Jesus can give us life that death can’t erase. He has the power to do that no matter what the obstacles are that bind us. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead to help us understand the power of God, to help us see that God has control over every kind of death.
The glow of the moon leaves cold circles of light on the rooftop of the Pharisee’s home. He has waited for the darkest part of the night to meet with his guest. He often goes to great lengths to avoid the prying eyes of self-righteous neighbors. Eagerly, he converses with the visiting Teacher.
Of all the literature produced by the early Syrian church, the most prized was composed by Ephrem the Syrian, often called “The Harp of the Holy Spirit.” One of his hymns memorializes the faith of the Samaritan woman whom Jesus met at the well and sent forth as a missionary (see John 4).
The king was desperate. He was a God-fearing man and from his youngest age he had sought God. Now, trying to rid God’s people of idols, he had undertaken major repairs in the Lord’s temple but he had just realized that his efforts were insufficient. His secretary had just brought back a book from the temple—a lost book found by the high priest during repairs. After reading the book, the king realized that despite all his religious training, all his faith, all his attempts at doing what he thought was right, he had been wrong. His priests had been wrong. His people had been wrong. This was the book of the law of God which said “You shall have no other God before me” and warned of the curses against Israel if they did not obey the law. The king was now aware of the remaining idols in the temple and all the false gods around the country to whom Judah was making offerings. The Lord’s feasts such as Passover were barely celebrated, and the covenant was forgotten. The king was appalled. This could mean terrible disaster for his nation because, having forgotten God’s law, they were under his wrath. The king convened his highest ranking officials: his secretary, his attendant, the high priest, and a couple of others. He ordered them to inquire of God for himself and the people of Judah to find out what, if anything, could be done.
You are probably among the masses of people who have never heard my name. It is mentioned in only one sentence in Holy Writ. There were only a very few of us—at least of those whose story was remembered by any except family and close friends. For those few who have read Paul’s letter to Philemon, I was understood as the wife of Philemon. Philemon, Apphia, and Archippus were understood to be husband, wife, and son respectively, according to the tradition. However, if one examines the text carefully one sees the address to Philemon the beloved, to Apphia the sister, and to Archippus the fellow soldier. The three of us are addressed on the same plane, rather than in any hierarchical fashion.