Psalm 130; Ezekiel 37 : 1 – 14; Romans 8 : 6 – 11; John 11 : 1 – 45
The reflection for this week is by Local Preacher, David Bainbridge (Horfield).
The raising of Lazarus described in John’s Gospel does raise questions.
Firstly, it is implied that it was to show that the Son of God may be glorified through it. But that God should intentionally put a family through such trauma to glorify his son just doesn’t fit with the God we see reflected in the life and teaching of Jesus.
Secondly, why did Jesus delay going to Bethany when he knew that his friend was ill? Imagine how much this added to the family’s distress.
Thirdly, why, if this episode in the life of Jesus was the catalyst for his subsequent arrest and trial, is it not recorded in any of the other Gospels? Matthew, Mark, and Luke all highlight the cleansing of the temple as the event which tipped the balance with the religious leaders and provoked them into orchestrating his arrest. Why do none of them record the raising of Lazarus which really must be seen as the greatest of his miracles?
These questions have led some scholars to query a literal interpretation of this event and see it more in the nature of allegory or parable or sign that points us towards the joy of Easter and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, the promise of new life, eternal life in him.
They see the parallels between the story of Lazarus and the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Some give other explanations, but when we turn to the key verse in that passage where Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life,” then what becomes important is not whether this story is literally true or not but the eternal truth it illustrates, Jesus is the resurrection and the life. The real miracle is not the raising of Lazarus, be in fact, parable, or allegory, but the eternal hope we have through Christ.
Yet resurrection isn’t just a future event it is a present reality. This is the foundation of our hope, that whatever mistakes we’ve made, whatever mess we have made in our lives we can receive forgiveness and experience renewal. This hope is not dependent on favorable circumstances but on the victory for love, we see on the cross, affirmed in the resurrection.
On a God who is right there with us in the more difficult, darker moments of our lives even though we don’t always recognize his presence. He’s there because we matter to him. In him, our lives find real meaning and purpose and as we live in that hope, we also become agents of hope reaching out to people who are struggling to make sense of their lives.
But let’s not delude ourselves or hold out any false promises that this new life will be free from human sorrow. What it does mean is that through every experience in life, he is right there beside us and that even what some describe as the final curtain is but a doorway to life, that, as the hymn writer described, “shall endless be.”
Loving God, we thank you for the living hope we have in the resurrection of your Son Jesus.
Help us to live out that hope so that it touches the lives of others, bringing life in all its fullness.