Today is the first Sunday in Lent. Lent is a time of reflection and preparation as we journey towards Easter. It’s a period of 40 days, excluding Sundays, and takes us right up to Good Friday. The colour we use in Lent is purple, so you’ll see that colour present in the sanctuary area and in my stole.
On Thursday morning at Drop Ins I talked about why we have pancakes on the day before Lent begins. We do so to use up all the special ingredients in the pantry because Lent is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer. Lots of people give up something for Lent such as coffee or chocolate, those extravagant things; I tend to do the opposite and take up something that helps me get closer to God and think of others more.
So, as we begin the journey to Easter, Jesus is today continuing the journey to Jerusalem that will end up with him on the cross. Over the next 4 Sundays we will hear and consider the events leading up to that amazing Easter Sunday morning when Jesus rose again.
The story of Lazarus is a strange one. Typical of John’s writing there is more than one layer of meaning within this story. There are also questions, why didn’t Jesus go immediately to Martha and Mary when he heard that their brother was ill? Surely, he would have been able to heal him? Obviously, he cared for Lazarus and his family.
For me there are some important words in this story. The shortest verse in the Bible is here – Jesus wept – and this tells so much about the person of Jesus, but still why the delay?
Through the writing of John it is Martha who gives us the important declaration that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. This is the Martha that in other gospels gets angry because Mary doesn’t help her when Jesus comes to visit them.
So, this telling is another sign that John gives us to point toward Jesus as the Messiah. The I am statement that comes with this passage is “I am the resurrection and the life….” And from that place of death comes Lazarus pointing to the glory and power of Jesus Christ, Messiah and Son of God.
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