Sunday, March 29, 2020
Lenten Reflections, Day Thirty three, Fifth Sunday of Lent, Love doesn't die.
Day Thirty three, Fifth Sunday of Lent
Love doesn’t die.
John 11: 1-45
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.
Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”
But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God's glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarusd was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”
The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?”
Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.”
After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”
The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.”
Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarusd had already been in the tomb for four days.
Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.
Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?”
They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep.
So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 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.”
Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 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.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 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.” Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.
John is a good story teller. This is a story for our modern times when the popular culture seems to be enamored with zombies. In the world of the ego, Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead. However, like so many of John’s stories that can be read on two levels. The first level is in the world of the ego, and the second level is in the world of Spirit.
On the second level, the world of the Spirit, the story isn’t about zombies at all. The story is about consciousness and which mind the believer is in. Is the believer in the wrong minded level of the ego or the right minded level of the Spirit?
Jesus says to Martha, I am teaching about the world of the Spirit, the Love of the Father, do you believe this? Jesus, according to John, personalizes this and has Jesus say “Do you believe in me, that I am the resurrection and the life,” but what Jesus probably said, was not “me” but “my teaching.” “Do you believe that my teaching about the world of the Spirit where love never dies is true? If you do, you will know that you have eternal life and live forever as does your brother and all people.”
And so, according to John, Jesus acts this out by raising the physical body of Lazarus from the dead, but physical bodies don’t come back to life anymore than zombies are real. John’s zombie story is not literally true, but the moral to John’s story makes a significant point which is that we can awaken from our dream life in the world of the ego, and perceive and experience the peace and joy of the world of the Spirit.
The biggest point that Jesus is trying to make is that Love doesn’t die but exists forever.
During Lent we are reminded frequently of physical death in our renunciation of things of the ego world. We experience this giving up as losses, little deaths over and over again. It is in this giving up of the things of the ego that we are purifying our minds to be liberated from worldly attachments to ascend to the world of the Spirit where Love is all there is.