Resources - 5th Sunday of Lent
A: John 11:1-45 - The raising of Lazarus - 5th Sunday of Lent
again we have a long reading from John that is overflowing with wisdom and love.
We also hear another "I Am" statement to add to the growing list - "I
am the good shepherd; I am the bread of life; last week, I am the light of the
world" and today "I am the resurrection and the life." We know
that it is from the Hebrew for 'I AM' that a name for God, YHWH, was derived,
so we are in no doubt that Jesus is God. Today's passage is about reiterating
the reality that Jesus is God and that is one of the reasons why Jesus waited
for a couple of days after hearing that Lazarus was sick before he started on
the journey. Jesus wanted everyone to be sure that Lazarus was dead and buried
before he arrived to bring him back to life. And just is case we did not understand,
Jesus speaks plainly and states that "Lazarus is dead."
arrival we hear Martha's incredible profession of faith - knowing her brother
was dead and in deep mourning, and yet believing in Jesus and that the source
of the power in Jesus is God. Jesus will demonstrate that God has given him power
over life and death. We hear from Jesus some of the most reassuring words from
the Gospels "whoever lives and believes in me will never die" a favourite
passage read at numerous funerals. Jesus left what was considered to be safe country
to travel to Bethany which is only 2 miles from Jerusalem. His disciples realise
the danger and state they are ready to die with him.
is ironic that Jesus greatest 'sign', the raising of Lazarus with the gift of
life, leads to the decisive act of unbelief, the formal decision that Jesus must
"die for the people" (11:1-57). There was so much belief in Jesus from
the people that it was decided that this outburst must cease. Jesus openly displays
very deep emotion in this passage "He was greatly disturbed in spirit and
deeply moved" the Greek translation states "groaned in his spirit, and
troubled in himself" because of his love for Lazarus. The good news for us
is that we are loved to that same extent because through our Baptism we are sister
and brother of Jesus. We too have died in the tomb and been raised to eternal
life through Baptism and that is why our funerals are experiences of love and
ANGLE: Giving Life
once do we read or hear about Jesus killing anyone or encouraging it. Of hurting
anyone and encouraging it. It's not part of his mission, his assignment, his philosophy.
He is busy giving life to people. Always giving life. A few weeks ago through
water and words at a well. Last week, through action and giving eye sight. This
week by raising Lazarus to life. Life giving and life promoting. For who? For
a Samaritan - an outsider, the blind man - a disabled person, Lazarus - an old
dead man, and in a few weeks for all of us. No one is unworthy of the life giving
of Jesus. Jesus spends his time giving life to all. Which asks the question: why
do so many people or nations that call themselves Christian (followers of Christ)
still spend so much time taking life away? Wars, invasions, discriminations, sanctions,
death penalty, debt, torture . . .all of these are ways that we take life away.
If we are followers of Jesus we need to follow his example of giving life. What
are three life giving actions YOU have done this week? And for whom?
C: 5th Sunday in Lent
pivotal values in the 1st century Mediterranean world where Jesus lived were honour
and shame. Today's gospel is centred on a story of honour and shame where a woman
caught in adultery is placed on show before a crowd of men. Frequent comment is
made about where he male accomplice might be! For the scribes and Pharisees the
main point is not to get the woman punished but to set a trap for Jesus. Would
Jesus defy the prescriptions of the law of Moses or would he, by condemning the
woman, usurp the prerogative of the Roman occupying power who reserved the death
penalty to themselves? The scribes and Pharisees were more concerned to challenge
the honour of Jesus than to shame the woman. Jesus chooses to write in the dirt
and it is not important what he wrote, what is important is that he gave himself
time to think about their challenge and for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to come
to the fore. The power of the gentleness of Jesus is breathtaking. The eldest
leaves first and the crowd disappears. Jesus has a better way of dealing with
sin than condemnation and punishment. He does not deny or condone sin, Jesus'
concern is to rescue the woman from her terrible plight and set her free for a
new life. Once the crowd has gone, Jesus looks at her for the first time, "Go
and sin no more." We too are called to be gentle in our dealings with other
people, including those who might seek to trap or shame us, but also the marginalised.
Jesus has shown us that gentleness is not weakness but is the way of love and
so is most powerful because love is life-changing.
Ministry Resources 5th Sunday in Lent
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