The Rev. Canon Jan Naylor Cope
Many of the Jews who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what he had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the council, and said, “What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and destroy both our holy place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all! You do not understand that it is better for you to have one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed.” He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God. So from that day on they planned to put him to death.
“What are we to do? This man is performing many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him…” Jesus had just miraculously raised Lazarus from the dead, and that was the tipping point. While many of the Pharisees and religious authorities had heretofore considered Jesus a troublemaker, now he was a direct and dangerous threat to the religious leaders’ power. They feared the Romans would take their power away if Jesus gained more followers and caused a disturbance, so they planned to kill him.
One of the shadow sides of power is our need to be in control. During this uncertain time of the pandemic, we are anything but in control!
In his book, Jesus: A Pilgrimage, Jesuit James Martin describes his experience of visiting the traditional site of Lazarus’ tomb in Bethany. He realized his need to be vulnerable and to leave behind in the tomb those things in his life that needed to die in order to take on the new life Jesus offers. In short, he had to give up a false sense of control.
Our Lenten journey calls us to self-reflection. What in my life and yours needs to die? What in my life and yours do we need to leave behind in the tomb of Lazarus so that we, too, may experience what Jesus intends for each one of us – new life, healing, wholeness? May we hear Jesus call to us – Come out! Come out into the light, new life, renewed, restored and ready to go!
God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all who wait or work in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make them the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you. Amen.
Taken from A New Zealand Prayer Book—He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa’ (adapted)