Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” (John 11:1 – 6)

It is my understanding that in the days the followed the very initial outbreak for Novel Corona Virus (to give its complete name) the fear and worry was downplayed because, well . . . . no one wants to sound an alarm for something that may not, should not, or not wanted to be alarming. History will decide whether that was a correct or incorrect response. Actually, history may have already spoken on that.

“Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” (Verses 7 – 10)

This was Jesus way of saying, according to the gospel of John, that his ministry still had to be completed; but that the future may bring dark times.

“After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” (Verses 11 – 15)

Thomas meant Jesus – that they would die with Jesus. If one knows the outcome of this story, as I assume you do beloved reader, one would not worry. But if you are new to this story, it does sound ominous. Was Jesus walking into danger? Would Jesus be stoned and killed? Would the disciples be caught up in Jesus’ troubles? And what could be done for Lazarus anyway?

In our modern world there are also people who are facing health dangers and death. The question hanging over this situation, if I can borrow some biblical language, is humanity walking in the daylight yet, or have we passed over into darkness?

“When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” (Verses 16 – 27)

As readers of this scripture, we cannot be sure what Martha expected Jesus to do. She knew and believed that if Jesus had been there, he could have healed her brother. But what might she have expected Jesus to do now? Did she discern that Lazarus might be raised up back to live as she knew and experienced it?

I have to tell you, beloved reader, it is a little daunting using these scripture passages in our current context. We live not in an age where miracles and resurrection back to life as we know it is possible. Well, I guess that is just as true for Martha and Mary, and Lazarus for that matter. What we modern Christians know is that the life to come will be richer, fuller, and much much longer than this one. Sometimes, however, I wonder if we truly grasp the magnitude of that. But, let us continue the story.

“When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.” (Verses 28 – 33)

If it is consolation to you, beloved reader, I tell you that the Divine has wept and will weep at each death from this virus. As the Divine has wept at all deaths of humanity. But within that weeping is the Divine’s knowledge that each soul can be ushered into heaven. I say can, because Jesus the Messiah’s death has made that possible.

“He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” (Verses 34 – 36)

Jesus wept knowing full well what he was going to do. But he was still moved by their grieving.

“But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” (Verse 37)

Of course there will always be some who cannot, do not, and will not understand what the purposes and plans of the Divine are. They are (in my opinion) those who should truly be mourned for their lack of insight and understanding.

“Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (Verses 38 – 40)

So here is our answer to one question – Martha did not realize the extent that Jesus would act.

“So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he 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.” (Verses 41 – 45)

Three days ago I talked about Ezekiel’s prophesying that resulted in bones being re-animated, and being breathed with life. This might have been an allegory to tell the people of Israel that they should continue to have hope. Or maybe the bones truly did rise and rattle. Two days ago I tackled and talked about Paul’s division between body and spirit, one being greater than the other. Lazarus was raised both in body and spirit, which would give up hope for the life to come, beloved reader. Yesterday we witnessed that hope being announced some time and distance after Ezekiel, but a prelude to the scriptural story we heard/read today. And here we are, beloved reader, living in fear but looking forward with hope. Accepting that there may not be healing of the flesh but putting on faith in the healing and re-animating of the spirit. What tremulous times we live in; but I remind you most assuredly, we do not hope in vain! Selah!