“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for 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?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with 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 he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.””
Before coming to the advent season, we had been looking at the seven miracles of John’s gospel. We had been looking specifically at what each of these miracles is pointing us to, because each of these miracles is included as a sign pointing us to something. But, what is it pointing to? What is it revealing?
There are four biographies of Jesus in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Especially Matthew and Mark, but also Luke, have many similarities and so are referred to as the synoptic gospels. But John is something completely different. John was crafting his account of the life and works of Jesus in a particular way so that we could see particular things. While Jesus did many miracles, John records these seven to be signs, signposts, pointing to something, revealing something to us about Jesus and his kingdom.
If you remember the sixth miracle in John, about Jesus healing the man born blind, some of the disciples were far more interested in assigning blame for the mans affliction than they were in helping the man. They were busy figuring out who had sinned, the man or his parents, that he had been born blind. Not sure what sins the man could have committed
So now we come to the raising of Lazarus, but before we get into this raising, let’s start with the backstory. This is the way to faithfully read scripture, not to pull bits and pieces of verses out of context, but to see them in full, in their context. This is especially true of the gospels, because they are in narrative form. In other words, the gospels are telling a story…
So before we get to Jesus standing in front of that tomb, let’s back up a little. The story has a number of characters in it, including Martha, Mary and Lazarus, two sisters and a brother. The thing about these three, is that had become
But outside of those twelve, Jesus had
We weren’t created for isolation, we were created for friendship and community. So by all means, be like Jesus. Have friends. But choose your friends wisely, make them good friends. Have friends that will build you up in faith, encourage you, and challenge you when you’re dropping the ball. That’s a real friend.