Archive for the ‘John 11’ Tag

Monday for Monday of Holy Week, Years A, B, C, and D (Humes)   1 comment

Above:  Bethany, 1894

Photographer = Daniel B. Shepp

Image in the Public Domain

A Faithful Response, Part III

APRIL 11, 2022


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Isaiah 42:1-9

Psalm 36:5-11

Hebrews 9:11-15

John 12:1-11


Psalm 36, taken in its entirety, contrasts evil people with God, whose steadfast love is precious.  That juxtaposition of human evil and divine steadfast love is evident in John 12:1-11, with the plot to kill the recently raised Lazarus (11:1-16) joining the plot to scapegoat and kill Jesus (11:45-57).  That juxtaposition is also present in the background in Hebrews 9:11-15.

The most likely identity of the faithful servant of God in Isaiah 42:1-9, in the original context, is the faithful Jews.  One might easily understand the identification of the servant with Jesus.  Furthermore, one might expand the identity of that servant to include all the faithful people of God–Jews and Gentiles alike.  Collectively we can do more than anyone of us laboring individually.  The spirit of God is upon us.  We have the responsibility to teach the true way to the nations, to bring forth that true way, to set prisoners free, and to liberate dungeon-dwellers.  We ought to live for the glory of God and the benefit of our fellow human beings, not for ourselves.

Jesus has shown us the way.









Devotion for Palm Sunday (Year D)   1 comment


Above:  Entry Into Jerusalem, by Giotto

Image in the Public Domain

The Sin of Religious Violence

APRIL 10, 2022


The Collect:

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236


The Assigned Readings:

Deuteronomy 11:1-17 or Isaiah 43:8-15

Psalm 94 or 35

John 8:48-59

Romans 1:8-15 (16-17) 18-32; 2:1-11 or Galatians 6:1-6 (7-16) 17-18


Accuse my accuser of Yahweh,

attack my attackers.

–Psalm 35:1, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)


That verse summarizes much of Psalms 35 and 94.  The plea of the persecuted for God to smite their enemies, although understandable and predictable, but it is inconsistent with our Lord and Savior’s commandment to love our enemies and to pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5:43).  Sometimes divine smiting of evildoers is a necessary part of a rescue operation, for some persecutors refuse to repent.  Nevertheless, I suspect that God’s preference is that all people repent of their sins and amend their lives.

We read in Deuteronomy 11 (placed in the mouth of Moses long after his death) of the importance of following divine laws–or else.  Then, in Isaiah 43, set in the latter phase of the Babylonian Exile, which, according to the Biblical narrative, resulted from failure to obey that law code, we read of impending deliverance by God from enemies.  Both readings remind us of what God has done for the Hebrews out of grace.  Grace, although free, is never cheap, for it requires a faithful response to God.  We are free in God to serve God, not be slaves to sin.  We are free in God to live as vehicles of grace, not to indulge inappropriate appetites.  We are free in God to lay aside illusions of righteousness, to express our penitence, and to turn our backs on–to repent of–our sins.

This is a devotion for Palm Sunday.  We read in John 8 that some Jews at Jerusalem sought to stone Jesus as a blasphemer (verse 59).  I suppose that they thought they were acting in accordance with Leviticus 24:10-23.  Later in the Fourth Gospel (Chapters 18 and 19) certain religious authority figures are complicit in his death–as a scapegoat (11:47-53).

This desire to kill those who offend our religious sensibilities strongly is dangerous for everyone.  It is certainly perilous for those who suffer because of it.  Furthermore, such violence causes spiritual harm to those who commit it.  And what if one’s judgment is wrong?  One has committed a most serious offense before God.  This tendency toward religious violence exists in various traditions, has a shameful past and an inexcusable present reality, and does nothing inherently to glorify God.  In fact, it detracts from the glory of God.  That God can work through such abominations committed in His name testifies to divine sovereignty.  Exhibit A is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.









Devotion for Saturday Before the Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year C (ELCA Daily Lectionary)   1 comment

Christ Before Pilate

Above:  Christ Before Pilate, by Mihaly Munkracsy

Image in the Public Domain

Jesus, Threat

APRIL 2, 2022


The Collect:

Creator God, you prepare a new way in the wilderness,

and your grace waters our desert.

