March 22, 2011

Wednesday, Day Thirteen

            The Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 56, Genesis 27:46-28:22, 1 Corinthians 6:12
Evening - Psalm 65 and 67, Jeremiah 5:10-19, John 11:1-16

John 11:1-16
Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick.  When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.  Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.  When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was.  Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again.  His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.   But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.  These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.  Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well.  Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep.  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.  And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.  Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

            Commentary

John 11 finds Jesus going back into Judea.  He had left the area to stay in Perea, east of the Jordan River, though He travelled widely during this time, making trips to Galilee and Judea.  Much of this time was spent teaching the Twelve, but He also took time to preach and teach the multitudes that followed Him.  In today's reading, He crosses again into Judea to raise Lazarus, showing that He has power over death.  This is an important step on Christ's journey to the cross.  He has already said that He lays His life down of His own accord and no man can take it from Him (see Jn. chapter 10).  Now He shows His power over physical death.  There is no doubt about Lazarus' death (11:14). Our Lord waited for him to die before going to him because He wanted to show His authority one more time before going to the cross. In a sense, Lazarus represents the spiritual condition of all people apart from Christ.  We are as dead toward God as Lazarus was toward this world.  And we are as unable to give life to our souls as Lazarus was to give life to his flesh.  Christ came to give us life by laying down His own for ours.  In another sense, the raising of Lazarus is proof that Jesus lays down His life of His own free will.  If He can raise Lazarus, He can keep His own flesh alive, and no human treachery or power is able to take His life from Him.  This will be important for His disciples to remember when He is dead and in the tomb.  He gave His life. He allowed this to happen to Him.  This was an intentional act on His part.  We must never read the raising of Lazarus without also remembering the tenth chapter of John's Gospel.

            Devotional Thoughts

What do we do in Lent? Lent is simply a time of seeking God.  It is simply a time of intentional holy living.  This requires that we turn away from sin and turn to God.  We generally call this process repentance.  We cannot repent of sin unless we first find the sin in our lives.  We find sin through an intense process of self examination.  We simply put our lives under the microscope of God’s word to discern where we are missing the mark.  Once we find our sin, we must admit it.  The Bible's term for this is confession, which simply and profoundly means to agree with God.  In confession we agree with God about our sin.  We agree that we are sinners.  We agree that we have sin in our lives.  We don’t cover it up.  We don’t ignore it.  We admit it is there, and we face it.  Without this, repentance is impossible, and without repentance we have no part in Christ.