Radio Show

Come Forth: Examining the Miracle of Lazarus With Father James Martin

Friend of the show and Jesuit priest Father James Martin stops by Father Dave’s radio studio to discuss his new book, “Come Forth: The Promise of Jesus’s Greatest Miracle,” which explores the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, as told in John’s Gospel

Father James explains how his pilgrimages to the Holy Land partially inspired the book. “We would go into Lazarus’ tomb, and I would say, ‘Leave something behind that you want to let die, and come out of the tomb and hear Jesus call you to come forth.’ It was really powerful for people;, they would cry,” he says. “I thought, if it’s an important [story] for me, and it seems to really resonate with a lot of people, why not write about it?”

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Father Dave shares his own experience in the Holy Land at the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. “It became one of my new favorite places to go in the Holy Land, I think largely because in a lot of the other places [there] and in a lot of other scenes in the Gospel, Jesus is like ‘star celebrity Jesus.’ But [the house of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus] is where he hung out with his friends, and he could kick off his sandals and be just him.”

Father James responds, “He also gets a little scolded from Martha, because Martha is doing all the work. She says to Jesus, ‘Don’t you care that my sister isn’t helping? She’s just sitting at your feet listening.’ It’s a great scene where she says to him one of the greatest quotes, ‘Tell her to help me.’ Who talks to Jesus like that? So you see Martha and Mary being good friends with Jesus and being honest with Jesus. I’ve talked about this in terms of how we need to be honest with God in prayer.”

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Before Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, Martha laments that if Jesus had arrived sooner, her brother would not have died. Father James explores why Jesus waited to come. “In John’s Gospel, Jesus is always in control; He will go when he goes,” Father James says, “I think one of the reasons Jesus doesn’t go is because he wanted people to know that Lazarus was dead…there’s a sense that, and Scripture scholars talk about, [Jesus wants] people to know what he’s doing. But also him being able to give something more to Lazarus than just healing, which is new life.”

They discuss the verse of this Gospel story when Jesus weeps after hearing of Lazarus’ death. “Why does he weep? Most people say he’s weeping because he’s so sad about Lazarus, but in the Greek [translation], the words that are used have to do with anger, believe it or not,” Father James says. “It’s a surprise for a lot of people, that the particular word is also used in other places where he’s angry or he’s frustrated…He could have wept for many reasons, kind of a mixture of emotions, but he’s angry; he’s frustrated by their lack of faith, which is really interesting.”