Fifth Sunday in Lent
Someone once said that there are only two things certain about life: death and taxes. Yet it is one of those certain things and one of those ordinary things about life—death itself—that Jesus challenges in our Gospel passage from John today. Lazarus, we are told, has physically died—an ordinary death, as we will all face one day ourselves.
Yet even in the ordinary, Jesus does something extraordinary. Actually, I would argue that he does two things that are extraordinary. Of course, we see the one extraordinary event immediately after we hear the story. Lazarus is brought back to life. Even in the ordinary event of death, Jesus bears the possibility for the extraordinary.
But there is another extraordinary reaction. For Jesus, Lazarus’s death is significant. It is not merely part of some grand plan for him to raise him back to life and impress the crowds or make a point. Lazarus’s death deeply affects Jesus at his core. He weeps. The reading describes Jesus as “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved.” He never loses the sense of the importance of a life, and even if he knew what he was going to do for Lazarus, he still mourns the loss of life itself.
How Jesus sees and treats each life (and death) as extraordinary can remind us of how we are to treat each life around us as precious and capable of extraordinary things.
I am reminded of the words of the great Horton the elephant (from Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who): “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” From the ordinary lives we lead, Jesus sees us and loves us as precious and extraordinary.
Janel Rice, pastor, Calvary Moravian Church