LAZARUS: The Man Jesus Loved
In the raising of Lazarus, the Gospel of John exemplifies the decisive power of Jesus over humanity’s last and most dictating enemy – death.
For the LGBTQ community, this resurrection story may well come to symbolize God’s promise of life to those excluded, marginalized or emotionally imprisoned. “Lazarus, come out!” commands Jesus in a loud voice, and to the people around, Jesus further directs, “Unbind him, and let him go!”
- A crucial event in the life of an LGBT person is the intimate interior recognition of one’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Sometimes, many years pass before this reality can become clear. Coming-out to oneself often gradually leads to a second crucial event: coming out to others. What has been your experience of coming to terms with your sexual orientation and/or gender identity? How has this recognition helped or hindered your coming-out to yourself and others? If you are an ally, how does this story relate to your “coming out” as an ally?
- Sometimes the pains and disappointments of life simply overwhelm us. We feel crushed, defeated, demoralized, shattered. When this happens, we cry out to God blindly, hoping and despairing in turns. In your own life-story, how has grief and hope worked together given your faith in Jesus?
- Jesus wept. In Jesus we have a vulnerable God who is not afraid to express emotions. Does this comfort or confuse you? Why?
- In coming out of the tomb, Lazarus is emerging from darkness and death to light and life. How do you see yourself in this metaphor?
- Have you heard the voice of Jesus say to you, “Come out?” If so, how was this voice manifested?
- The story ends with Jesus directing the local community to assist Lazarus with removing the symbols of the tomb and to let him go. What “grave clothes” is Jesus commanding others to take from you? How can church communities today assist LGBT people and allies in the coming-out process.