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.”
In John 11:11-16 Jesus and his disciples are speaking and thinking on very different plains. Jesus is aware that Lazarus has died. He speaks in fairly spiritual terms. “Lazarus our friend has gone to sleep.” Of course, if you or I were told in normal circumstances that a friend who has been ill is asleep and that we were to go wake him, we would make the very same assumption that the disciples do. Lazarus must be getting better. He’s able to rest now. That’s good news.
Jesus expresses to his disciples that he is glad Lazarus has died. His being raised back to life may help them believe. Notice Jesus does not ever tell Mary or Martha that he is glad Lazarus has died. At this time, at a distance, Jesus can speak plainly to his disciples about what he is doing.
What is Jesus doing here? It is really something very important. He is showing his disciples that in his hands, death is just like sleep. We fall asleep, we rest, and we are awakened at the right time. It is not too difficult for someone to awaken us. Granted, some people are slow to wake. Some people, once awakened, are not fully alert for some time. Yet we awaken from sleep rather easily.
One day, if the Lord does not come for his people first, each of us will fall asleep in death. We must be clear that death is a result of the fall of mankind into sin. It is a bad thing. Yet death is not the end. There will come a day when Jesus will awaken his people from death. It is as easy for him to raise the dead as it is for someone to awaken me from sleep. And, like Lazarus, those who are trusting in Jesus will be greeted warmly by him when we awaken.
May the Lord give us a blessed rest, in eager expectation of his return.
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