Do You Believe in Lazarus?
When the great crowd learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the people were deserting and believing in Jesus.
—John 12:9–11 (NRSV, excerpted)
MOLLY BASKETTE | Talk about sawing off the branch you are sitting on. The chief priests’ whole job is to foster closeness between God and the people. But now, because Jesus has actually demonstrated the power of the living God in raising Lazarus from the dead, the religious authorities want to put both Jesus and Lazarus to death—to disappear the evidence, as it were.
It’s easy to vilify the chief priests—and let’s pay attention to the antisemitism embedded in that reading, by the way. But we and our churches have also been guilty of burying the evidence of the resurrecting God-still-at-work-in-the-world.
We have worried over budgets and spreadsheets, stayed in leadership positions long past our effectiveness because we don’t have confidence in the newbies, trusted only what our eyes and ears can tell us, and secretly believed that God is dead and the age of miracles has passed. We are far too intellectual and lucid to fall for actual resurrection, and our churches have become odes to emptiness. Would we know a miracle if it hit us in the face, like a Lazarus staggering stinking from the tomb? (Not all miracles smell like a rose garden). Or would we say, “it’ll never work—and it’s never been done that way.”
The chief priests are not an Other. They are an aspect of ourselves, scared to turn over power to others, harboring a reluctance to be “taken in” by the unexpected and even impossible. Yet every day God is resurrecting us: sending us people, ideas, attitudes, possibilities that can change everything.
PRAYER Quiet my inner priest, and show me the miracle, even if it stinks at first. Amen.About the Writer:
MOLLY BASKETTE pastors at First Church Berkeley (CA) United Church of Christ. She is the author of several books about church renewal, parenting & faith, and spirituality.

Source: “Running from Empty” | 2023 Lent Devotional by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group, made up of United Church of Christ ministers and writers who collaborate on resources for people in the church, outside the church, and not sure about the church.