Open our hearts to be transformed by the new thing you are doing,

that our lives may proclaim the extravagance of your love

given to all through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 29


The Assigned Readings:

Exodus 12:21-27

Psalm 126

John 11:45-47


When the LORD restored Zion

it was as though we were dreaming.

We could not speak for laughing,

we could only utter cries of joy.

Then the saying arose among the nations,

“The LORD has done something great with these people.”

The LORD has done something great with us;

we were delighted.

–Psalm 126:1-3, Harry Mowvley, The Psalms Introduced and Newly Translated for Today’s Readers (1989)


The remembrance of what God has done (as in Psalm 126) and was about to do (as in Exodus 12) was supposed to inspire reverence for God, measurable in various ways, including how people treated others.  The plot to scapegoat Jesus (in John 11) contradicted that ethic.

Celebrating Passover, the annual commemoration of God liberating the Hebrew slaves from Egypt, in occupied Jerusalem was politically sensitive.  Furthermore, the Temple was the seat of collaboration with the Roman occupying forces.  Jesus was a threat to the Temple authorities and, by extension, to their Roman overlords and partners.  When he entered the city at the beginning of that fateful week leading up to his crucifixion, Jesus arrived in the manner of a triumphant king en route to peace talks after a battle.  Our Lord and Savior, the Gospel of John makes clear, rejected offers to seek to expel the Romans, but many people, including Pontius Pilate, thought that Jesus might lead an insurrection.  Even after Pilate realized that Jesus was not a political rebel, he understood our Lord and Savior to be a threat nevertheless.  Jesus was a threat, but not in the way Pilate thought.

Jesus was a threat to a form of piety which privileged wealth and depended on a certain amount of it in a society which consisted primarily of illiterate peasants.  Jesus was a threat to religious legalism.  Jesus was a threat to religious practices which draped economic injustice in the cloak of piety.

Man Nobody Knows

Above:  The Table of Contents from The Man Nobody Knows:  A Discovery of the Real Jesus (1925), by Bruce Barton

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Jesus remains a threat to such practices in our time.  We cannot kill him again.  Besides, he did not remain dead for long the last time.  We are capable, however, of attempting to domesticate Jesus.  People left, right, and center have been engaged in this practice for a very long time.  One might, for example, ignore the Beatitudes and Woes from Luke 6:17-26, downplay or ignore his apocalyptic teachings, or portray him as always nice and smiling.  The genuine article, however, was–and remains–a threat to a variety of misconceptions about Jesus.  I like to think that, even if I had not grown up in the Christian faith, I would have become a Christian because of the portrayal of Jesus in the four canonical Gospels.

The remembrance of what God has done and some awareness of what God is doing compel me to have reverence for God.  Among the examples to which I point is Jesus.  His life invites me to examine my life.  Much of what he reveals to me makes me uncomfortable, but identifying a problem is the first step in correcting them.








Thirty-Fourth Day of Lent   12 comments

The Scapegoat, by William Holman Hunt (1854)


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Collect and lections from the Episcopal Lesser Feasts and Fasts Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints


Follow the assigned readings with me this Lent….

Kenneth Randolph Taylor


Ezekiel 37:21-28 (Revised English Bible):

[The Lord GOD has said:] say to them:

The Lord GOD has said: I am going to take the Israelites from their places of exile among the nations; I shall assemble them from every quarter and restore them to their own soil.  I shall make them a single nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king will be over them all.  No longer will they be two nations, no longer divided into two kingdoms.  They will never again be defiled with their idols, their loathsome ways, and all their acts of disloyalty.  I shall save them from all their sinful backsliding and purify them.  Thus they will be my people, and I shall be their God.  My servant David will be king over them; they will all have one shepherd.  They will conform to my laws and my statutes and observe them faithfully.  They will live in the land which I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your forefathers lived.  They and their descendants will live there for ever, and my servant David is to be their prince for ever.  I shall make an everlasting covenant with them to ensure peace and prosperity.  I shall greatly increase their numbers, and I shall put my sanctuary in their midst for all time.  They will live under the shelter of my dwelling; I shall be their God and they will be my people.  The nations will know that I the LORD am keeping Israel sacred to myself, because my sanctuary is in their midst for ever.

