April 9, 2009

Thursday, April 9, John 17:1-26

We continue with our journey to Easter with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.
(By Cynthia Davis)

“I must speak to Lazarus!” a man’s urgent voice roused the household.
Mary sat up, her heart pounding with fear of the unknown. She saw Martha hurry past her doorway and listened to Lazarus’ heavy footsteps on the stairs.
“What is it Jacob?” her brother asked the visitor.
“Something is going to happen tonight,” was the reply.
Martha interrupted sharply, “What do you mean?”
Mary leaned forward. She clasped her hands tightly together, not sure if she was praying or keeping them from shaking.
“You know I let Jesus and his disciples use my upper room tonight for the Passover.” Jacob explained.
“Yes,” Lazarus replied. “He thought that he might make it more dangerous for me if he came here.”
“Even though I was not in the room, I could hear the conversation,” slowly the guest began. “Jesus acted the Passover host and said the prayers and blessings. They weren’t the same as usual, though.”
“Not the same?” Martha sounded shocked.
Mary smiled slightly. “Sister, sister,” she whispered into the darkness of her room.
“Let Jacob explain,” Lazarus ordered.
“I heard him say something about the bread being his body and the wine his blood of a new covenant,” Jacob continued.
“Jesus often speaks mysteriously,” agreed his host.
“It was his final prayer that I came to talk to you about, though. He sounded as if he were giving a farewell blessing.”
“No,” Mary whispered. She shook her head and a chill rippled through her. Slowly tears began to flow down her cheeks when Jacob began to repeat the words of the Master.
“He said, ‘I finished the work you gave me to do. Father, glorify me with the glory I had before the world existed. I have made you known to those you gave me. They have kept your word and know that I came from you.’”
“That is beautiful,” Martha sounded awed when the man paused for breath.
Lazarus mumbled, “That is almost like what he said a few days ago when the Greeks came to speak to him.”
“There is more,” Jacob continued. “Jesus sounded not sad, but exalted when he started praying for the disciples. He said, ‘I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world. I am coming to you. Father protect them, that they may be one, as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them. I gave them your word and the world hates them. I don’t ask you to take them out of the world, but to protect them because they don’t belong to the world. Sanctify them with the truth, which is your word. I send them into the world and for their sake I sanctify myself.’ It was like he was giving a final blessing.”
“He was,” Lazarus said heavily. “Our Master was saying goodbye.
Martha burst out almost angrily, “But why? Where is he going?”
“Sister, Jesus knew his work was coming to an end. He knew that his teaching made the Levites jealous. By chasing the merchants out of the Temple he made the High Priest angry. He knew that when he raised me to life, it would put him at odds with the Temple leadership. I think Jesus knew that he would not be among us much longer. Remember how he told Mary to keep the ointment for his burial.”
“No! He has friends! Can’t you do anything?” the woman started sobbing.
“Martha, I don’t think Jesus is afraid to face whatever comes,” Jacob tried to comfort her. “He prayed that those who he loved might see his glory. He said the Father loved him before the beginning of the world.”
“All of his teaching has been about love,” Lazarus agreed softly. “Sister, whatever happens, Jesus will face it will love.”
“You must try and stop him from throwing his life away,” the woman did not seem to hear her brother.
Mary softly entered the room. “Come, Martha, we must let our brother decide what is best to do.”
“Where did they go after the meal?” Lazarus turned to Jacob.
“They went to the Garden beyond the wall where they have often stayed,” he replied.
Lazarus shook his head and sighed, “It is the first place the authorities will look. Come, though, let us see if we can intervene.”
Quickly the man threw on his outer cloak and sandals. He and Jacob hurried from the house and up the hill toward Jerusalem.
“You see,” Mary held her older sister and rocked back and forth. “They are going to see what can be done.”
“It will not be enough,” sobbed Martha.
Mary did not reply. Tears ran down her cheeks. She knew her sister was right.

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