To Bethany

{This is the start of a series of articles looking at the death of Lazarus}
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister MarthaJohn 11:1
Bethany is a town that Jesus visits several times in scriptures. It is here that Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with oil. It is here that Mary and Martha fall out over the importance of doing household duties verses resting at the feet of Jesus. Simon the leper lived there, and it is believed there was possibly a leper and sick person carehome situated there. And it is here that Jesus would later return just before his final journey to Jerusalem, the one that would end on a cross. Bethany is a real place and it is important to remember that when we read the Bible – we are reading about the real Messiah, who walked through real Israel. Bethany is about 1.5 miles east of Jerusalem, on the slopes of the Mount of Olives. And it is when we look at the details like that help us ground Jesus into a real place and time that we remember that this book is not some abstract collection of commands and thoughts, but is an account of the God who loves us so much that He came down from His throne to reach out to us.
It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and LazarusJohn 11:2-5
Jesus was a guy with friends. He had strong personal connections with Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They were a family he spent time with and knew well. He cared closely about them. He loved them. In this section two Greek words for love are used.  In John 11:3 we have the Greek word “philein”, which expresses natural affection such as a parent feels for a child. In verse 5 we have “agapan”, an affection resulting from moral choice, a less impulsive form of love. We are told of the Lord’s love that we may understand that his delay was not due to indifference. He had love for Mary, Martha and Lazarus, he cared about them, and he loves and cares about us too. Let that soak in. Jesus loves you. You. Sinful you. Crazy you. Messed up you. Lonely you. Broken you. Hurting you. Jesus loves you. No matter how you feel, no matter what you’ve done, He loves you. The cross is proof of His love for you.
The Bible recounts real events from real places of the God who really loves us.

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