The Fifth Sunday in Lent
March 26, 2023
John 11: 1-45
John 11 tells us of Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead, the last of the signs in John’s Gospel. It is a very straightforward account. There are no parables or hidden meanings to decipher. The story gives us clear examples of both Jesus’ humanity and His divinity. It foreshadows the cross. All in all, it’s an extremely powerful story.
John tells us that Jesus really loved this family comprised of Lazarus and sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus loved everyone, of course. We don’t like to think about the human Jesus being closer to some people than others, but He did have especially close relationships with certain people (perhaps just as He had a disciple whom we know He loved especially dearly). His deep love for this family is very human and we can relate to it.
Mary and Martha don’t understand why Jesus waited two days to come to Lazarus’ aid. They speak hurtful words to Jesus and actually blame the death on Jesus’ absence. Martha hints that a miracle might be in order, stating that God will surely give Jesus whatever He asks. Jesus sees both sisters weep and is deeply moved and troubled. He weeps as well. Again, we relate to this very human reaction.
The divine Christ raises Lazarus from the dead after four days in the tomb. He times this miracle so that the people witness the glory of God and know that He, Jesus, was sent by the Father to resurrect and give eternal life. He shows everyone that He has power over death; that it is indeed through belief in Him that we all shall live. Many people in Bethany believe that day after witnessing this incredible act, though Jesus’ enemies see Him as a threat and become all the more determined to stop Him. The cross is near. The raising of Lazarus illustrates the promise God makes to all of us through the sacrifice of His son.