Psalm 85:1-7 (Revised English Bible):

LORD, you have been gracious to your land

and turned the tide of Jacob’s fortunes.

You have forgiven the guilt of your people

and put all their sins away.

You have withdrawn all your wrath

and turned from your hot anger.

God our saviour, restore us

and abandon your displeasure towards us.

Will you be angry with us for ever?

Must your wrath last for all generations?

Will you not give us new life

that your people may rejoice in you?

LORD, show us your love

and grant us your deliverance.

John 11:45-53 (Revised English Bible):

[Contextual note:  This reading occurs immediately after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.]

Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary [of Bethany], and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him.  But some of them went off to the Pharisees and reported what he had done.

Thereupon the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a meeting of the Council.

This man is performing many signs,

they said,

and what action are we taking?  If we let him go on like this the whole populace will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away our temple and our nation.

But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said,

You have no grasp of the situation at all; you do not realize that it is more to your interest that one man should die for the people, than that the whole nation should be destroyed.

He did not say this of his own accord, but as the high priest that year he was prophesying that Jesus would die for the nation, and not the for the nation alone but to gather together the scattered children of God.  So from that day they plotted his death.

The Collect:

O Lord, in your goodness you bestow abundant graces on your elect: Look with favor, we entreat you, upon those who in these Lenten days are being prepared for Holy Baptism, and grant your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


In this day’s readings we have the love and forgiveness of God juxtaposed with the faithlessness of people.  Ezekiel told of a restored Jewish nation, where the people would serve God and a member of the Davidic dynasty would rule the people.  And when Jesus the Messiah, of the lineage of David, arrived, many of the people unto whom he came rejected him.

The Jews of Judea lived under Roman occupation.  The Romans were paradoxical; they could be both tolerant and tyrannical.  They tolerated the exercise of Judaism as an old religion, exempting Jews from certain obligations, such as sacrificing to the gods for the sake of the empire.  Yet they cracked down severely on rebellions.  History tells of the First Jewish War, in which the Romans destroyed the Jerusalem Temple, and the Second Jewish War of the 130s, in which the Romans crushed a rebellion which a self-proclaimed Messiah led.

Let us consider more historical context.  The Feast of the Passover was near.  This was the annual commemoration of God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.  In Jesus’ day people celebrated this in Roman-occupied Jerusalem.  If any man were to declare himself the Messiah and lead the charge against the Romans, he would do so at Passover, a politically potent religious event.  The Romans, being aware of the potential security situation, patrolled this annual feast heavily.

Therefore, fears of a potential Roman crackdown because of Jesus’ activities were reasonable.  Yet the scapegoating of Jesus was not.  Scapegoating makes the scapegoaters feel better without solving any problems.  It is a way of appearing to do something constructive while doing something destructive.  This is especially harmful to the scapegoat.

Holy Week is next.  Let us take the final steps of Lent together.


Written on March 17, 2010

Posted October 29, 2010 by neatnik2009 in 2022, April 9, Episcopal Church Lectionary

Tagged with , ,

Fifth Sunday in Lent, Year A   23 comments

Above: The Raising of Lazarus, by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890

These Bones Can Live Again Or, Some Good Deeds Do Not Go Unpunished

MARCH 29, 2020


Ezekiel 37:1-14 (New Revised Standard Version):

The hand of the Lord came upon me, and he brought me out by the spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me all around them; there were very many lying in the valley, and they were very dry. He said to me,

Mortal, can these bones live?

I answered,

O Lord GOD, you know.

Then he said to me,

Prophesy to these bones, and say to them: O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. I will lay sinews on you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live; and you shall know that I am the Lord.

So I prophesied as I had been commanded; and as I prophesied, suddenly there was a noise, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. I looked, and there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then he said to me,

Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, mortal, and say to the breath: Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.

I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

Then he said to me,

Mortal, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, “Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are cut off completely.” Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord GOD: I am going to open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you back to the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and bring you up from your graves, O my people. I will put my spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you on your own soil; then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken and will act,

says the Lord.

