Reflection on John 11: 1-45
Every three years we circle back to this story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. This is the week when we picture Martha, rushing to meet Jesus, who waited a full two days before setting out to Bethany after hearing the news of Lazarus’ illness.
They greet each other, and then, immediately, Martha’s words of indictment: Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. That’s the killer, the stab to the heart, because it strikes so close to home. How many losses have we suffered, crying Lord, if you had heard my prayers, this death would not have happened?
My experience of grief is, first, we have to forgive Jesus for not being there to save our loved one from death. Second, we acknowledge him next to us at the tomb, weeping. Third, we find ourselves upheld by Martha’s words, “even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” And then the journey of making sense of our grief, and our faith, begins.
There is something holy about grief. We enter into a sacred space, where outlines of our loved one begin to fill in, and we know them better in death than in life.
Those who identify as agnostic or atheist will read this story and ask, “Did Jesus save your loved one from death? I was at the funeral.” Those who cling to their baptism, and their faith, will bring Martha to memory and say, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ.”
It is the Christ who journeys with us in all the years after loss, planting in us resurrection seeds.
Has deep grief drawn you closer to Christ?
Kathy McGovern ©2023