Monday, 7 April 2014

On Things Not Being Over: Thoughts on John 11.1-45

John 11.40 Jesus said . . . "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
Dry, dead, bones which have been stripped of all semblance of life as far as our human eyes can see rattle together as God’s Word is spoken over them in prophecy (Ez 37). Mortal human bodies like ours, which are dead because of sin, are given life through the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead and which dwells in you and me (Ro 8.10-11)—the same Spirit that rattled those bones together.

When the God and Father of our LORD Jesus Christ is involved, no matter how dry the bones or how sin-dead we think we are, things are never over.

Think about Mary and Martha in the gospel. They probably helped to wash their brother’s body, dressed him in his grave clothes and laid him out. As far as they, and their family, were concerned it was all over for Lazarus. He was dead. Then Jesus came on the scene.
v33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus began to weep. 
Notice how Jesus behaved when he came upon these friends who thought it was all over. He shared their grief. Know that He shares ours and is in it with us.
v37 . . . some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 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 is, in effect, saying to Martha, “Ignore everything you’ve ever been taught and all experience you’ve had of death and endings and things being over—everything you’ve learned about the way the world works. It looks like it’s over. Roll away the stone.”
v40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" 
Do I want to see the glory of God in St Barnabas? In Medicine Hat? If so, roll the stone away from where my fears and uncertainties and other dead stuff is stored.
v43 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." 
Who is Jesus calling out today? Who’s Lazarus for us? Is he calling my church community out into a new lease on life? Is Jesus saying “Unbind her, and let her go. I’ve got things planned for this church." Are some of us crouched back there in the tomb, afraid to come out, bound by our fears and wraths and anxieties and sorrows? We’ll need our brothers and sisters to encourage us—maybe even come in and get us—and help us to get the things that bind us off. And look at the results:
v45 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 
The LORD is saying, even when we think it’s over—when it feels, looks, smells as if it’s over—even when we think it’s stone-cold dead and in the grave. It’s not. With God, it’s never over. It’s always new—always becoming.
v40 Jesus said . . . "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"