Ezechiel 37: 12-14 – Romans 8: 8-11 – John 11: 3-7, 17,20-27, 33b-45
Over this Season of Lent, I have suggests that we consider different examples, put before us in the Scriptures, of reminders to us of how God reaches out to us to be reconciled. The story of the raising of Lazarus which we have heard today represents, in my thinking, the effect of the restoration of a union with God as well as the difference this restoration makes in our lives and in the lives of others.
Consider the somewhat dramatic account of this event given to us by John. First, there is the matter of the delay. This ought immediately to alert us that there is special meaning to this event. Then, there is the decision to go, which is also confusing to the followers of Jesus. This is then followed by the meeting with Martha, the sister of Lazarus. Although she is disappointed in the delay, she expressed faith in Jesus. He could have done something if he had been there.
Jesus wanted to show to those who were willing to believe that he was more than a miracle-worker. Not only “I can give life,” but “I am Life.” He is the source of all renewal, the source of all re-creation. He is the one who can and will do away with whatever are the effects of sin now, and as they happen again. Thus he asks: “Do you believe this?” Martha’s response was that she believed in life after death. Jesus says “I am Life” now.
Jesus is not talking about some blissful existence in the future. He is saying that Life, as he intends it, is possible now. Hatred, injustice, prejudice, pride, self-centeredness, deceit, violence, back-biting, hurt, abuse – verbal, physical, sexual – all of these things which are effects of sin can be eradicated now in our lives and not just in some future existence It is the restored, resurrected, Life that can be lived now as Lazarus, who has been restored to life by Christ, will live now.
The Spirit of God spoken of by Ezechiel and the Spirit of Christ mentioned by St. Paul, is present and available now. It can directly affect our lives and the manner that we live with others, if we are willing to allow it to do so.
The celebration of Easter which is, after all, the end-point and reason for our Lenten thoughts and practices (however that celebration will take place this year), is the celebration of a firm re-commitment of faith. As we have recalled during this Lent how a loving God reaches out to us, we are to consider how we respond ,in truth, that we believe. Like Martha, are we willing to recognize that Jesus is our Life now and in the future? In our words, in the actions of our lives, truly alive in Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life, we are to renew our efforts to reflect a response of genuine faith in our good and gracious God.