*I gave this reflection on Lazarus’ Tomb at community Vespers this evening. I’m going to tag a few people in the hopes they enjoy it, don’t mean to leave anyone out! :) Blessed Holy Week to all of you!*
We are now near the end of our Lenten journey as we prepare to enter into the holiest days of the year. The Sundays of Lent have given us many Gospel themes ripe for contemplation: Jesus in the desert, the Transfiguration, the Samaritan woman at the well; but no story more captured me or brought more fruit to my personal prayer life this Lent then the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the tomb.
Since we have moved into our new chapel, I have found myself arriving earlier for Compline than I did before. I enjoy sitting in the dark in silent prayer. Last week as I sat in the darkened silence of this room, it dawned on me that this chapel, when it is fully dark, is like Lazarus’ tomb, and that each of us are like Lazarus.
The story of Lazarus in the Gospel of John begins with his sisters telling Jesus, “Master, the one you love is ill.” How true these words ring for us! We who are ill have a Master who loves us. We are wounded by sin, and fallen by our pride and vanity; but notice most importantly that the Lord loves us through our illnesses. Jesus weeps for us in our sin, Jesus enters into our suffering and our death.
In the story of Lazarus, Jesus tells the people to remove the stone sealing the tomb. This represents that without the grace of God, and without His love; we are truly dead. We cannot escape from our own tombs except for the mercy and grace of the Lord. We cannot save ourselves, only our Savior can roll back the stone. Jesus, being victor over death itself, is the one who unseals tombs, the one who allows us to be free.
But see something interesting here. Jesus does not go into the tomb and pull Lazarus out. Rather, he calls into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!” and the beauty of the story, to me, is that he does!