The following is a reflection on John 12:1-8, the Gospel lesson appointed for Lent 5C, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.
Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
You ever meet someone famous? Someone that people know of because of something they’ve done, or something they’ve lived through?
I’m always caught off guard by how “real” famous people look when I see them. They’re either shorter or taller than I expected them to be. Or more glamorous or more “regular” than I expected them to be.
It’s also fun to watch everyone turn and look in their direction. We all soak them in with our eyes. And they know it.
Sometimes they relish that. Sometimes they act like nothing big is going on and they just go about their business. Sometimes they feed off the attention and they “work it.”
Jesus goes to Bethany, to the home of his friends, and I wonder if it’s not the first time in a long time that Jesus experiences being upstaged.
Because right there, in the room, at the same table, is that man who was dead, but who is dead no more.
There’s obviously a small crowd there in the home, and perhaps gathered around the home—because Judas Iscariot is present too, without any explanation as to why.
I think if I were there in that room, I’d want to be looking at Jesus, but my eyes would keep wandering over to Lazarus. It may have even been the last time that Jesus was in Bethany that he was called from the tomb and raised from the dead.
I’d want to look at his skin, which had begun to stink from decomposure. I’d want to look into his eyes, which had been dead and lifeless. I’d want to hear him speak, or laugh—or something.
I do wonder if Jesus wasn’t upstaged there in that room, but not because Lazarus had done something wonderful all by himself.
But, because Lazarus is a living, breathing example of what happens when Jesus calls you, touches you, and gives you life.
As a priest, I’m around Christians all the times. Good people. Salt of the earth. But, I’m also caught off-guard when I meet people who come face to face with the Living God and have seen their lives completely transformed from the inside out. It’s amazing. Amazing to see what God can do with us.
Lazarus, and the children of Lazarus are reminders—signposts—to all of us that our God can take a slave nation, a persecutor, an adulterer, a loser, a fisherman…a dead man…and do wondrous things.