end, and still today tribute is paid to his name when wine is drunk for ending such extravagance.

The funerals were mostly well attended with people processing from the home to the grave. Women led the walk as a woman was first to sin and offend God. When the body left the house. all the furniture was reversed and guests would sit on the floor. A meal of hard boiled eggs and lentils would be prepared for the mourners.
Jesus at the graveside called for the stone to be pulled away from the tomb and spoke to God, thanking God for giving him such power, and God was glorified.  Lazarus rose from the tomb and was told to go home.

There were still some people who would not accept the power of Jesus, and there are still some who will not. But, the power of Jesus is often seen when bad people become good people as they call for Jesus into their lives.

God wants us to be living proof of the joy and power of Christ, but we are letting him down and betraying God when Christians, and especially Christian Ministers act in a way which contradict the teachings of Christ, as set out in the Bible.  Such is called hypocrisy and Jesus hated hypocrites.

There are people who may read this story and not treat seriously. In fact, it does not matter that much how little or how serious you accept. You may find problems in believing events of so long ago. What does matter is that you believe Jesus Christ died on a Cross, by that death can bring new life to those whose lives are troubled. I imagine there will be many such cases at this perilous time.

No comments:

Post a Comment