Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.”
After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
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 she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.
Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 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. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, 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. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried 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.”
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Encountering Christ will raise me from the darkness of death. This is His promise.
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming she went to meet him, but Mary sat at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died…I have come to believe that you are the Christ…”
There are two gospel narratives where Jesus and Martha dialogue with one another. The first tells of Martha scurrying to make her guest Jesus comfortable, but complains about it. The second story is the one we read today. The first seems to set up the second. In the first, Mary sits in quiet communion with Jesus. In the second, she is still sitting, only now feeling numb, sorrowful, and abandoned. As evidenced in the second story, Martha learned from her discourse with Jesus in the first. She is now in relationship with Him. He is now her friend and confidant. While Mary sits, Martha is inspired to run to Jesus. Amidst her own sorrow, she acts. In return, Mary misses and Martha shares in one of the great encounters of the gospel, one which moves Jesus to raise their brother – a sign too of His loving desire and ability to raise you and me.
And Jesus wept…
Jesus dialogues with Martha and is physically and emotionally touched by her faith and her loss. He prays to His Abba, therein finding comfort and discernment as to what needs doing. He raises Lazarus, not to make a statement, but because He loves him. He raises him for those like Martha who in faith surrender their soul to Him. He raises him to give His Father greater glory.
This is the story of encountering Jesus, doing so through faith-filled prayer of word and deed. The encounter Martha experiences reflects my own potential to encounter Christ. Prayer with Jesus builds faith and inspires action, and the action in turn further enriches prayer. Prayer of word and deed are complementary and inseparable. In my enfolding them into each other, I grow in Christ. I receive the profound grace of His intimate and infinite love, a love so deep and overflowing that it can even move Jesus to weep for little old me.
This is a beautiful story, and John is a profound writer. It is a long story by gospel standards, but every word adds meaning to it. Spend time with it today finding your own self in Martha and Mary and Lazarus…and in Jesus.
-Steve Hutchison, ‘68 is an alumnus of St. Louis U. High.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead,
and Christ will give you light.” – Ephesians 5:14
Jesus, through my encounter with You raise me up.
From death and brokenness raise me up.
To light and life raise me up.
-Steve Hutchison, ‘68
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