Lent 5A: Transforming Death Into Life

What is the tomb that Jesus is calling you to emerge from?


For the 5th Sunday of Lent, Lindsey and Adam discuss the story of Lazarus in John 11:1-45. “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live.” But shortly after Jesus says this, he begins to weep.

Why does Jesus weep?

Just before raising Lazarus from the dead, tears spill from Jesus’s eyes. Why, when he alone knows the unprecedented joy that is about to ensue? Why, when he can probably see in his mind’s the incredible reunion mere moments away?

There is so much within this story: family, friendship, doubt, faith, death, life. And there’s so much within Jesus: sorrow, grief, wisdom, love, hope… fear? Perfect Love casts out fear… was Jesus perfecting his own love, and discovering the infinite possibilities within himself, in this moment?

Looking closely at this story, we see patterns of accusation and a world caught up in violence. Jesus’s disciples point out that, in going to Lazarus, Jesus would be returning to a place where people had tried to stone him. Mary and Martha’s loss of their brother is particularly devastating in a patriarchal culture where women without male relatives were physically and economically vulnerable. Jesus sees the patterns of humanity’s violence and its consequences distilled in this scene and compounded by personal grief.

So Jesus weeps in compassion, in the shared sorrow and love for his friend and the hole that his absence has left. And beneath that surface, he weeps for a world caught up in the pain and grief of violence and disease and death. His sadness echoes through the ages, goes to the heart of the broken world’s malady.

But there is also hope in his tears, hope and faith that there is a power stronger than death. In all of Mary and Martha’s pain, they still feel hope, believing that Jesus can still make things better. Perhaps their faith reinforces his just as his reinforces theirs. That’s what being human is all about.

What is the tomb that Jesus is calling you to emerge from? What binds you, and how can faith and love set you free?

The Olive

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