Summary: Jesus wants to be in relationship with us.
“The Resurrection and The Life”
People need friends.
We are social beings.
It’s an innate trait, undeniable and inescapable.
We crave human companionship.
As much as our inner cowboy might like the idea of riding off alone into the sunset, real people cannot thrive that way and will eventually make a friend of their horse, car or any other possible stand-in for a real human being.
It’s like in the movie “Cast-Away.”
Tom Hanks’ character is stuck on a deserted island.
He eventually makes it back the mainland, but while on the island his best friend is a volleyball that he names “Wilson,” and his friendship with that volleyball becomes instrumental to his ability to keep his sanity and survive on that island.
Social Scientist Gina Stepp writes the following: “How important is our need for social bonds?
So important that we come into the world with it, just as we arrive with a need for food and water, clothing and shelter.
If any of these requirements is missing, we fail to thrive.”
In our Gospel Lesson for this morning we are able to get an awesome glimpse of Jesus Christ—God-Made-Flesh.
We see Jesus, quite clearly as both human and divine.
What was Jesus like on this earth?
He loved all humankind.
He had a small band of 12 hand-picked disciples who were always by His side.
He had hundreds of other followers as well.
And he had some folks whom He was particularly close to.
Jesus had close human friendships.
We might even say that Jesus had best friends.
Have you ever thought of Jesus like that—as Someone so human that He needed friends?
One of Jesus’ best friends was a guy named Lazarus who lived with his sisters—Mary and Martha in a town called Bethany.
The word “Bethany” literally means “House of the Poor.”
And we find that Jesus seems to have spent a lot of time hanging out with Lazarus and his sisters in their modest home in one of the poorer sections of town.
He felt comfortable there in the hood.
He found that He had things in common with this family and community.
He shared meals with them, and hung out—talking, laughing and enjoying their company late into the night.
We all need people like that in our lives.
We all need places we can go where we know we are loved and accepted.
We all need to have places where we can go and just be ourselves, relax and enjoy human relationships.
No wonder, that in our Gospel Lesson for this morning, when Jesus comes upon Martha and Mary and the other people from the town of Bethany who were weeping over the death of Lazarus we are told that Jesus Himself was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
And “Jesus wept.”
Then some of the people said, “See how he loved him!”
The word used here for the love Jesus had for Lazarus is very telling.
Usually when we talk about the “love of God” we use the word “Agape.”
But in this particular instance the word used for “love” is “philia” which means “friendship,” or the kind of love which exists between close friends.
So what the people were really saying as Jesus wept was “See how much Jesus loved his dear friend Lazarus!”
Have any of you ever lost a particularly close friend?
What did that feel like?
What emotions did you experience?
That is what Jesus was experiencing in John Chapter 11.
Sometimes we forget that God is a God of relationships.
God created the first human beings in order to have a relationship with them.
And when they broke that relationship it broke God’s heart.
But it didn’t cause God to break His relationship with them.
Ever since Adam and Eve took that first bite of fruit God has been trying to “woo” us back into relationship with Himself.
God loves us.
God wants to be in relationship with us.
And Jesus invites us into a relationship of friendship.
Listen to Jesus speak to His disciples in John Chapter 15: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends…”
Studies show that we are largely shaped and influenced by our friends.
So, it should come as no surprise that when we live in relationship with Jesus our lives are changed, transformed—resurrected, if you will, just as Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life!!!
No wonder He says to Martha: “I am the Resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
Real life, resurrected life begins in the here and now—as we put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and our Lord.