Body and Blood of Christ



John 11:1-44
                

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha… So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."  But when Jesus heard it, he said, "This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him." The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right." Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."  …When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days… many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. … Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world." When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. … When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply  moved. He said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 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 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 looked upward and said, "Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me." 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." 

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The Raising of Lazarus

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The healing of Lazarus is a dramatization of the theme that Jesus is life.” “Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus,” Just two miles from Jerusalem, Bethany is on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. It was a place to stay when he came to Jerusalem, there was always a welcome and a meal. There is a sense of warmth and closeness to the family. They were simply Jesus’ friends.

Lazarus is a symbol of all whom Jesus loves. Just as he gives his life for Lazarus, so he will give his life for his followers. As the healing of the man born blind manifested God’s glory so Lazarus’ sickness and death is for God’s glory. Jesus gives him back physical life as a sign of eternal life. The miracle will glorify Jesus not because of the praise it brings but because it will lead to his death and glorification. In John’s Gospel the raising of Lazarus is the cause of his death. A meeting of the Sanhedrin is called (John 10:38-53.) which takes the decision, Jesus must die.

It was sufficient for Martha and Mary to send the message: “Lord he whom you love is ill.” Jesus understood, but he waited. The disciples were troubled. How often they had received hospitality in Bethany! Then, after two days he said: “let us go to him.”

The visit to Bethany takes place at a time of growing opposition. Already they had attempted to stone him. The disciples sense danger. Thomas courageously declares: "Let us also go that we may die with him." Jesus tells them: Lazarus is dead. The purpose of the journey is not just to console the family but to give glory to God and strengthen the belief of the disciples.
Lazarus had been dead four days. On day one, the message was brought, on days two and three he waited, on day four, he traveled to Bethany. In the East, burial normally took place on the day a person died. It appears Lazarus died on the day Jesus received word of his illness.

Martha reproached Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She declares her belief in the Resurrection: "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus then makes a momentous statement: "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" Martha said: "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world."

Mary arrives accompanied by a group of Jews. She repeats the words of Martha: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." She and her companions weep inconsolably. Her arrival triggers two emotions in Jesus. He is angry and asks where they have laid Lazarus, and breaks into tears. His anger may be explained by the lack of faith in Mary and her companions, the perception on their part of the finality of death.

The tomb is opened. Jesus prays to the Father. Then he commands: "Lazarus, come out!" He came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said: “unbind him, and let him go". “Many of the Jews seeing what Jesus did, believed in him.” What is crucial is that Jesus has given physical life back to Lazarus as a sign of his power to give eternal life on earth, a promise that on the last day he will raise the dead.

The story of Lazarus comes at the end of Jesus ministry, it announces his death. To us, he announces the good news: “I am the  life.” “Everyone who believes in me will never die.”

The other Gospels do not record this miracle. One explanation is that Peter was not present. It is Thomas, not Peter, who suggests that they should go up to Jerusalem and die with Jesus. It is also possible that the other Gospels omit anything that would endanger the family at Bethany just two miles from Jerusalem, living in the shadow of the Sanhedrin.

When Luke mentions Martha and Mary he omits the name of the village. Matthew and Mark mention the anointing at Bethany but without giving the names of Jesus hosts. John, written later, is not bound by such constraints.


Oisín Feore

 

 

 

Quill Pen

Jesus

This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists

The Raising of Lazarus

Unfolding the Story of jesus

Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries

Unfolding the story of jesus