Scripture: John 11:30-44
Key verse: (44) The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Reflection: Nineteen years ago I was sitting in my office when a church member came in and told me that a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center. Many of us remember where we were that day and how we reacted to the unfolding news of a terrorist attack. We heard the stories of heroes, of first responders who ran into the buildings, of ordinary folks on the street who helped one another, of generous people who offered food or shelter to displaced people.
When I read the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, I am struck by today’s key verse. Lazarus came out of the tomb, with the stench of death, wrapped in the cloth used for his burial. Jesus called on those gathered to “unbind him, and let him go.” Jesus needed some first responders. People who would step forward to offer help to a fellow human. People who would move toward the stench rather than away from it. People who would help Lazarus remove the trappings of death so he could live again.
As followers of Jesus, we are called to a ministry of compassion and care. We are called to move toward the stench of the hurting so that we can offer help. We are called to recognize our shared humanity and to admit that none of us can remove the bindings of pain alone. Lazarus couldn’t take off his own burial cloth. He needed help. And Jesus chose to ask the bystanders to step forward. Perhaps today you need to admit you need help from someone else. Or perhaps today you need to reach out to the person you know is hurting. We are united in our humanity and in our pain, and God will use us.
Prayer: Risen Lord, I give thanks for the gift of life and for the promise of eternal life. I give thanks for the ways you have shown me your grace and transformed me. Give me courage to admit when I need help. And give me courage to offer help when I see need. Amen.
Author: Millie Snyder
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].