To understand the meaning of this gospel it is important to situate it a little in the life and ministry of Jesus.
When the parable begins Jesus is in the relative safety of the countryside about two walking days from Bethany.
Bethany is on the outskirts of Jerusalem it was the capital of Israel and the home to all of those who were opposed to Jesus and his mesage
Suddenly he receives a message that his dear Friend Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary is very sick.
His relationship is so strong that Martha didn’t even have to say please come.
Both Jesus and Lazarus’ family knew that he would.
Then something strange happens the passage reads.
“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus so when he heard that he was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was. “
Why would he wait two more days if he loved them.
Why didn’t he rush to Lazarus’ side to heal him
Why didn’t he just say be healed we’ll see in a moment
Finally two days later he tells his disciples about Lazarus and that they are going to Bethany which is in Judea.
He does so with the full knowledge that going to Bethany will put his life in danger.
The disciples warn him about the danger, danger to him and danger to them. The last time they were near Jersualem they tried to stone Jesus
Thomas who we often dismiss as the doubter shows the depth of his love and commitment to Jesus by saying. “Let us go and die with him.”
When Jesus arrives Lazarus is already dead 4 days, 4 days was the legal time it takes to declare a person dead. There is no chance that Lazarus is still alive or in a coma.
Jesus finds Martha and Mary distraught and and he is so touched by their sorrow that he weeps with them even when he knows that he will raise Lazarus from the dead.
His emotion shows the depth of his love and humanity
When Jesus reveals to Martha that he is Messiah and the resurrection and the life
she proclaims her faith in him.
And when both Martha and Mary are at the tomb Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
One last thing about this powerful story.
News of this miracle spread far and wide and the scholars tell us that the miracle was probably the reason that Jesus received such a hero’s welcome when he arrived in Jerusalem.
It is also the reason that the Caiaphas and the religious leaders decided that Jesus would have to die on the cross.
By raising Lazarus to new from the dead Jesus accepted death he would have to suffer on the cross.
What does all of this have to do with us?
What lessons can we learn from this story?
The first and maybe the most important lesson is simple that sometimes God waits.
Sometimes when we pray or ask for something and it appears that we receive no answer.
Martha and Mary would have wanted and expected that Jesus drop everything and come but he didn’t
It seems sometimes God waits.
Just like Jesus waited two days when he heard that Lazarus was very sick.
Yes Jesus could have rushed to restore him to health
But by waiting until Lazarus was undisputably dead Jesus not only restored Lazarus to life, but he also open the hearts and minds of Martha, Mary and many others to faith.
We always have to remember that only God know the whole picture only God knows when his love will have the greatest effect.
When we pray and ask for something we have to trust that God will answer our prayer in the very best of moments in the best possible way.
Another point to ponder is this.
We often dismiss Thomas as the doubter because of his failure to believe that Jesus was really risen from the dead. That’s where the phrase Doubting Thomas comes from.
In this passage it was Thomas and only Thomas who was willing to pay the ultimate price of discipleship by accompanying Jesus to Jerusalem.
So often we judge ourselves and others by our worst moments, we put ourselves and others into little boxes, for example Thomas the doubter.
Today’s Gospel proves that there was more much more to Thomas than his doubts.
When we judge others, when we judge ourselves we have to be sure to consider the whole person not just one moment, one failure one characteristic.
Just like there was more to Thomas than his doubts there is more to us and others then our faults and failures.
When it comes to a human heart God looks at the whole picture and so should we.
When Jesus arrived he did not just immediately raise Lazarus to the dead.
First he called Martha to new a deeper faith in him.
Just like Jesus called Martha and Mary to a deeper faith he calls each of us trust and faith in his love.
Finally we have to ask ourselves are we willing to pay the price of love
The end result of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was not only that Lazarus was restored to life but that Martha and Mary and so many others came to a deeper trust and faith in Jesus
Jesus was willing to pay the price of love.
He knew the consequences of his actions he knew this act of love would seal his fate but his love for Lazarus and his family was so strong that he was willing to accept the consequences.
Are we willing to love without counting the cost?
Are we willing to do good even when there will be a consequence for us or a price to pay
Throughout his life Jesus’ example calls us to sacrificial love pray God that we can willingly follow in his footsteps.
Remember sometime God waits.
In difficult moment’s God calls us to trust even when we don’t understand
We and everyone we know are more than our worst moments
Jesus was willing to pay the price or consequences of Love are we ?
These are the truths that I found in the Gospel this week.
Thank you Lord for your living Word