We are so close to Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter...This week, we find Jesus, John 11: 1-45, a mere 2 miles (John 11:18) from Jerusalem. Before Jesus enters the city to face his persecution and crucifixion, here he is in a story of his own very personal grief. In the gospels, this family in Bethany---Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, are the only individuals that are singled out as "loved by Jesus." Sure, he loved those in the crowds that followed him and his followers, but this kind of love was different; it was intimate. It was the sort of love that caused him to weep...what a story to hear just two weeks before we remember the grief caused by his own death...
There is something very poignant about his grief, as shown through his encounter with Mary, too. In John 1: 29-42, right after Jesus was baptized, two of John the Baptist's followers. John referred to Jesus as the "lamb of God," and they began to follow Jesus. Jesus asks them, ‘what are you looking for?’ and they respond with another question, ‘where are you staying?’ He replies, ‘come
and see.’ This isn't a casual exchange, but a deeply theological encounter. An alternative translation
- ‘What are you seeking, what do you hope to discover?
- ‘Where will you endure, remain – where will you not be moved from?’
- “Come and perceive, understand, experience.’
When Mary comes to Jesus, she falls at his feet, grieving for him. This moves Jesus in a real way, and he asks her a question that mimics the opening to the gospel – ‘Where have you placed him?’ Her response: ‘Come and see.’ The words are the same in the original text – ‘Come and perceive, understand, experience.’
Jesus' love for us is personal. He knows us: our pain, our turmoil, our neediness, and our fragile mortality. So, we do give up our lives to Jesus, whether we know it or not. Jesus knows us (see John 4) and loves us. The question is whether we will embrace that love or not; whether we will willingly give up our lives to follow Jesus. In our moments of pain and grief, our hope can lie in the loving hands of Jesus.
Come, my Way, my Truth, my Life:
such a way as gives us breath,
such a truth as ends all strife,
such a life as killeth death.
Come, my Light, my Feast, my Strength:
such a light as shows a feast,
such a feast as mends in length,
such a strength as makes his guest.
Come, my Joy, my Love, my Heart:
such a joy as none can move,
such a love as none can part,
such a heart as joys in love.
*United Methodist Hymnal, 164.
Credit to Starters for Sunday, a website from the Church of Scotland. Some of this material was learned from their entry this week.