Lent asks of us to make a deep commitment to learning, reflection, and walking the hard path of intention. If we take the Ash Wednesday exhortation to heart, the weeks of Lent will be a powerful, personal journey of discovery and connection.

The Gospel readings for second through fifth Lenten Sundays are all stories from John’s Gospel. Each starts with a difficult question or situation and lead to a miraculous moment between Jesus and the ones to whom he is ministering. In each of the stories we hear in Lent, the person is healed, reconciled, or resurrected – unbound by what kept them from being whole. That is a transformative journey.

On the fifth Sunday of Lent, we hear the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. This is a tender and human story, revealing a window into the emotion that Jesus feels. Lazarus is not an unnamed person who is brought to Jesus for healing, or someone who encounters him on a road or in a village. Lazarus is a close friend, someone Jesus loves. Jesus is deeply moved and weeps at his grave, before directing the tomb to be opened, commanding Lazarus to come out and charging Lazarus’ friends and family to, “Unbind him and let him go.”

Jesus’ direction “Unbind him and let him go” is an appeal for us to strip away distractions so that we may be able to focus on what we observe, hear, feel about the story of Jesus’ final journey toward Jerusalem. May this Lenten season be a time to be unbound, freed to reflect on the things that keep us connected to each other, and connected to God.


Questions for Reflection

What are other points in Jesus’ ministry that reveal his emotions? What does it mean to have a God who has emotions?

What is keeping you bound? What are some of the distractions or details keep you from seeing the essential point or moment?

(Inspired by the writing of The Reverend Canon J. Davey Gerhard)