John 11:38-44

My best friend Kayla has a lot of trouble sleeping. She has insomnia, and her chronic pain can be excruciating, especially when she’s in a new bed. Her favorite part of any trip is the moment she lays down in her own bed again. The relief she feels is exquisite. 

After four days of death, I imagine everyone in today’s passage feeling an exquisite relief as Lazarus emerges from the tomb. They also feel astonishment. Perhaps a bit of fear. But mostly immense relief because Mary and Martha are no longer destitute. Their home will no longer feel strange or empty. The city gate where the elders meet will no longer have a missing member. Eyes sore from tears, voices hoarse with wailing are startled into new expressions and sounds. The community as a whole and its individual members are all relieved by this resurrection.

But imagine Lazarus himself experiencing the most thorough relief. Jesus says to the crowd of his neighbors, “Unbind him, and let him go” (v. 44). Now fully freed, released from death and his funeral wrapping, this is a time for rejoicing. Muscles that haven’t moved in four days can now flex and stretch. He can swing his limbs and walk on his own. His chest expands, his spirit unfurls. What exquisite relief. 

Where in your life would you most welcome relief? What is the first thing you would do once your spirit unfurled?


Is there a hole in your community or home? Can you imagine what relief would feel like if it came by miracle or by slow growth and healing?


God of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, thank you for the ways you are planning to bring relief and new life to us. Help us to recognize your efforts and respond with rejoicing, just as the people of Bethany did. Amen.

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