Scripture: John 12:1-8
Let us pray:
Now, O Lord, calm us into quietness. Prepare us to listen to what the Spirit has to say to us today. Amen.
Today is the fifth Sunday of Lent. Next week is Palm Sunday and Holy Week, followed by Easter. It has been written by some that in order for us to fully experience and understand the grace that has been extended unto us, we have to travel the road that Jesus walked. We have to go to Jerusalem and hear the crowds call out “Hosanna to the Son of David!” as Jesus comes into town. We have to hear the crowds turn nasty on the night of his arrest after the Last Supper, when he is dragged before Pilate and they shout “Crucify him!” We have to travel the road to Golgotha, the place of the skull, and see Jesus hanging on the cross giving up his life. We have to follow Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus as they take the lifeless body of Jesus and place it in a tomb.
It has been written by some that we cannot fully understand his death on our behalf until we sit outside the tomb with Mary and weep for love and sadness, despair after hope. From here, the journey cross-wards and tomb-wards begins.
Let’s look at this passage from John again. There, seated at the table, is living hope that all is not lost. Lazarus, the man with two lives, sits conversing with fellow disciples at this feast to honor Jesus. Judas, the one who must deliver Jesus up in order for God’s divine purpose to be fulfilled, and Mary, who even anoints Jesus for death while he is yet living, all play a part.
But this is John’s Gospel, so you can be absolutely certain that each character, each gesture, each symbolic act is multi-layered both for the time in which it occurred, the time for which it was written, and even for our time. Let’s touch on just a small bit of this symbolism for a moment…and like the children earlier, wonder a bit at the mystery.
“In the figure of Judas, Christian discipleship is God’s making righteous or “justification” of those who have rejected and betrayed Jesus. In the figure of Mary, Christian discipleship is an act of adoration and of gratitude to the one who alone is holy. In her silence, Mary draws our attention not to herself but to the one she anoints. But the grace of Jesus? The grace of Jesus includes them both, both the faithful and the unfaithful.”
And then of course, what about Lazarus? Yes, what about this man who was dead and buried in a tomb only to be shouted back to life four days later to live again? Using our three kinds of question asking from last week, The informational answer is, the brother of Mary and Martha, and a beloved friend of Jesus – in today’s text, sitting at the table in his second life, eating and speaking with the other disciples. An analytical answer is, he is the living symbol of Christ’s own declaration to Martha: “I am the resurrection and the life. Do you believe this?” he is also the living example foreshadowing what Christ himself will undergo. A more personal question might be: How like Lazarus am I?
 George W. Stroup, “Theological Perspective, John 12:1-8” in Feasting on the Word – Year C, ed. David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2009). Accordance edition hyper-texted and formatted by OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.0
Question for Reflection: Who is Lazarus?
Morning Prayer: I wake this day mindful of the Light within all light, Soul behind all souls. Strengthen me this day to do your work. Be still and aware.
Evening Prayer: O Lord, in the darkness of night, in the stillness that surrounds us in the unknown depths of our being, we pause to listen and take our rest. Be still and aware.
Prayer song of the week: “Be Still and Know” Hymnbook #414 Repeat several times