Reflections: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany

Daily Lectionary: 1 Samuel 14:47-15:9; Acts 24:1-23

“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.” (John 11:10)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today the Church commemorates three siblings and friends of our Lord: Mary, Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany. Jesus had friends! Sometimes we forget that. But Jesus calls His disciples “friends” (John 15:15). And Jesus had other friends as well, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus included.

In the two famous accounts of Jesus’ interaction with these friends, we see Jesus doing the kinds of things friends do. He visits Mary and Martha for a dinner party (Luke 10:38–42) and teaches them an important lesson about the priority of hearing His Word. Later, Jesus grieves over the death of their brother Lazarus (John 11). We can relate. We’ve probably all been over to a friend’s house for dinner, and many of us have grieved the death of a friend.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have Jesus as your friend? He who fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes might be a pretty awesome dinner guest. And look at what Jesus did for Lazarus, raising him from the dead! (Read John 11 for the whole story.) Being friends with Jesus is a wonderful thing!

You might think, “I could never be Jesus’ friend. He’s so powerful and holy, and I’m a dirty, rotten sinner. Even if He were my friend, I would just let Him down.” And there’s a lot of truth in that, for in your sin, you made yourself His enemy. You broke the relationship and betrayed your friend. There’s nothing you can do to ever make that right. Only Jesus can.

You have failed, but Jesus was faithful. “Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8). You have no truer friend than Jesus, who loved you while you were His enemy and gave His life for you. And He has made you His friend by the gift of faith.

One day soon, you will sleep as Lazarus slept. But fear not! Jesus, your true and faithful friend, who is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), will come to awaken you to eternal life. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Thee will I love, my life, my Savior, Who art my best and truest friend. Thee will I love and praise forever, For never shall thy kindness end. Thee will I love with all my heart—Thou my redeemer art. (“Thee Will I Love, My Strength, My Tower” LSB 694, st.2)

-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.