John 11:1-45 – Unbind him and let him go

John 11:1-45

1Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

7Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

17When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”

28When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35Jesus began to weep. 36So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

45Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

  • Light a candle to remember Christ’s presence with you.
  • Sit five to fifteen minutes in silence bringing your attention to the Breath.
  • Today, imagine you are Lazarus.
  • You are alone in the tomb.
  • You are bound by death.
  • You are alone and bound, but there is a shimmer of light that shines around the door of the tomb that is filled with the hope of the new life that is to come.
  • Notice where you are bound.
  • Begin to breathe into the place that you are bound.
  • Invite the Breath to breathe new life into this place.
  • Feel the pulse begin to be restored.
  • Notice how this new life wants to move and be freed.
  • Hear the crowd outside the tomb that is weeping for you.
  • See the light shine in the darkness as the door of the tomb is rolled away.
  • Let the light bring you energy.
  • Hear the words of Jesus, “Lazarus, come out!”
  • See yourself walking out of the tomb.  Inhale the life around you.  Exhale the death that bound you.
  • See the people who were weeping are now dancing with joy.
  • Jesus tells them to unbind you.
  • Who will be the ones in the crowd to unbind you and let you go.
  • Who will be the ones to free you from the funeral cloth?
  • Allow them to unbind you.
  • Embrace the freedom.
  • What is your message from God?
  • Give thanks to God for this time in prayer and for any new insights you have received.
  • Share as you feel led in the reply box below.

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, April 2, 2017, the Fifth Sunday in Lent (Year A)

Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45

If you use these prayers in other groups, please give credit to author. Permission to use in not-for-profit settings (c) 2017 The Rev. Lil Smith, M.Div., DASD

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About Lil Smith

My simple life… is not simple at all. Yet it is so simple when I let God lead me. I have been married to Greg for 26 years and we have three wonderful children. My simple life is not simple at all. Yet it is so simple when I let God take control. I followed God’s call to begin seminary at Perkins School of Theology in January 2006. I graduated in May 2011. My life is not simple at all. Yet it is so simple when I listen for God’s call. I began the Degree in the Art of Spiritual Direction at San Francisco Theological Seminary in January 2009. I graduated in May 2011. My life is not simple at all. Yet it is so simple when I listen for God's call. I was ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA and spent three amazing years in Pastoral Ministry at Highland Springs Senior Living in Dallas, TX. My life is not simple at all. Yet it is so simple when I listen for God's call. My passion is the Christian Spiritual Life. As a spiritual director and retreat leader, I am so blessed to hear how God is at work in the world. How is God at work in your life?
This entry was posted in Breathe, Faith, Freedom, Gospel of John, Lectionary, Revised Common Lectionary and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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