Sunday, April 10, 2011
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 for 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 for 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 upwards 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. John 11:1-45
I am one of four sisters and Mark and I produced three sisters. My mother is one of three sisters, and my husband's sister has become as sister to me. I lost my sister Pegi in 1990 and there has been a hole in our lives ever since. I am surrounded by wonderful, beautiful, creative women. They are talkative, opinionated and sometimes bossy. They are always compassionate, tender, loving and supportive. They all have amazing skills. They know how to stay in touch and tease, they know how to find a sore spot and put some salve on it. They love fiercely and completely and I am grateful for every one of them. My life is rich because of my sisters and the women in my family.
Martha and Mary are among the few women named in the Gospels. They also reappear in several places, demonstrating their importance to the ministry. Martha is the worker, Mary the more flighty intellectual. Their brother is sick and then dies - and they feel not only the loss but the assumed abandonment of their friend Jesus. They think he doesn't care. Jesus more than cares. He comes and brings the beloved brother back to life to the astonishment of all. Love that moves beyond the grave, overpowering even the strongest barriers we know. Jesus demonstrates God's commitment to each and everyone of us by coming to his dear friends, Martha and Mary, and raising their lost brother to them. Martha, the worker, the one who scolds her dear friend Jesus for his late arrival,is also the one that clearly confesses her faith. " Yes Lord, I believe." Her statement of belief is the clearest one in the Gospels - she gets it, the sister who spends her time in the kitchen and who is exasperated quite frequently with the whole bunch of them. And Jesus tells us all clearly that this love that reaches beyond all human barriers is for all kinds of people - including all the sisters.
Today, I want to live understanding that whatever lose I have suffered, Jesus is on the way to deliver new life to me. To each of us. Whatever our challenges and grief, God is determined to bring about a resurrection. Love that breaks down all barriers and overpowers even the darkest of graves is coming for all of us. May we all have the pateince to wait for the arrival of new life in Jesus Christ and meanwhile confess our faith as boldly as Martha does. Despite any evidence to the contrary, may we rejoice in the healing and new life coming our way today.