An Indian peasant had a lifelong passion to visit Bombay. He talked about traveling there so often that his friends and neighbors eventually collected enough money to pay for the trip. When the day for his departure arrived, everyone gathered at the outskirts of their village to wish him well and see him off. The peasant thanked everyone for making his trip possible and started walking down the road to the big city to fulfill his dream. But to everyone’s surprise, he returned much earlier than expected. When they asked him if anything had happened to stop him from reaching the city, he answered, “Nothing.” He assured them his trip went well and he had seen Bombay. When someone asked him what Bombay was like, he responded, “It’s quite a sight! About a foot and a half high, two feet long, green, with yellow letters spelling out B-O-M-B-A-Y.” He’d gone no further than the sign marking the city limits, read it, and returned to his village, content He’d gone no further than the sign marking the city limits, read it, and returned to his village, content that his lifelong dream had been fulfilled.
If we just read or hear the scriptures without realizing they’re pointing to something else, we’re imitating the peasant’s behavior. We zero in only on the stories we ignore the truth in the depth of the passage. For instance, the rising of Lazarus has both a literal meaning --- Lazarus’ own return from the dead and a deeper level meaning – the giving of life to all people. On the literal plan we see a man who was dead four days, Jesus who is moved to tears and calls Lazarus to come out. The raising of Lazarus draws others to believe in Jesus.
On a deeper level several things are taking place.
Notice Jesus delays in going to Bethany. Like the miracle of the water into wine, where Jesus says his hour has not come, Jesus going to Bethany was on his Father’s timetable and not that of human need. Jesus also speaks of Lazarus being asleep. For the gospel writer being asleep referred to being connected to God and death being disconnected from God. There was an understanding that the soul stayed around for 3 days, by the fourth day there would have been no hope for resurrection. The message is that God does act in our lives but not always according to our timetable. That nothing is hopeless for God.Notice that as Lazarus comes from the tomb others must remove the wrappings and the cloth. We too need to help others. The power of the resurrection is present now. Lifting us from our tombs such as low self-esteem, doubt, peer pressure, sadness/heart ache, anger, or resentment. It is these moments that assure us of the lasting resurrection.
In these remaining days of Lent, take the time to explore the depths of a scripture passage, don’t stop at the outskirts but venture to the center and along the way discover the gems God has set out for you.
Continued blessings on your Lenten Journey.