In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.
Read Luke 10:38-42 and John 11: 1-37; 12: 1-3
Jesus not only had disciples with whom he had close relationships, but he also developed deep friendships, especially with a family from Bethany. Two were sisters, Mary and Martha, and the other was their brother Lazarus. The encounters with this family were deeply significant to Jesus and very meaningful to the three siblings. In fact, so important that we find him in their home during times when each would experience the fullness of his presence, power and peace.
The Gospels record for us a small handful of such encounters. On one such visit Jesus is reminding Martha that even though she has the gift of hospitality, there are times when such worrying and scurrying about can distract one from spiritual receptivity. He points to Mary her sister, who took time for uninterrupted listening and pondering at his feet. Instead of being upset about many things, only one thing is needed: attentiveness to the voice of Jesus.
On another occasion, Mary and Martha are searching for Jesus to heal their brother Lazarus. His sickness had overcome him to the point of death. They believed that Jesus could restore him from his sickness, but didn’t fully realize he could also raise him from the dead. When Jesus finally makes it to their home, Lazarus has died. Jesus weeps. He loved Lazarus and was sad that he had died. So, he prayed to his Father in heaven, and asked them to roll away the stone where Lazarus had been buried for four days. And, for the glory of God to be released in their presence, Lazarus was raised from the dead.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” These words came true in their incredible encounter with Jesus who powerfully demonstrated the truth of God’s Word in raising Lazarus from the dead. The peace that filled their souls from this fresh encounter with Jesus deepened their affection as friends and devoted followers of God.
Later we see Mary taking a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, pouring it on Jesus’ feet, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. The presence of the Spirit of God rested on that household as together they prepared for Jesus’ final days on earth. The perfume had been saved for his burial, an offering of their devotion to Christ.
You too are a friend of Jesus. You too can offer your finest fragrance of love for his glory during Lent.
Behold him in the homestead of his dearly loved friends; believe in his power to perform a miracle of grace and healing in your midst; belong to those who pursue his daily companionship; and become a disciple who knows that only one thing matters: unhurried friendship with Jesus now and for all eternity.