Archives: John 12:1-11

Monday: Jesus Gathers Strength

“Continue your loving kindness to those who know you, and your favor to those who are true of heart.”

These are words from our psalm for today, and they are words about you.

“Those who know you,” and “those who are true of heart.” Those are words about anyone who is faithfully reaching out to God, but they are particularly true of anyone who made it to church on Monday of Holy Week.

For some of you, attending church every day of Holy Week may be a long-established practice that is a cornerstone of your faith life.

For others, it may be the first year you’ve tried to do it, and don’t worry, Jesus loves you even if you don’t make it to every service!

But what is common to everyone in this room is that you have set aside this time to say, “What happens this week is important. What Jesus is doing in these days matters to me. And I am willing to be open to the intensity of sharing with him the last week of his life.”

That is a bold spiritual commitment, and I’m so glad we’re making it together.

I’m so glad we’re taking this journey as a community.

Frankly I doubt any of us could make it to Sunday if we tried to do it alone.

These are the days in which the world is changed, and we survive them by living together as a Body, supporting and upholding each other as we struggle to face the reality of what will happen on Friday.

This is what Jesus is facing as well.

He has returned to the little house in Bethany, where he can spend some time with his oldest and dearest friends.

He, too, is gathering strength from his community.

He may not know exactly how quickly his death is approaching, but he can feel the noose beginning to tighten.

Just yesterday the crowds surged around him in adulation, but it was only a cover for the forces of darkness that are gathering around him.

And so he goes to his friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus.

Did they know this was goodbye? Continue reading

Monday: Preparing for the Day of His Burial

We return as we always do on Monday of Holy Week to the little house in Bethany.

Ears still ringing from the raucous crowds thronging the streets of Jerusalem yesterday on Palm Sunday, perhaps our own voices are hoarse from shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David!”

Our unspoken hope was that if we proclaimed it loudly enough, maybe this year we won’t hear our own voices a scant week later shouting “Crucify him!”

Jesus knows what is coming, and he comes here to the house in Bethany for strength.

Perhaps we can do the same.

But as always with Jesus, and especially during Holy Week, there is a dose of keen insight awaiting us, insight about our selves and our motives that we might have been happier without.

Jesus draws strength from his dearest friends: Martha with her untiring service, practical and steadfast, Mary with her extravagant devotion, intense and demonstrative, and Lazarus who loves with neither deeds nor words, but his simple, quiet presence.

Martha speaks with her hands, Mary speaks with her tears, and Lazarus speaks with a small smile and the love shining out of his eyes as he sits at table with Jesus for the last time.

The goodbye, unspoken in any direct terms, vibrates in the room with palpable intensity.

Is Jesus going to come to your house tonight?

Are you his trusted confidante, someone who loves him not for the miracles and the prophecies of his kingship but for himself?

Are you his companion at meals uncounted?

Have you shared table fellowship with him, times of laughter and feasting, over weeks and months and years of friendship?

Has he raised you from the dead? Continue reading

Monday: Who Are You at the House in Bethany?

Jesus has come to our house tonight.

He has less than a week to live, and he has chosen to spend time with us.

Why?

What can we offer him?

It depends on who we are in this story in the gospel of John.

First of all, the reason I say Jesus has come to our house tonight is because we are all Lazarus. We were baptized in the death of Christ and raised to new life in Christ.

Just like Lazarus, we died in our sin and Jesus brought us back to new life.

So place yourself in that symbolic reality, because there is more than one part to play in the little house in Bethany tonight, and it is very easy to slip from one role to another. Continue reading

Monday: Saying Goodbye to Lazarus

I wonder what Jesus was thinking as he ate dinner at his friends’ house in Bethany tonight.

By candlelight he shares simple food with Mary, Martha and Lazarus, this set of siblings who love him so dearly and so differently from each other.

Mary, with her extravagant gestures and adoring heart.

Martha, whose love is made of duty and service but is fierce and bright nonetheless.

And Lazarus, quiet and steady, a man who does his job and cares for his sisters, but got sick one day when Jesus was out traveling and preaching.

Jesus and Lazarus never got to say goodbye to each other when Lazarus was dying.

They never had a conversation about whether Jesus was the Son of God.

They were just friends.

Lazarus and Jesus loved each other without having to say it, and Lazarus lay on his death bed knowing Jesus would make sure his sisters were taken care of when he died, and feeling sad he wouldn’t get to see his friend one more time.

Lazarus, a regular guy who loved his sisters and his friend, who got sick and died, and then came back from the dead because he believed.

They’re back in the same situation again. Continue reading