SOURCE: Priest Mathew Jackson
By Priest Matthew Jackson
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Christ is in our midst! He is and shall be!
Lazarus Saturday marks the beginning of Holy Week – the final week in our Lord’s earthly life and ministry before His crucifixion. In terms of our Lord’s ministry, this miracle – the raising of Lazarus from the dead – this miracle is the “miracle of miracles.” This is the moment when everyone knows who He is. Many people had gathered at the house of Mary and Martha to be with them during the period of mourning for their brother Lazarus. We hear at the end of the Gospel reading that many had come to be with Mary and Martha, the people saw what Jesus had done, and they believed on Him.
If you continue reading the rest of the chapter, you’ll also hear this:
“But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death.” (John 11:46-53)
The leaders of the Temple had been unsure of what to do with Jesus until this point, but now that He has performed a public miracle with so many witnesses and such magnitude as raising one from the dead, they make their decision to put Him to death. They don’t care if He’s the Messiah; they don’t care that He might be the Messiah; in fact, they know that He’s doing all of the things that the Messiah was prophesied to do. Their concern is not for their God or for their faith, their concern is for their own self preservation. And so they make the decision, after our Lord has raised a man 4 days dead from the tomb, to find a time and a place to put Him to death.
There are really two points I’d like us to keep in mind and to think on coming from this morning’s reading and events:
1 – prepare today to hear the cries of Hosannah tomorrow. When Jesus enters the Holy City of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the people greet Him as a king because they’ve heard about the miracle of the raising of Lazarus. And don’t only prepare yourselves to hear their worship, but prepare also to hear how the people will quickly turn and betray Him, which will lead to the other gruesome events of Holy Week. The people’s faith in Christ is a shallow one – a sort of hero worship based on a single powerful event – this type of shallow faith fails and collapses under even the least bit of external pressure.
2 – remember the plight and the actions of the priests and the Pharisees. They are educated and the leaders of the faith, but by their actions they show that in fact they don’t care for God at all. This can also be a very real temptation for us – to get comfortable with life in this world and to live as though God is not there at all. In the services of this week, we step into the final week in the life of our Saviour. The services remind us constantly of His love for us, and of how we repaid that love with torture and death. The services make us uncomfortable, they remind us that God is there and that we live in a constant tension between the way of the Cross and the way of the world, and that discomfort is good – it helps us keep a clear focus on the things in this life that are truly important.
I encourage us all to attend the services this week, to listen to the readings, and to walk with the Lord and God of all creation as He prepares to shed His blood and to die for us and for our salvation. Remembering at all times that just as Lazarus was raised from the dead, our Lord’s death ultimately leads to His Holy Resurrection, which is also the fruit that God wishes to bestow upon us all – a glorious resurrection to life in His kingdom.
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory forever!