5th Sunday of Lent (Ages 6-9): The Voice That Calls To Life
John 11.3-7, 17, 20-27, 33b-45
(full reading: John 11.1-45)
Listen to the Gospel and Reflection
In the Gospel for this Sunday, the fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear about a miraculous thing that Jesus does. He has a family of close friends, two sisters and a brother—Martha, Mary and Lazarus. 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 grieves. He is full of sorrow because he loves Lazarus. That happens to us when someone dies—we grieve. We become 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 dies, people anoint the body with beautiful smelling oils and spices, and wrap it gently in cloths. They do this to show how much they loved that person. They place the wrapped body in a tomb-—a cave made out of rock—and roll a large stone over the opening. The stone keeps the smell of death inside the tomb. It keeps out animals from disturbing the tomb. The stone also keeps out light and air, but that does not matter because the dead do not need to see or to breathe. There is no life in the tomb.
“Take away the stone.”
The people do not think this is a good plan.
Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.”
The stone keeps the smell of death inside. They do not want to move it.
But Jesus says,
“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone.
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.
This might remind us 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 full of sorrow. In the tomb there is only darkness and death. Jesus knows that God is not the God of darkness and death, but the God of Light and Life.
When Jesus speaks with Martha, he says,
“I am the resurrection and the life.”
Jesus does not just call Lazarus into life. Life is who he is. Jesus IS Resurrection. Jesus IS Abundant Life. Jesus IS Life Stronger Than Death.
That is hard to wrap our minds around.
It is much easier to think about his voice.
The voice of the Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls the sheep
...out of darkness into light...
...out of death into life...
...out of sorrow into joy.
His voice is Stronger Than Death.
Jesus calls Lazarus by name, out of the tomb so that Lazarus can live fully his old life again.
After Jesus rises from the dead—so completely full of the life of God that he can never die again—he calls Lazarus by name once more,
out of this old life,
out of death,
into eternal life with him.
Eternal, abundant, resurrected LIFE.
We wonder, does Jesus only call Lazarus by name to new life?
Remember, at our Baptism, when the water filled with the Holy Spirit is poured over our head?
Before the priest or deacon says,
...I baptize you in the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit
what is the first word spoken?
Our ears hear the priest or deacon's voice calling our name. But our heart? Whose voice, stronger than death, does our heart hear, calling our name?
We have to wonder...
are we also called by name into eternal life with Jesus?