The story of Lazarus is a story of response to the miracles of God. When Jesus’ raised Lazarus from the dead, different people responded in different ways. And I come away wanting to have a dinner party to celebrate what God has done in my own life…
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
This dinner party was held in Jesus’ honour because he had raised Lazarus from the dead. These were Jesus’ close friends, and so he was there with his disciples, and a crowd had gathered outside to see Lazarus who had risen from the dead. Why? Resurrection is a big deal. We die. We don’t die and come back to life. And so any person who does come back to life is a living miracle of God.
There are several responses to Lazarus’ rising in this story.
His family threw a party for Jesus. They celebrated Jesus’ miracle. Mary poured perfume on Jesus’ feet in an act of worship and thanksgiving.
Judas continued to put himself and his love of money ahead of celebrating God. When he saw Mary’s response, he balked because it was an opportunity cost for him – less donations in the money bag, which he responsible for…
The crowds outside gathered to see if Lazarus was really alive. They are the skeptics who come for the spectacle and might stay and believe if it turns out to be true.
And the chief priests add Lazarus to their plans. Not only do they need to kill Jesus to get him out of the way, they must also kill Lazarus to stifle the miracle, which is bringing more people to Jesus.
Which brings me back to me. How do I respond when God works a miracle? I have to confess there is a chance I have been in each of these camps in my life. Whenever we put our own interests ahead of God’s (which we do all the time), we can respond like the crowd, Judas, or the priests.
When we are tuned into the Spirit, however, we celebrate and worship God for his grace in action. I want to throw a dinner to celebrate what God has done in my life. Wanna come?