It’s hard to believe that Jesus chooses to let someone die. Of course, it’s hard to believe that Jesus raises someone from the dead too. But first it’s hard to believe that Jesus knows Lazarus is dying and doesn’t drop everything to go and heal him. While many of us try to spend time with loved ones when death looms, Jesus says to his disciples after he receives the news that Lazarus is sick, “Let’s stay where we are for two more days” (ap).
For Jesus, death is sleep, and the time of death is like a night of sleep after which the sun will surely rise. God’s time is not confined by the dance of the sun and the Earth, not limited to the cycles of mortal life and death, and not defined by the rhythms or seasons of this world. God’s experience of time—kairos, “the right moment”—differs from our experience of time—chronos, “sequence.”
I might have more patience with God’s time if I didn’t have so many opinions about how life unfolds in our time. People all around the world flee from war and drought and famine, and I wonder why we do not take better care of one another right now. Why doesn’t God recognize this humanitarian crisis as a moment worthy of intervening action? Racism plagues every part of the world, so much so that the news cycle cannot keep pace in reporting its violent acts and words. I wonder when God will see fit to repair this wrong.
Lazarus dies, and Jesus isn’t there to say goodbye. When Martha tells Jesus that she believes all will be well for Lazarus in kairos, she also admits her disappointment that Jesus was not present in chronos. She believes in God’s power, but she misses her friend in that critical moment.
God, I confess my impatience. I want your relief to find us before our tears begin. I want your healing to find us before our hearts break. Amen.
Ezekiel sets the stage for the readings this week. In a vision, the prophet sees a seemingly hopeless situation, yet God restores flesh to the bones and brings them back to life by breathing into them. The psalmist calls out to God from the depths of devastation and waits confidently for God’s redemption. Paul plays off the double meaning of the Greek word pneuma: “breath” and “spirit.” Just as Ezekiel’s dry bones are brought back through the breath of God, so are we raised through the Spirit of God. The Lazarus story provides a bookend resurrection story for the week. Here Jesus demonstrates in the physical realm the spiritual realities described in the other passages. These resurrection stories point us toward Jesus’ resurrection and ultimately the promise of our own.
Read Ezekiel 37:1-14. When have you heard from God directly or through others in times of devastation? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 130. How can you listen for signs of hope and look for God’s voice?
Read Romans 8:6-11. What helps you remember that you cannot save yourself and to put your trust in God?
Read John 11:1-45. When have you been disappointed in God’s timing or response? What would be different now if God had met your expectations then?
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