This dialogue imagines Sarah and Hannah, two women from Bethany, discussing the passing of Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary. An urgent message had been sent to their friend, Jesus. Why hasn't he arrived?

Bethany was a small town less than three kilometres from Jerusalem. Sarah and Hannah had met at the market-place and were now on their way home.
SARAH:The dates are good this year, Hannah, so are the almonds.
HANNAH:I bought some extra today to go with these lovely fresh fish.
SARAH:Rather sad about Mary and Martha's brother, isn't it?
HANNAH:Lazarus? Yes, it is.
SARAH:Pity their friend Jesus wasn't here!
HANNAH:The teacher from Nazareth?
SARAH:There are so many stories about him healing the sick.
HANNAH:Lazarus was very violently ill.
SARAH:I heard that Mary tried to send a message to Jesus, but he didn't get it.
HANNAH:What I heard was that Jesus has been over the Jordan, near where that fellow John was baptising people.
SARAH:That doesn't seem far at all!
HANNAH:My husband went to hear John. Wasn't away for more than a day or two.
SARAH:If Jesus got the message in time, why didn't he come?
HANNAH:If he got the message too late, why hasn't he come? He was a close family friend.
SARAH:It's too late now. It's four days since Lazarus was buried.
HANNAH:Poor Martha and Mary! How are they taking it?
SARAH:Mary, in particular, is quite distraught. She's the one who was helped so much by Jesus. Had been such a blot on the name of Bethany. Has become such a strong, good and beautiful person.
HANNAH:I think all Bethany would agree with you there.
SARAH:But Jesus hasn't come - not yet - and it's too late!
Too late? Was Jesus too late? He had received the message all right, but delayed his departure. To return towards Jerusalem was to face his enemies and the dangers of their schemes, as well as meet his friends in their grief and need. It was to set in train a whole course of events. Was he too late? What can he do?
Reader:John 11.17-44.

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, (c) Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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