Fifth Sunday of Lent - Gospel Meditations and Prayers for Lent
Sunday April 6th, 2014
Fifth Sunday of Lent
Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 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." Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
So Lazarus has died. But Jesus says to Martha, "Your brother will rise again." (23) Easy to say, but when exactly will he rise again? Martha gives a faithful answer: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." (24) Sure, Martha. But right now, something is happening--has happened--which is about to give totally new meaning to that truth. Are you ready?
Jesus' next words are unexpected, incredible, stunning: "I am the resurrection and the life." (25) Resurrection is no longer off in the distant future. Neither is it something impersonal that is "done" to us. Resurrection is here, right now. How come? Because Jesus is here. Martha, you mentioned "the last day." Guess what? Now Jesus is here, it is already the last day. The future has invaded the present. And, as Lesslie Newbigin puts it, resurrection is no longer just an idea, but "has a living face and a name." Martha, meet your friend, Resurrection.
Jesus, what on earth does this mean? He spells it out: "Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live." (25-26) What is about to happen with Lazarus is almost an acted parable: Lazarus believed in Jesus, Lazarus died, Lazarus will live. There--in Lazarus' resurrection there and then--is the proof of Jesus' words. The last day is here. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life right now. Wow.
Then he challenges Martha: "Do you believe this?" (27) "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world." That's a bit general, isn't it, Martha? Can't you guess what he's about to do? Even if it enters her mind--and surely it does--he doesn't dare to say it. But she trusts.
We don't know what Jesus will do in any given situation. But we do know that he is "the resurrection and the life": he is the power of God to bring life out of death. And like Martha, we can only trust, and wait, to see what this man who calls himself the Resurrection and the Life will do next.
Jesus, you are the Resurrection and the Life.
Thank you that you bring life out of death.
Help us trust you,
even when we don't know what is going to happen next.
Dr. John Bowen
John is the Director of two Wycliffe College ministries: the Institute of Evangelism and the new Wycliffe Serves! For sixteen years, he taught evangelism at the college. John and his wife Deborah have two adult children and four grandchildren.