Lent Day 8 - LIFE OF CHRIST, by Fulton Sheen
LENT DAY 8 – Thursday March 14
“Many were the attempts on the life of Christ, particularly when He declared Himself to be the Son of God. But His death was formally decided upon when He showed His power over death by the resurrection of Lazarus. “From that day forward, then, they plotted His death.” (John 11:53)
Previously, He often spoke of His death first, and then His Resurrection. This time He spoke of His Resurrection first as His enemies appointed His death. The empty tomb of Lazarus provoked the decision to give Him a Cross; but He in return would give up the Cross for the empty tomb.
It was not the first time He had spoken of His Resurrection. Early in His public life, when He fed the multitudes and promised Himself as the Bread of Life, He said that He would give resurrection to others. “All those who believe in the Son I am to raise up at the last day…” (John 6:40) These words went beyond predictions of His Own Resurrection; they were an affirmation that all who believed in Him and lived by His Risen Life would enjoy resurrection through His power.
Previously, He had raised at least two others from the dead. One was the daughter of Jairus, the other was the son of the widow of Naim. The first had just died; the second was already in his coffin; but the most astounding of all was Lazarus.
When Our Blessed Lord arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had already been buried for four days… When the news came of the arrival of Jesus, Martha, the active one, rose up and went out to meet Him, while Mary remained in the house. Martha had some confidence in the power of Christ, but it was still a very limited one, for she told Him: “If Thou hadst been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:22) When Our Lord said that her brother would rise again, Martha acknowledged that he would, in the general resurrection on the last day… Martha, though believing in the resurrection, did not know that the Resurrection was standing before her. “I am the Resurrection and Life.” (John 11:25)… By combining the two, He affirmed that in Him was a life which, by dying, rises to perfection; therefore death was not the end, but the prelude to a resurrection in the newness and fullness of life.
Lazarus came from the tomb with the graveclothes wrapped about him; the loving hands of his sisters removed the towel that covered his face; and he who had been captive by death was restored to life. Here in the full glare of a noonday sun, in the presence of hostile witnesses, a man who had been dead for four days was restored to life in a moment.
As the sun shines on mud and hardens it, and shines on wax and softens it, so too this great miracle of Our Blessed Lord hardened some unto unbelief, and softened others unto belief. Some believed; but the general effect was a resolve to put Our Lord to death.
Caiphas, the high priest… offered a solution which contained more truth than he suspected. “You have no perception at all; you do not reflect that it is best for us if one man is put to death for the sake of the people, to save a whole nation from destruction.” (John 11:51) Little did Caiphas realize the significance of his words, that it was expedient that One Man should die for the nation rather than the whole nation perish… Caiaphas unconsciously affirmed that Christ was an offering for the Jewish people, and for all people. His death would be vicarious; His life would be a sacrifice for others… Our Lord had said that He came to give His life as a ransom for sinful humanity; Caiphas said it, too, without realizing what he said. The Good Shepherd would die in order that there might be “one fold and one Shepherd”.
A resurrection sealed His death. Because a stone had been rolled away from a grave and a dead man called back to life, authorities now decreed that a stone should be rolled in front of His grave.”
(Chapter 31, pgs. 530-532, 538-540, 544, 546-548)
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