Twentieth Day of Lent

John 11:17-27

“After he said this, Jesus went on speaking to them. ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep,’ he said. ‘But I am going there to wake him up’” John 11:11.

“This time he/she just went too far!” We have heard this statement, or a similar one, made in many situations. It could be about a politician and their antics, a coach and their temper, a student and their disrespect, or a close friend that has broken confidence. John 11 describes the death and resurrection of Lazarus; it was in this snippet of history that Jesus “went too far.” Consider some of the following from this account:

  • In Chapter 10 we know that Jesus’ opponents had tried to take him but he “escaped their grasp” and went to the Jordan River area where John had been. In going to Bethany, Jesus was going to a dangerous place and his disciples questioned why he would go back to the area where some tried to stone him (v. 8).
  • In spite of the fact that Jesus knew about Lazarus’ condition he delayed his arrival. Martha, Lazarus’ sister is clear that “if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (v. 21).
  • In the reassurance that Lazarus would rise again (v. 24), Jesus allows Martha to state her firm belief in the ultimate resurrection on the “last day.” Jesus, however, refuses to accept such a broad statement. He identifies himself as being “the resurrection and the life” (v. 25). Martha, the woman most remembered as the irritated sister in the kitchen, makes one of the great affirmations of all Scripture when she replies, “I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is come into the world” (v. 27).

In each of the above, Jesus goes too far. He pushes the envelope of faith. He puts his followers into dangerous settings. He refuses to follow the timetable most desired by his followers. He extracts a deeper understanding of faith from his followers. In the end, this passage, the raising of Lazarus is the tipping point for his opponents and in the last portion of the chapter we see the religious leaders determined to see Jesus die.

In this season of Lent we have the opportunity to reflect on our journey with Christ. Will we allow him to push our understanding of faith?  Would we dare allow him to put us into uncomfortable or dangerous settings?  Can we allow Jesus as Lord to work things out in his time and in his way?  As with his original followers this call may bring others in our relationships to say Jesus has gone too far. The result of Jesus going too far meant life for his friend Lazarus but also a deeper life for his disciples and Martha; that is the good news of Jesus going too far.

Jeff Anderson
Faith Covenant Church
Winnipeg, MB