Raising from the dead

John 11:1-45

John keeps wanting to bring us to the cross. Maybe its because seeing is believing or maybe its because John drips with so much imagery we go to places before we really get there. John also keeps up with giving us ways to live our life as Christians. This is because John is one of the latest written gospels. Today is not any different in challenging us on our walk and today we come face to face with the harder realities of this journey of faith.

First we are welcomed into encountering grief. This was true for John's community as they struggled with the death of the dream of Christ returning before the last disciple died. It didn't happen, so how do we live this faith out when what we expected doesn't happen. Its the same for Mary and Martha. They both start off with Jesus, "If you had been here Lazarus would not have died." They don't believe right now Jesus can make any difference. Lazarus is dead and gone to them. They have to deal with their grief and disappointment in Jesus.

How many times do we get disappointed by God. We ask for something to be taken care of and it doesn't happen. We expect a magic genie who will make all our wishes come true and we don't get it. Instead we have to face the hard road. We have to grieve. Being in this place of grieving is something we avoid. Having to be in those hard places means our life isn't perfect and this is true. In  Prince Caspian from The Chronicles of Narnia Caspian has believed all his life in the stories of the talking animals and the ancient kings and queens. He believes that he just has to call on the horn and they will instantly be saved. This is not how it works though. All of them have to go through the hard lesson that there are no magical answers. They have to grieve the loss of that power. Then when all is lost and they place their hope in a miracle Aslan shows up.

This is the second thing John is giving us here. A miracle. The day you wake up and your grief is not so severe, when you realize somehow Jesus is there, crying with you, being with you. It doesn't make everything magically better, but you are no longer alone in this. The miracle of our own surrender to something greater than ourselves happens and we can face the struggle. Addicts face this, in a way women who face escaping form abuse face this, and those who struggle with who they really are face this. At some point we all face this. How many years have we dreamed of a society which cultivates peace? How long have we asked for easy answers for problems and have had to surrender those ideas. We don't possess the answers, God does. Jesus at least walks the way with us, side by side because Jesus has stood at this grave and at his own.

Lastly we have the invitation. The invitation to stop standing around and live life. Jesus invites people to stop debating about whether this is good and to go and unbind Lazarus themselves. He is not the one who goes and does it, the crowd must. It is this way with all our earthly struggles on this journey of life. No one else can get rid of the bottle, pill or needle for us. No one else can rescue us from an abuser. No one else can help us to be truly ourselves. No one else can live our lives for us. We have to unbind ourselves from the things which hold us back from truly living.

This is all of John's call the woman at the well, at noon separated from her community. She is unbound to live all because of a talk with a Jew to a Samaritan. She goes and rejoins that community even though they should shun her still because of who she is. Then don't do that though because she dares to say it. She dares to admit this is the reason she returns because the man knows her. Same with the man born blind. He knows he was blind, yet he doesn't take the fear of being thrown out of the religious community as a threat, there is another community. Jesus healed him and it is from God, not for evil. He dares to speak up to those who would make his healing less than it was, a miracle. He dares to live. The same is true in Lazarus' story. What is your story? Is there something you need to unbind to live greatly into who God made you? Is there a fear you need to lay aside, is there grief you need to work through, or is there a healing which needs to happen? Come forth and live.