In every town Jesus travels through he encounters sinners and the sick. Bethany is no exception. Simon the Leper lives in Bethany. Mary the sinner is forgiven in Bethany. Lazarus is raised from the dead in Bethany.
On this Monday of Holy Week Jesus passes back through Bethany, the “House of Misery,” to dine with old friends. He is on his way to Jerusalem – on his way to death.
For Bethany, this meal with Jesus is a last supper.
John’s Gospel uniquely points Lazarus out at the table with Jesus. Lazarus was raised from the dead during Jesus’ previous visit to Bethany (in John 11) and the town is still electric with the story of Jesus’ miraculous defeat of Lazarus’ death. It was a last straw for the Chief Priests and Pharisees.
The Jews travel to Jerusalem to prepare for Passover, and there prepare to arrest Jesus and put him to death once He arrives.
What did Lazarus and Jesus talk about?
Death, I’m sure.
No doubt the story of Lazarus, his tomb, his burial clothes, and Jesus calling him from the grave was recounted again. It is a story that should end in smiling and laughing. But you could imagine this room filled with a soberness as Jerusalem looms, only two miles away. Many could guess the intentions of those who were plotting to arrest Jesus. A strange mutual understanding exists between Lazarus and Jesus.
The night of this dinner in Bethany, death is a guest.
Lazarus is a dead man, walking away from death. Jesus is a “dead man,” walking towards death. The disciples have a clue at this point, they must have heard the rumors, and Jesus had already begun to speak more often of His death.
Death sits at table with the dying. Death retells his story. His memories, his last thoughts from the cusp of death, and then – what? What happened before awaking wrapped and bound in a tomb?
His soul wretched from his body.
Suddenly Jerusalem seems too close.
Jesus will die. Could the Apostles be put to death as well? Could He raise himself from the dead? But there Lazarus sits. Eating and laughing and moving. He is ALIVE. There is no way around it. Lazarus was dead but now he is alive.
And in the middle of this strange dinner of the dead, the dying, the sick, and sinners, a fragrance like sweet flowers fills the room. Mary anoints the feet of Christ and wipes those sacred feet with her hair.
At THE Last Supper, did the Apostles remember Lazarus?
At the Last Supper, they are without a walking witness to Jesus’ power over death. Memory of their time with Jesus is all they have left. Memory and faith. They are on the eve of their Shepard being struck down and them being scattered. What would happen to Jesus? What might happen to them?
This week, at the Last Supper before Easter, place yourself at THE Last Supper. Your heart would be pounding; the fear of death sneaking into the room, assaulting your faith. Jesus speaks of His death. He breaks His body and shares it with you. Jesus washes your feet. And as the fear of death, yours and that of the Lord who lovingly washes your feet, slips into your mind, you try to repeat to yourself…
Founder of Reverb Culture, a community for Catholic Young Adults, Edmund Mitchell writes and speaks as a lay Catholic evangelist and creative.
Edmund has 5+ years experience working in Church ministry and has 4 years experience as a husband and father. He lives with his wife, four kids, and chickens in Fort Worth, TX.