Lent and the promise of the resurrection

As the disciples followed Jesus day after day toward Jerusalem, they still couldn’t put two and two together on what Jesus had told them and didn’t do so until after his resurrection. He told them specifically three times that he would have to suffer many things at the hands of  the Jewish religious leaders and Romans, that he would be killed and that on the third day he would rise again. The only thing on their minds was the unimaginable idea that he would actually be killed. That was the end of all would be Messiahs. And to top it off that it could be on a cross, which likely would be the case (hadn’t Jesus told them of the need for any would be followers to take up their cross and follow him?). Their theology did not comprehend a Messiah who would die, much less one who would be nailed to a tree and thus under God’s curse. Nor did their theology understand a resurrection apart from that at the end of the age. And so they were rather lost.

As they neared the end of the journey, Jesus’ friend Lazarus was sick and died. It would seem that Jesus could have appeared before he died and most certainly would have healed him. Instead he waited, it would seem purposefully too long. The account is a breathtaking one, Martha’s faith evident, just as was Mary’s acceptance that this was their brother’s end apart from the resurrection to come at the end of the age. Here is Jesus’ exchange with Martha:

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.Do you believe this?”

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

After that we see what happened. Lazarus, who had been dead for four days was raised to life. Of course Lazarus was to die later. That wasn’t the resurrection for him which awaits the end with the full resurrection of creation in the new creation when Jesus returns and heaven and earth become one in him.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?”he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind manhave kept this man from dying?”

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

The disciples were near the end of their journey by this time. The first Holy Week would soon be upon them. And we know what happened at the end. Which holds promise for everyone who has put their faith in Jesus. Our full humanity which includes our bodies will be brought to life in and through our resurrected Lord.

 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

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