Devotion, March 30, 2020
Read John 11.1-44
April 19, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. My cousin, Peter DeMaster, was killed in this bombing. The trials of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were held in the Federal Courthouse a block from the Denver church I served during that time. Peter’s death and subsequent events became one of the markers that changed the lives of my family.
“Jesus wept” is the shortest passage in scripture. When confirmands are asked to recite a Bible passage from memory, they often use this one. The short passage, however, is a powerful one. It gives us a glimpse into the heart of God.
Lazarus is one of Jesus’ good friends. He dies while Jesus is, as we say, ‘out of town.’ Jesus is miles away from Bethany in the north part of Palestine. He receives word that Lazarus is ill, but does not travel to be with Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha for two more days. Knowing that Lazarus has died during these days, Jesus tells his disciples that it is time to travel to Bethany.
When Jesus gets to Bethany, Mary and Martha are upset with Jesus. As we read the end of the story in today’s scripture, we know that Jesus uses Lazarus’ death to teach about resurrection and the life-giving power of God.
What we also learn is how deeply Jesus felt about Lazarus and those around him. As Jesus was taken to Lazarus’ tomb, he became greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved, and he began to weep. In this short passage we know the compassion, empathy, and love that Jesus’ has for us in our suffering. No matter what we are experiencing, we know that Jesus feels what we are feeling.
We also know that it is never too late to receive the healing presence and love of Jesus. Four days after Lazarus died, Jesus calls forth life. As we picture Lazarus coming out of the tomb with cloth wrapped around him and possibly herbs and oils dripping from him, we come to know that with Jesus there is always the possibility of new life for us.
Four days after the Oklahoma City bombing this picture was taken of the clouds over Oklahoma City. It was a sign to many, that an angel - God’s messenger had come to comfort and to lead those who’s lives had been forever changed. It was a picture that brought comfort to my Aunt June and Uncle Joe in the days and years after Peter’s death. It was a tangible sign of God’s presence calling forth new life.
Whatever we are experiencing in these days, we can take comfort in knowing Jesus feels what we feel. Perhaps most importantly as our lives are forever changed by these times, Jesus is present in ways we may not yet know calling us forward to new life. As we continue to move toward Holy Week, may we know that out of the darkness of the tomb there is light which calls us forth to days ahead.
Eternal God, we give you thanks for Jesus who said he was the resurrection and the life. May we trust in his presence and in his work to bring good out of all things. Amen.