We are all on the way to the tomb just as Lazarus did, from dust to dust. But we will be redeemed by Christ just as Lazarus was raised from the tomb. When things seem to frustrate us, and when our prayers go unanswered, we need to be able to trust in God’s invisible hands working in our lives. Our ultimate hope is in Jesus.
We see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, and we think we know what this means.
What we know, though, is what we want glory to mean. It is we who want success and a throne. This is the whole problem.
The practices of Lent—fasting, almsgiving, prayer, and reconciliation—invite us to recognize that we aren’t able to submerge ourselves completely in the cold waters of repentance. Despite how we might grit our teeth and plunge forward into the repentance of John’s baptism, we cannot truly die to ourselves. We keep coming up for air.
The blind man testifies to the Pharisees about who opened his eyes and how he performed that miracle. Also, he claims that Jesus is a prophet.
But, the Pharisees simply refuse to believe that the blind man has been healed. They dichotomize human actions into what is permitted and what is forbidden, and they are unable to see God in Jesus.
Why do we fast during Lent? It’s important to note, at the start, that fasting is not the same thing as giving up coffee or sugar or FB or Twitter because it will be good for us to do so. Fasting is not a self-help technique. Fasting is a discipline offered us by the church during Lent. It is not self-improvement but obedience.
That suffering death may be good news is very hard to hear. Every instinct cries out against it, because death ends a life that we know to be precious and suffering lays a pall over it. If life and health are good—and they are; our life is from the beginning God’s good gift and God desires us to flourish—then suffering and death are bad. That is why the current euthanasia movement has so much traction. It offers an escape from suffering and if it cannot offer an escape from death, it can at least offer control over it. Death be not proud, we wish to say. We will not let suffering and death get the better of us. And so, in an irony that no one seems to see, we rush to die.
“So he [the father] divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living.”
It’s tempting to think of the son as some snotty rich kid wasting thousands of his dad’s dollars partying with his bros. But the parable isn’t supposed to make us judge the son; we’re supposed to identify with him. He’s no idiot; he stands for everybody–you and me, Christian and non-Christian. All of us should be able to relate because in one way or another we have all run off on God, taken advantage of his goodness, done wrong.
Jesus is the one who loves us past our barrenness, past our stubbornness, past our failure to bear fruit. Even and especially when our heart is barren, when we grieve because we feel that we bear no fruit for God, Jesus walks with us. He is the gardener, and we are his garden. He calls us to bear fruit, to turn our hearts to God; to be his light in the world. And when we fall down and fail and turn away, when we have no resources left and cannot help ourselves, he helps us especially then.
But Jesus does die. He longs to gather up the children of Jerusalem like the hen who is killed to protect her young.
In his death we see the heart of God the Father; a Father who longs to gather up his children in Christ, so that they may live by his death.
We behold God who does not want his children to remain in a house that is desolate, even when we have rejected being gathered. Jesus died for those who rejected him, for us who reject him now.