Ok I lied, this reflection has more to do with the verses following the assigned lectionary reading than it does the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.
About 6 years ago I was living in a one bedroom apartment on the first floor of an apartment, and my balcony looked out onto a grassy land just in front of a creek. It was a beautiful site for sure, there was a lovely path along the creek and you could see people walking by on the other side and there were lots of birds and other small wildlife in the area. It was quite peaceful, especially on beautiful days.
I had about a month or so left on my lease and was leaving to move back to my parents house for a year to save money for the two years that I would be in college. So I was slowly preparing things to get ready for the move.
One morning when I woke up to get ready for work I could hear a weird sound. I followed the sound to the kitchen, and for a second or two it stopped when I got close, but as I stood as still as could be the sound could be heard again. It was coming from somewhere near the stove.
I had the brilliant idea that I should move the stove and see what was going on, and as I pulled the stove out from the wall I spooked the mouse that was in behind the stove and as I pulled the mouse ran across my barefoot into the living room. I called in and said I would not be able to make it to work that day and spent the day going through every crevice of that apartment looking for that mouse, but he was not to be found: until….
I was laying in bed one night and had put some papers that I had been reading on the floor next to the bed. Just as I was about to fall asleep I heard them rustle. So I jerked and sat right up in bed and turned on the light and there he was just staring at me, almost like he was saying look lady, there is not enough room in this apartment for the both of us. I agreed and packed up my stuff and moved home before my lease was up.
Although it was just one little mouse there was no room in that apartment for me and him, he was a threat to my health and safety.
It might seem strange, but I make that connection with the reading for this week because there are many people in throughout the gospels who treat Jesus like he is a kind of parasite and there is no room for both him and them.
The story of Jesus raising Lazarus is a nice story, and there are many angles from which we can approach the story. For the characters involved in the story there is suspense and sadness and then surprise and great joy, and all in all a happy ending for the people, but if we don’t continue to read I think we can lose sight of the real cost of this story.
If your Bible has headings, the very next section is called the plot to kill Jesus. Someone has gone and told the Pharisees what Jesus has done, and they don’t like it one bit. While they should be rejoicing in a life restored from death, they only see it as a threat because Jesus is gaining popularity and there is not room enough in the world for him and for them. He is threatening the very thing they believe keeps them safe which is their sense of power and control.
The Pharisees don’t back down from their threat as I did, instead they begin their plot to kill Jesus.
I wonder as we journey a bit closer to the cross this Lenten season, where we might find ourselves in the story.
Do we find ourselves calling on Jesus in our deepest need?
Perhaps we find ourselves doubting that Jesus will actually come through, or are amazed at his compassion and humanness in this story.
Maybe we just don’t believe that there is enough room in our lives for both Jesus and our firmly held beliefs.
Wherever we find ourselves in the story the invitation for us is to follow him, even when it leads to the cross.