Incarnate Love

John 11: 29 – 44

“When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

Jesus wept.

Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”

Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

In this climax of the story, the incarnation is on glorious display. Jesus – fully human and fully divine. Heaven touches earth. The Creator permeates creation. Athanasius said it this way, “That which is not assumed is not healed.” Richard Rohr says, “God loves things by becoming them.”

Jesus’ humanity is seen in his weeping and his spirit being moved and deeply troubled. There is a deep rage in the human spirit of Jesus – raging at the grief of his friends, raging at the disruption of death, raging at the realization of his own impending death. Things are not as they should be.

Jesus’ divinity is seen in the actual raising of Lazarus. A stinking, rotting corpse is called into radical re-integration. Life is called forth from death.

Fully human, fully divine. Co-mingling in love. Knowing grief and loss and pain and fear and the temptation to run away. And pulling on the truth of light and life and hope and God’s work of making all things right.

This is Jesus. This is the One who calls us his own.

Reflection Questions:

  1. The incarnation will always carry mystery for human understanding. As you reflect on the incarnation, what gives you hope?

  2. Imagine Jesus standing before the tomb quietly weeping. Why do you think he wept (afterall, he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead)?

  3. After Lazarus was raised he still needed to be unbound from the tight grave-clothes. What is binding you today?


Give us grace to glimpse the incarnation we are invited to increasingly participate in. Give us hope when it feels dark and decomposing. And grant us your power to call things into fuller life. Amen.

This Lenten reflection accompanies the Tell Your Pastor #imaffirming initiative. To learn more click here.

#imaffirming #lent

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