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He stayed on where he was for two days more

Approx. read time: 2:00 min., plus reflection questions.

We hang, these days, in middle space, a season of self-isolation with no foreseeable end.

So I sit with the account of Jesus raising his beloved friend Lazarus from the dead.

The part I am really sitting with is the line early in the account (John 11:1-45, at v. 6), “Yet after hearing that Lazarus was sick, Jesus stayed on where he was for two days more.”

Two days is an eternity when death visits and your family’s closest friend does not arrive.
Why does Jesus remain where he is for two days? He speaks plainly to his disciples: “Lazarus is dead” (v. 14).

His adversaries have been pressing Jesus for a sign that he is “from God.” No healing, no miraculous feeding of the multitudes, nothing proved sign enough for them.

Now Jesus’ own life draws in tight around him. The arc of his journey is on the descent.

Yet love impels him to call Lazarus back to life. The act itself will be a flash point.

The two-day gap, a mystery of the heart
We do not know what transpires for Jesus in those two days as he delays going to Bethany.

Two days, I imagine, is what Jesus needs to wrestle with the crushing weight of mortal anguish upon his soul. Not only with the loss of Lazarus, whom he loves, but with knowing that raising Lazarus back to life will surely lead to his own death.

His anguished prayer in the garden at Gethsemane a short time later gives us a clue. Jesus is discerning: “Take this cup away from me,” he prays three times, “yet not my will but yours.”

At some point in your life you, too, have agonized, because you have dared to take life seriously, dared to get your heart mixed up with the commitments of love.

So I say to you, do not be afraid when your next “two days” come, when you have to sort things out and lean into God.

Do not be afraid to feel the weight of mortal anguish upon your soul. Do not be afraid to wrestle in that dark space of unknowing.

Do not be afraid.

Your assignment in that moment will be to act from a place of deep love, and in doing so, to give glory to God. Something in you will die. And all that is in you will be raised up.

This will be your sign, the sign that others have been asking for, the sign they may be needing—the sign that you truly are a son, a daughter, of the Most High.

Reflection questions

  1.  What mortal anguish have I had to wrestle with? What response have I had to discern?
  2. What, within me, had to die? A hope? a commitment? a career? a way of being in the world?
  3. What unexpected life, or grace, or good has come forth from the experience?

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