Today we look at the story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They lived in Judea, I had never noticed before that for Jesus to go back to visit them was a dangerous act, the people there were trying to stone him. I love the confidence in which Jesus is portrayed at putting the visit off, it will all be for the Glory of God. Of course we get there, and he was too late as he knew and both the sisters say, IF ONLY.. If only you had been here these things wouldnt have happened, you could have made him well. They knew and believed in the power of Jesus they had seen it in action and they loved him deeply. He loved them deeply too, he cried with them sitting in their grief..Comforting each other in the pain of loss. They hadn’t just lost a brother, but thier protector,thier voice into the community. If only you had been here all of this wouldn’t have happened.
I was thinking about how often we say those words if only. I have heard them often in grief, if they hadn’t been driving so fast, if only they hadn’t been drinking to much if only they had talked to me, if only we had more time.. This pain would not be here or would not be as bad. Lazarus is a difficult story for me, here we hear of a good friend of Jesus being raised from the dead, why him God? Just because you knew him and liked him? What about those other good and faithful Christians who too are your best friend, who are martyred for you, who die suddenly, or who contract some terrible disease. Why?
For the women it was an impossible thing, he has been dead for 4 days, which is biblical terms for a really long time and he is definitely gone! He will stink! I think often in grief of all types it can be very difficult to see hope. I love that a third of the reading today is about Jesus sitting in the sadness and being sad too, grieving at the loss of his friend as well. If being a Christian is about doing what Jesus did then here is a clear example fo what we can do. Sit in sadness with those who are sad.
As I drew this picture I loved that Jesus is looking over their shoulder and whilst being present with them could also see hope. He saw Lazarus coming out of the tomb, he saw beyond thier present situation, beyond the grief to what was more. I wonder if part of our journey with those who are grieving and struggling is to remind people that there is more to this picture than what you can currently see. I don’t think it is about using trite sayings, but seeing the hope of a future. It will be different, and the journey to get there will not be easy and it will probably really stink at times, but it won’t be like this forever. God is present in ways you currently can’t see or understand. Do you have the courage to believe?
I was thinking how often when things are not real good we can find it really hard to turn around and to open our eyes to what is more. It takes good and faithful friends, people who can see more than we can that help us on that journey.
This week on Lent 5 You might want to think about who are your Jesus eyes, around you? Who are the people who can see God things that you currently can’t? What are they saying to you? What can you hear what are they saying that makes no sense at the moment? Maybe some of them have gone a difficult journey with you but kept a vision before you that helped lead the way. I give great thanks to those who have been my Jesus eyes along the way! Blessed be your journey particularly in broken and dark places.