With the Fifth Sunday in Lent we are approacing the drama of the Holy Week, during which we recall the events leading up to Jesus’s arrest, trial and death.
And at this point, before the grim reality of those days, we are often asked to remember that following his death comes the Resurrection – the moment in history which guarantees us, as believers, that life is possible after death.
This week’s reading is, in many ways, the prophesy of this. Lazarus is dead. His sisters are mourning, and there are many witnesses who have come out from Jerusalem to mourn with them and console them. Jesus also arrives, and he mourns, too. But he will do more than mourn: he calls the dead Lazarus from the tomb, and the man who was dead hears his call and comes out.
There is no explanation for this miracle, just the promise that when we are called by the Christ, we too will be able to live again.
John’s telling of the story ends by telling us that many who saw this began to believe in Jesus; but also that some went to the Pharisees, the implication being that from this moment, for whatever reason, the events of Holy Week were placed in motion.
It is a reminder that before the Resurrection a sacrifice – for us, that will be the sacrifice of giving up our personal ambition, and instead following God’s law – must be made.