Passion Sunday

Sunday 29th March – Passion Sunday 

John 11:1-45 (NRSV) John 11:1-45

Meditation on the above text.

This remarkable account of Jesus bringing Lazarus back from the dead must rank among the greatest of Our Lord’s miracles, indeed, it prefigures the Resurrection itself.

St John tells us in this story that many people had come to call on Martha and Mary to comfort them on the death of their brother. In Our Lord’s time the process of mourning was very public and very emotional. It remains the case today in many cultures where a funeral is a large public spectacle with the coffin being carried through the streets to the place of burial. There are often “professional” mourners who lead the crying and wailing. In such circumstances one person’s grief very quickly communicates to another.

In our own culture and in much of the secularised West we have learned to hide our emotions and we prefer funerals where everything is restrained and orderly and the service conducted with a quiet dignity. I often wonder if this way sometimes suppresses grief or, worse still, pretends it doesn’t exist.

When St Paul says “I do not want you to grieve like people who have no hope” he doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want us to grieve at all; he means that there are two sorts of grief, a hopeless grief and a hopeful grief. Hopeful grief is still grief and it can be very, very hard but it is underpinned by the knowledge that our parting is temporary and that our loved one is with God.

Even Jesus, when he learns of Lazarus’ death, weeps. Some commentators seize on this fact as a sign of his humanity. Yes, it is but it is also FAR, FAR more than that. When we look at Jesus in tears we are seeing not just a flesh and blood human being in tears but “The Word Made Flesh” in tears. In other words we are seeing God in tears.

Only when we stop and ponder this will we understand the full mystery of who God is. We have a God who can cry when the world is crying.

When Jesus asks where they have laid Lazarus they respond “Come and see”. That simplest of invitations goes to the heart of the Christian faith.

“Come and see” we say to Jesus as we lead him, all tears, to the place of our deepest sorrow and grief.

“Come and see” he says in reply as he leads us through the sorrow to the place where he now dwells in light and love and resurrection glory.

With every Blessing

Fr Christopher

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