5th Sunday of Lent, Year A
6-9 year olds
(Adults, begin by reading the Gospel aloud to the child, unless the child is a very fluent reader.)
(full reading: John 11.1-45)
In the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about a miraculous thing that Jesus does. He has a family of close friends, Martha, Mary and Lazarus--two sisters and a brother. Lazarus becomes very ill, and before Jesus arrives at their house, he dies.
We hear that,
Jesus began to weep.
Of course Jesus cries. He is full of sorrow because he loves Lazarus. That's how we are when someone dies--full of sorrow. We might sob, we might get really angry, we might get really, really quiet. Jesus weeps.
But we also hear that,
Jesus was greatly disturbed in spirit
Hmm. Being disturbed is not the same as being full of sorrow. Something is bothering Jesus. He must know something is not right.
Jesus goes to the tomb where the people have put Lazarus' dead body. In Jesus' time, when someone died, people would wrap the dead body in cloths smelling of beautiful oils and spices to show how much they had loved that person. They would place the body in a tomb--a cave made out of rock--and roll a large stone over the opening. The stone would keep out keep animals from disturbing the tomb. The stone would also keep out light and air, but that would not matter because the person was no longer alive. The dead do not need light or air.
“Take away the stone.”
The people do not think this is a good plan. Lazarus has been dead for 4 days. But the people do what Jesus says.
What does Jesus do?
Jesus calls out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”
The dead man came out
When his friend Lazarus has died, Jesus calls him back to life.
He calls him!
How powerful is Jesus' voice, that he can simply command, and it happens?
He says it. He does it.
That reminds me of one of the stories of creation:
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
God commands it. It happens.
God says it. God does it.
No difference between saying and doing.
Not only that, but,
God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
God likes the light. God creates both light and life.
No wonder Jesus is troubled in spirit when Lazarus dies and everyone, including himself, is sad. In the tomb there is no light or life.
We know that he says,
I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10b)
Abundant life. So much life.
Jesus knows that God is not the God of death, but the God of Life.
When Jesus speaks with Martha, he says,
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
He doesn't just call Lazarus into life. It's who he is. He IS resurrection. He IS new life. He IS life stronger than death.
That's hard to wrap our minds around. It is easier to think about his voice.
The voice of the Good Shepherd calls the sheep
...out of darkness into light...
...out of death into life...
...out of sorrow into joy...
Jesus calls Lazarus out of the tomb so that Lazarus can live his old life fully.
After Jesus rises from the dead, so completely full of the life of God that he can never die again,
he calls Lazarus once more,
out of this old life,
out of death,
into eternal life with him.
Eternal, abundant, resurrected LIFE.
I wonder, does he only call Lazarus to new life?
Remember, at our Baptism, when the water filled with the Holy Spirit is poured over our heads?
What is the first word spoken?
Whose name is called?
Whose voice do we hear deep in our hearts?
I wonder, are we also called into eternal life with Jesus?