The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
John 11:1-10 introduces us to Lazarus. When informed of the illness of his friend, Jesus said it was not a fatal illness. It would be for the glory of God. Sadly, I have heard people speak in this way of others’ illnesses, even of their death. It is especially damaging when this passage is used for justification.
Is Jesus telling the truth here? In fact, he is. He knows that Lazarus will die. He knows that he will raise Lazarus from the dead. And he knows that, given time, Lazarus will die again and await the resurrection of all the dead. That is the true hope which we can have in eternity. Jesus himself is the resurrection and the life.
Even armed with all this theological truth, we do not approach our friends in their illnesses, or the family members of our friends, by saying that maybe the person will die to bring glory to God. That is a truth best studied while we are healthy. When our friends are ill, when their families are suffering, we go to them to bring them hope and comfort.
What is Jesus’ commitment to bringing hope to his friends? His own disciples observe that there are people in the area of Bethany who are trying to kill him. He goes anyway. He has no intention of dying prematurely. Care for his friends is more important than care for himself.
Lord, grant us courage to go and bring comfort to our friends and their families in their times of illness and even in death. Remind us while we are well that you are the resurrection and the life. Then we might remember when we are ill.
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