If Only...

Thomas's Story Part 2 (Part 1 is here)

We made it back. I was worried which route Jesus would take. It was often hard to predict where Jesus was going. He chose the highway. I'd have felt safer using shortcuts and goat paths to avoid military checkpoints. Bethany was far too near Jerusalem for my liking.

We could hear wailing long before we reached the house, so we knew lots of people were there to grieve with Mary and Martha. If only Jesus had come back to Bethany sooner. Why did he wait so long when he might have healed Lazarus? Martha said it all when she ran out to meet him, "...if you had been here, my brother would not have died". Well it was too late now - at least we'd all come with Jesus to offer our condolences. I hoped he'd keep a low profile - surely no-one would arrest him for mourning with friends?

Jesus was gentle with Martha. We all nodded when Jesus told her "your brother will rise again". We believed in resurrection at the end of time when God would make everything new, like Isaiah prophesied. It's good to speak of that hope, but it doesn't make grief easier when someone you love has died. But Martha had great faith and through her tears she said she believed that.

What happened to me next is one of those things really hard to explain. It was like a window opening to a new world, like a glimpse of heaven, as if God stepped into time and lifted me into God's future. Jesus was always offering people life with a capital 'L'. I loved him for that. He'd given me a new outlook on life, shown a better way to live and love. I was sure he was the One sent from God we'd been waiting for. It still came like a lightning shock when he began to talk about himself actually BEING LIFE. I couldn't understand what he said, but his words had an authority that filled me with hope.  They seemed to have that effect on Martha too, in spite of her grief. I could see she sensed what I did. It was like being in the presence of God when Jesus said,

"I am the resurrection and the life.
Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,
and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"

Mural from St Lazarus Church, Bethany

This post is the 30th in a series of daily Lenten reflections based on a Bible reading from the Common worship Lectionary of the Church of England. This one is based on John 11: 17-27.

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