Blog 18 John 11: 1-53 ‘If you had been here’
Sunday Night Live 10 February 2013 7.00pm

We always found it hard to work out why Jesus did what he did or why he went where he went, when he went. And never more so than now – the Festivals of Tabernacles and Dedication had been resounding triumphs for him in the eyes of the people – they were hanging on every word – waiting for his next move. But the Jewish Leaders were getting very edgy – so we reckoned he left to let things cool down a bit. Was he sailing too close to the wind!

But why did he not go out to Bethany as he normally would but trekked a long way to the far side of the Jordan. And we had hardly arrived when he heard that Lazarus was ill back in Bethany. And he did nothing, just stayed where he was.

We talked and talked among ourselves – what was going on – why was he so uncaring – he had said the illness does not lead to death, perhaps that’s why he did not rush – but when two days later we started out – we did not know whether to talk him out of it because the Jewish leaders were still out for him or to encourage him to go and pray for Lazarus. Then he told us Lazarus was sleeping and we thought ‘that’s good – now he’ll get better’. But he meant dead and so it proved.

I’ll never forget Martha coming running saying ‘If you had been here he would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Her faith impressed me – Mary was the spiritual one and Martha the practical one we always thought, but here it is Martha in first with such faith – I’m not sure I could have been so sure. But she was right.

I will never forget the sight of Lazarus shuffling out of the tomb tightly bound in grave cloths – I did not know whether to laugh or cry – I think I did both that day – I saw Jesus weep – what a heart he has – I saw him command the dead to rise – what faith and courage – I watched him sit with his friends who could hardly believe what had happened and explain that Resurrection is who he is.  How we underestimated him again and again.

But some headed to spill the beans in Jerusalem – and what should have been triumph rapidly turned into another nail in his coffin – if they[1] could not cope with one who healed a man born blind, how could they let one who raised the dead go free. So we went off again to a far place until Passover came – but that will have to wait for next week.

[1] The Jewish authorities