It gets me every time I read it: “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that [Lazarus] was ill, he remained for two days in the place where he was.”
Jesus loved them, so he stayed away. He waited, in fact, until Lazarus was well and truly dead. He could have healed Lazarus and saved them all a good deal of heartache. But so they could see the glory of God and believe, he stayed put.
No question, Jesus loves them. These are some of his closest friends. And he is deeply troubled by their grief, and weeps with them. BUT. So they could see the glory of God; so they could know him not only as healer, but as the resurrection and the life; he allows them not only to grieve, but to wonder where he is. He allows them to wait until it’s too late. Only, in Jesus, “too late” is never the end.
How many of us are wondering today, where is God? Doesn’t he know how many people are sick and dying … that our hospitals are overwhelmed … that people are lonely and afraid … that businesses are closed … that meat and beans and even toilet paper are running out? (Lord, surely you care even about that!)
Today (on the fifth Sunday of Lent), the Church pairs this gospel with God’s promise in Ezekiel 37 that he will “open your graves and have you rise from them, … put my spirit in you that you may live” — and with Psalm 130. That’s the penitential Psalm that begins
Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord!
Lord, hear my voice!
Together, these readings meet us where we are and give us hope.
Today I call to God with this Psalm from the deep, dark place I am in. Lord, can you hear me? Will you please come? I know you love me. Why do you stay away?
Then the Psalm lifts me up:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning, …
A “watchman” is a sentinel. He’s a guard who’s job it is to keep watch. Imagine doing that job in the wee hours, staring into the dark and waiting, straining for the first light of day and someone to relieve you. That’s the picture here.
… more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
Because night will not have the last word, any more than death will. The sun (and the Son) will come! How do I know?
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plenteous redemption.
Anything he allows to happen, happens within the scope of his love. And his plan is to redeem us – to save us. Note that it’s not just any redemption; it’s “plenteous” redemption. Abundant, copious, overflowing, bounteous. Ample, profuse, lavish. So much redemption, it overwhelms the need, just as morning light banishes the shadows.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope
Let us be patient and wait for the Lord. Sit in the darkness while he allows it to continue, crane our ears for his voice, watch and wait so we’re ready when he comes. Trust in his love. He sees us. He hears us. He is distressed and weeps along with us. And if he delays, it’s so that something greater can come. He knows the glories and new life that lie on the other side. Hope in his word!
Without a death, there can’t be a resurrection. And the Lord IS the resurrection.
Wait on the Lord, and trust.
Today I encourage you to Come Into the Word with me. Steep yourself in today’s readings http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/032920.cfm. Continue on to the end of John’s gospel, and read again how the story unfolds.
© 2020 Sarah Christmyer
Jean Spitzer says
Sarah Dear, Thanks for including me in your blog.
Regarding Jesus going to see Mary & Martha in Bethany he knew what was happening. When Jesus wept, my sense is, he wept for those who lacked Faith in His wonder- working power, to witness to the mourners, that yes He is the Resurrection and the Life! While He had not been raised from the dead, but Life in Him brings resurrection power, unlike anything else. God is perfect in ALL HIS ways, purposes, intentions, allowing the mysterious part of life in Him to become clear at the best time.