Year A Lent 5 John 11 2011
It's Time to Get Up
This powerful story in John 11 speaks to this. Remember it with me. Mary and Martha who live in Bethany are some of Jesus' closest friends… They send word to him that their brother, whose name is Lazarus, is desperately ill. "Please come. We need your help. Hurry. He is sinking fast." But by the time Jesus gets there, Lazarus has died… and has been in his grave for four days. Mary and Martha come out to meet Jesus and they express their grief: "He's gone. We've lost him. O Lord, if only you have been here, our brother would not have died."
The family and friends have gathered and in their deep sorrow, they begin to weep over the loss of their loved one, Lazarus. The heart of Jesus goes out to them… and Jesus weeps with them. He loved Lazarus, too… and he loves them… and he shares their pain. Jesus goes out to the cave-like tomb and he says to them: "Roll back the stone!" Martha, always the realist and ever ready to speak out, protests: "But Lord, we can't do that. He has been in the grave for 4 days. By now there will be a terrible odor." Jesus says to her: "Martha, only believe and you will see the power of God."
So they roll the stone away... and Jesus cries out in a loud voice: "Lazarus, come forth!" And incredibly, miraculously, amazingly, before their very eyes… Lazarus is resurrected! He comes out of the tomb. He still has on his grave clothes. His head and feet are still wrapped with mummy-like bandages. Jesus then turns to the friends and family and says to them, "Unbind him and let him go. Unwrap him and set him free."
In this graphic and dramatic story, three awesome lessons jump out at us. Three great truths emerge which can be so helpful to us today. Let me list them for us: Jesus wept with those he loved and he still does. Jesus raised people up and he still does. Jesus included others in the healing process… and he still does.
- First, Jesus wept with those he loved...and he still does.
- Second, Jesus raised people up…and he still does.
- Third, he included others in the healing process…and he still does.
Big "J" and little "j"
A new kind of "American Idol" competition is underway this month. By the end of April there will be a new voice behind that loud, squawking Aflac duck. It seems the original duck voice actor was let go after "tweeting" several insensitive remarks immediately after that 9.0 earthquake and 80 foot tsunami struck Japan. Evidently "tweets" can silence "quacks."
The competition for the next famous quacker is fierce. Already over 28,000 people have inquired on the Aflac website (QuackAflac.com) about the position for "spokes duck" for the insurance company. Everyone, it seems, wants to be a "quack."
Drive down almost any rural road that runs alongside a waterway and you are likely to see a bright yellow road sign with silhouettes of ducklings warning you "Slow. Duck Crossing." Nothing says spring so sweetly as a line-up of little fuzzy yellow ducklings waddling or swimming behind their mother. The babies look so devoted, and are so completely lock-stepped on their parent, that they will blindly follow-the-leader right into traffic or over the edge of a waterfall.
It isn't love that keeps those baby ducks so obediently bounded behind their mother. Flocking birds like ducks and geese are genetically programmed to "imprint" on the first creature they see after cracking out of their eggshell. Of course, that first creature would normally always be the baby duck's mom or dad. Imprinting on their parents keeps the hatchlings from wandering off on their own, or trying to make up-close and personal friends with a cat or a Buick.
But imprinting can go very wrong. Baby ducks imprint on the first moving creature they encounter, no matter what it is. If the eggs are hatched in an incubator box then the human being caring for the new hatchlings will become the object of the babies imprinting. If the eggs are hatched by a friendly dog, then the ducklings "mom" will forever be a barker, not a quacker.
There are some Christians who think they are following Christ, when really they have simply been "imprinted" by a culture that calls itself "Christian." Following some accepted line of "Christian" behavior is not necessarily following Christ...