We can see the irony in that Jesus giving the miracle of life actually leads to others wanting to take away his.
Of course, John writes his Gospel in light of the First Jewish-Roman War which lasted from 66 to 73 in the first century. This saw the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. When the Pharisees and the Chief Priests come together to debate about Jesus, they state in verse 48, "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place (temple) and our nation.” This looks like the foreshadowing of things the reader would know had already taken place.
|Life is determined even in the midst|
of our "ordering" of the world.
Similarly, how do we make sense of great violence and mayhem that some people bring upon others?
The authorities want to commit violence for the eventual greater reduction of violence. If they kill Jesus, they reason that this will prevent further deaths of innocent people.
John shows us that this is faulty logic. Through placing this before their tragic history, John seems to be saying that when we are quick to turn to death as a solution, we will reap what we sow.
In contrast, Jesus offers life. The resurrection of Lazarus is a claim that life in Christ overcomes death in tangible ways.
Our first instinct to the miraculous may not quickly embrace it. While our reaction may not necessarily be violent to Jesus, we may try to kill off his message of life when we seek to explain it away. The dismissal is a refusal to acknowledge the reality of resurrection that is all around us. Because death can be so prominent when we are in the midst of grief, we may hold onto it more powerfully than life. Death can bind us in ways we may not even understand.
We need Jesus to say to us as well, "Unbind them, and let them go."
Prayer for the day:
Almighty God, the fountain of Life, who has ordained that your children may find life in the way of your commandment, and in the path of your service; we would humbly thank you, not alone for what is bright and fair in our lot, but for the difficulty, the trial, the darkness. We thank you for the doubts that perplex us,—the infirmities that oppress us,—the sorrows that make us to faint and fear; for we know that you will answer the strong cry which these bring forth of our souls after light from you. Oh, grant that we may so endure as to become your children,—that, doubting, we may not despair,—cast down, we may not be destroyed,—sorrowing, it may not be as those without hope; but that, receiving your discipline and preparation in the Spirit of your dear Son, we may make straight His path within our hearts. We ask it in His name, who is the Light of all people—Amen.
Henry Wilder Foote (1838–1889)
Photo by Fuzzy Gerdes via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.