5th Sunday of Lent - Cycle A
“Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40)
After learning that Lazarus is ill, Jesus waits two days to return to Bethany, so “the Son of God may be glorified through it.” However, He encounters many obstacles. The first obstacle: His own disciples try to dissuade Him from returning to a place where people tried to stone Him. The second obstacle: Martha and Mary separately confront Him, both saying, “Lord, if you had been here, but brother would not have died.” Jesus’ third obstacle: at the tomb, He commands the stone be removed, but Martha warns Him about the stench. Finally, he calls for Lazarus, who walks out alive.
Jesus faces doubt from his apostles, danger from the Jews, questions from Lazarus’ sisters, and the logistical complications of opening the tomb. What obstacles in our own lives get in the way of God’s glory? Are we, like the apostles, afraid to go where we are called? Or are we like Martha and Mary, who lay blame at Jesus’s feet and seek answers for the present moment?
When Martha goes to Jesus, He patiently leads her through her grief. Though she begins their conversation with an accusation, she ends it by saying, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world.” Similarly, Jesus helps us through every situation even when we want to blame Him rather than simply trust. After Martha has confessed her belief, she still gets hung up on the details at the tomb. Jesus reminds her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
Though we profess to believe in Jesus, it is easy to give into fear and doubt. We worry over what will happen in the future. We ask why bad things have happened in the past. Jesus does not promise that we won’t face illness, grief, or even death. He experienced all of these things Himself. He was willing to face suffering and death to save us from our sins. In the same way, our own sufferings can lead to greater good than we can imagine, if we are prepared to face whatever may come and trust in God’s glory.