Daily Readings in John – Day Thirty-Eight
November 24, 2017
John 11:38-44 (NRSV)
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
So from the start of the chapter, we’ve heard that this awful tragedy would be the grounds for revealing the glory of God – the beauty, the transcendent other-ness, the stunning reputation, all that is special about God that stops us in our tracks in wonder.
I think we’ve seen it already. The glory of God in Jesus’ courage to go to the region where his life is in danger, just to be with his grieving friends. The glory of God in filling Martha’s mind with insight and hope that Jesus is the promised one of God who is bringing life and hope into the world. The glory of God in Jesus’ weeping with Martha, in the deep compassion and anger of God for how things are in our world.
And here the glory of God reaches a climax. The glory of God is seen in rolling away the stone of death’s finality, in upending the closure of loss, and in calling out new life with a word from God. The glory of God is here in a dead man walking.
Even in this climax of the glory of God, there’s a place for mere mortals, though. The once grieving, now shocked funeral assembly is given a task to do. They are to unwrap Lazurus from his stench-filled graveclothes and to release him into renewed life.
God includes people as partners in just about everything God does. There is always a piece for us to do, and this too reveals the glory of God.
It might be a simple prayer, to which God responds in power. It might be a word of appreciation or gratitude or encouragement, which God uses to keep someone going. It might be an act of service, or work done faithfully in your job that God uses to provide for economic or physical needs.
Yesterday, a friend of mine took the courage to share with me an insight she had when she prayed for me. She shared it humbly, in the event it might be helpful, and it unlocked something really helpful in my mind today.
How is God at work for glory today, and what part are you invited to play in this?