John 11:45-57

Many of the Jews therefore, 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.

Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.

Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Reflection – Jill Hudson

At the 2021 CBF Women’s Fall Retreat, Terri Byrd preached on the passage that is just before the one for today: the resuscitation of Lazarus.  She absolutely brought down the house with her three part sermon on this family (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus) and their relationship with Jesus.  It is important for us to look at the passage before ours for today because our passage for today starts with, “That was a turnaround for many of the Jews who were with Mary” (MSG). When a passage starts with “that,” we need to look for what “that” is!  Lazarus has just been resuscitated and Jesus has called him out from the grave, with the thrilling, “Lazarus, come out!”  But what gets overlooked is the last phrase that Jesus utters in that story.  The last thing he says is a command to those who were standing and watching it all happen.  He says, “Unwrap him and let him loose” (MSG).  At the retreat, Terri spoke about how “it is the un-binders who are great in the kingdom of God.”  She pointed out that Jesus could have easily untied Lazarus.  I mean, He had just brought Lazarus back to life again!  Surely, Jesus could have untied Lazarus from his funeral dressings!  Jesus could have done it all by Himself, but instead, he asks those who are gathered to participate in the un-binding of Lazarus.  

At this point, those who are present have two options: help unbind or leave him bound.  Those who help to unbind will follow a path of amazement and curiosity, while those who do not untie him will follow a path of frantic decisions made in fear.  From our perspective, it doesn’t seem like much of a choice, does it?  

Being a mathematician and a teacher, I often think in flow charts.  The following is a flow chart of where those two choices lead. 

We’re still at that same crossroads as those who witnessed the resuscitation of Lazarus.  We have a choice: unbind or leave bound.  At the retreat, Terri encouraged us, saying, “We can be the women who unbind the world.”  I echo her thoughts and expand them to all of us Crosscreekers.  We can be the women, men, youth, children, teachers, preachers, engineers, workers, retirees, golfers, volunteers, and ministers who unbind the world.