Psalm 130 (New Revised Standard Version):

Out of the depths I cry to you , O LORD.

Lord, hear my voice!

Let your ears be attentive

to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,

Lord, who could stand?

But there is forgiveness with you,

so that you may be revered.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

my soul waits for the Lord

more than those who watch for the morning,

more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD!

For with the LORD there is steadfast love,

and with him is great power to redeem.

It is he who will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

Romans 8:6-11 (New Revised Standard Version):

To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For this reason the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law– indeed it cannot, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit that dwells in you.

John 11:1-45 (New Revised Standard Version):

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus,

Lord, he whom you love is ill.

But 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.

Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Then after this he said to the disciples,

Let us go to Judea again.

The disciples said to him,

Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?

Jesus 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. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.

After saying this, he told them,

Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.

The disciples said to him,

Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.

Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly,

Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.

Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples,

Let us also go, that we may die with him.

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus,

Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.

Jesus said to her,

Your brother will rise again.

Martha said to him,

I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.

Jesus said to her,

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?

She said to him,

Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.

When 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.

And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The 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. When 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.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said,

Where have you laid him?

They said to him,

Lord, come and see.

Jesus began to weep. So 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?

Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus 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.

Jesus said to her,

Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?

So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said,

Father, I thank you for having heard me. I 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.

When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice,

Lazarus, come out!

The 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.

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

The Collect:

Almighty God, you alone can bring into order the unruly wills and affections of sinners: Grant your people grace to love what you command and desire what you promise; that, among the swift and varied changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


My soundtrack for the writing of this post is part of Gustav Mahler’s monumental Symphony #2, the “Resurrection” Symphony.  The work is not Christian, and Mahler was at best a nominal Roman Catholic who converted from the Judaism he did not practice, either, to get a job.  But the man wrote wonderful music.  The portion of the “Resurrection” Symphony which attracts me now is the Urlicht movement, a soul-melting contralto solo, the lyrics of which (in English translation) follow:

O red rose!

Man lies in direst need!

Man lies in deepest pain!

I would rather be in heaven!

I came upon a broad path:

an angel came to me and sought to turn me back.

Ah no!  I would not be sent away!

I am from God and to God I will return!

Dear God will give me a light,

will light me to eternal, blessed life!

Then the final movement begins.  When the soloists and choir members sing the words (again in English translation) include:

Rise again, yea, thou shalt rise again,

my dust, after brief rest!

Mahler’s symphony concerns a dead hero who awakens in Heaven, so the context is somewhat outside the reading from the Johannine Gospel, but some of it works well, anyhow.

The author of the Fourth Gospel wrote of Jesus raising his good friend, Lazarus, from the dead.  The long portion of John 11 in the Revised Common Lectionary has a happy ending.  But read the rest of the chapter.  Some of Jesus’ religious enemies conspire to have him killed because of fear that spreading faith in Jesus will bring down the wrath of the Roman Empire on Judea, and it was allegedly better for one man, not a nation, to die.

The placement of this Gospel reading at this point in the lectionary is appropriate, for the next Sunday will be Palm (Passion) Sunday, the opening of Holy Week.  At this point in the church year the short countdown to the crucifixion of Jesus has begun.  The foreshadowing, present in some of the canonical Gospels since the birth narratives, will yield to unfolding drama and a climax.  The author of the Markan Gospel, the first of the canonical Gospels written, believed that the role of the Messiah was to suffer and die, not to be the conquering hero to expel the Roman occupiers and restore Israel to its Davidic glory.  New Testament scholars call this Markan view the Messsianic Secret, for, according “Mark,” whoever he was, the death of the Messiah revealed the identity and true function of the Messiah to all who paid attention.  Think of it this way:  Messiah 101 is that he must die.  But he has to die before this becomes readily apparent.  Writing of this nearly 2000 years later it seems obvious, but this was not the case at the time.

O, just one more thing.

There is a Medieval Roman Catholic tradition which states that Lazarus and his sisters became evangelists in Provence, France.  I do not know if the reality behind the tradition is fact or fiction, but I am certain of one proposition:  I would tell people that Jesus had raised me (or my brother, if one assumes the point of view of Mary or Martha) from the dead.


Written on June 19, 2010