Friday, November 8, 2013

God has helped

John 11:1  Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2  Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3  So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4  But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
Joh 11:32  When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33  When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34  He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35  Jesus began to weep. 36  So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37  But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38  Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39  Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days." 40  Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 41  So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." 43  When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

Lazarus is Jesus’ friend. His name means “God has helped”[1] and this story speaks to this. Luke tells us that Lazarus gets ill and dies; then he is brought back to life by Jesus.  Key to this story is the teaching that “God has helped.” This is always the truth of life: God has not abandoned us like some clock that is wound up and left   to our own devices.[2] Instead God accompanies us through life.... and death.

Those who follow Jesus choose to believe that death is a temporary state that leads to new life. And that we do not move through life, death, life alone. The One Who created us accompanies us on this journey.   

Ordinary 32 / Pentecost +25
54 A Resurrection People
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 329.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

[1] Lazarus is derived from the Hebrew אלעזר, Elʿāzār (Eleazar) meaning "God has helped."
[2] This argument was developed by William Paley in his 1802 book Natural Theology.

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