Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lazarus: walking dead or evidence of God's power? John 12:1-8

Lent 5c
2000 years ago people were talking about a man who'd been raised from the dead in Judea. He was dead and buried. He had a friend who could have done something about it. A friend who could have saved him and kept him alive; but his friend stayed away. The man was from Bethany, a little village not even an hour's walk over the Mount of Olives from the temple mountain in Jerusalem.
The dead man was called Lazarus. He and his sisters Martha and Mary became a friends of Jesus, the rabbi from Nazareth. When Jesus reached Bethany he went to the grave where Lazarus had been buried and he wept.
Rising from the grave after 4 days, after the stench of decay had come over his body was big most especially for Lazarus and his family. In the days after Lazarus' rose people kept talking about Lazarus being dead and what Jesus had done making him live again. Lazarus in flesh and blood was evidence of God's power at work in the world through the person of Jesus.
Lazarus life was the evidence of God's power. He was exhibit A of the resurrection. And everybody knew it.
Jesus was now a beloved guest now in the home of Lazarus. Martha and Mary walked under cover of death and despair for 4 days. Now they walked in a new light. Now they were witnesses to God's power.
People do surprising things in response to unexpected grace. God's love was given freely and Lazarus rose from the dead. Now Mary, perhaps overcome with emotion, began to cover Jesus feet with a pound of nard, a rich smelling ointment. She wiped them with her hair.
Mary responded extravagantly to God's grace. Mary knew as she lived again with her once dead brother that God had power. She knew that Lazarus was alive. Lazarus' resurrection was a gift beyond measure. It was an act of God's grace that was undeserved. And now she showed her gratitude to Jesus anointing his feet with a pound of nard.
Mary learned about God's grace witnessing her brothers resurrection and welcoming him back home. When you discover that God's grace is truly a gift, not a right that you have earned or a substance that you can purchase because you are virtuous or because you are doing so many good things you truly learn the power of God to change you and the world.

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