EZEKIEL 37:12-14 | ROMAN 8:8-11 | JOHN 11:1-45
Jesus, weeping, speaks three powerful commands today. “Take away the stone!” “Lazarus, come out!” Untie him and let him go!” Let’s consider why Jesus is weeping.
There was a family he loved very much. They were much more than disciples; they were his adopted family. They didn’t live very far from Jerusalem, so Jesus often stayed with them when he was teaching in the temple or attending the Jewish festivals.
He began to be upset and weepy as soon as he got the message that Lazarus was ill. When he told his disciples that the illness wouldn’t end in death, he already knew that Lazarus had died. There was more to it, though, something more profound. Jesus was weeping because Lazarus was soul dead.
Take note of Ezekiel’s prophecy. “O my people, I will open your graves and have you rise from them.” He extended this prophecy to an image of a field covered with sun-bleached bones. Israel was soul dead. People were walking around; but inside they were dead. The spirit of God, God’s breath of life, wasn’t in them. Paul warns us of that same death in his letter today. “You are not in the flesh; on the contrary, you are in the Spirit. If only the Spirit dwells in you.”
We all need to have God’s breath of life in us. If we don’t, we’ll be like the people of Israel, sunbleached bones scattered across a field, or like Lazarus, entombed, imprisoned, breath-less.
Each of us is being invited this fifth Sunday of Lent to hear, to really listen to, the Lord’s words. “Take away the stone!” “Lazarus, come out!” “Untie him and let him go!” What do each of those phrases mean to you personally?
If you heard Jesus shouting a command to take away the stone, what would he be referring to? If Jesus called your name and cried “Come out,” what would he mean? If Jesus cried out to untie you – to let you go, what would happen to you?
Try asking yourself these questions as a meditation today. Begin by praying these phrases from Psalm 130, take your time as you read them. Trust the Spirit to guide you through the meditation. Don’t be afraid to feel whatever the Spirit evokes in you. This is an active prayer. Let the Spirit put flesh on your bones.
Lord, out of the depths I cry to you,
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ear be attentive to my voice in supplication.
I trust in the Lord; my soul trusts in his word.
More than sentinels wait for the dawn,
let Israel wait for the Lord.
For with the Lord is kindness and
with him is plenteous redemption;
and he will redeem Israel from all their iniquities.