It is the fifth Sunday in Lent. With in-person church services temporarily a thing of the past (mine will be online today) let’s worship together in music. Today’s Bach cantata is “Ich steh mit einem Fuß im Grabe” (I am standing with one foot in the grave):
Today’s Gospel reading is John 11:1-45, the story of Jesus restoring Lazurus of Bethany to life after four days in the tomb. “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
The Death of Lazarus
Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”
When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”
“But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going back?”
9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”
After he had said this, he went on to tell them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”
His disciples replied, “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.” Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep.
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus
On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Jesus Raises Lazarus From the Dead
Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The Plot to Kill Jesus
Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
The text of today’s piece is available here. It contains these words, which are a reminder in these times of widespread bodily illness of the importance of keeping our souls healthy:
My fear and suffering,
my life and my death
are placed, dearest God, in Your hands;
therefore also turn upon me
Your gracious eye.
If You lay me, for the sake of my sins,
in a sickbed,
my God, then I beseech You,
let Your goodness be greater than Your righteousness;
yet should you intend, on this account,
that my sorrows should consume me,
I am ready,
Your will shall be done to me,
spare me not and continue on,
let my suffering not last long;
the longer here, the later there.
. . . .
And if it is Your will that I should not fall ill,
I shall thank You from my heart;
yet grant to me as well
that also in my healthy body
my soul be without illness
and remain always sound.
Take it in Your care through spirit and word,
for this is my salvation,
and if my body and soul languishes,
yet You, God, are my comfort and my heart’s portion!
Happy listening! Soli Deo gloria.
P.S. Riffing off the title of the cantata: I can’t hear that phrase without hearing these ten seconds of Jellyfish’s “Brighter Day” in my head.