Death and Glory!
Mighty God, You turn the tables. In loving and adoring You, may I obey to Your glory and to my joy.
Read John 11:1-16
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“If you die with Jesus Christ, God will walk you out of your tomb into a life of incomparable joy and purpose inside his boundless and incomparable love” (Dallas Willard, 1935-2013). What a promise!
The historical setting is really important here. There have already been five attempts to arrest or murder Jesus (John 7:30,32; 8:59; 10:31,39), against the background of a persistent plot to kill him (John 5:18; 7:1).
In 10:39 Jesus slips away from the latest attempt, crossing the Jordan to a much safer place, but then comes the word that Lazarus, who lives right next to Jerusalem where Jesus’ enemies are all based, is ill, and his sisters want Jesus to know (3). Will he go back?
This leads us straight into the strangest feature of this story. Jesus assures his disciples (apparently) that the illness is not serious (4), so presumably they are relieved that he doesn’t immediately rush back to Bethany. But then he horrifies them by changing his mind (7,8), and tells them that Lazarus is dead (14). Of course they must now go–but Thomas knows what this will mean. Both he and they are putting their heads into the noose (16); and so we realize that Jesus will restore Lazarus’s life at the cost of not protecting his own. He will die, for Lazarus. Thus through the drama of this story John points us to the very heart of the Gospel message.
The key verse is 15: “For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus deliberately allows Lazarus and his sisters to taste the horror of death, so that they and Jesus’ disciples may learn the glorious truth that he is “the resurrection and the life” (25). Do you think that he does this still? This is to turn light and darkness inside out, because he alone is the true light of this world (9,10).
As you enter this story, step into the shoes of Mary and Martha, and picture how you would pray.
Loving Lord, death has such a finality about it. Separation, shattered dreams, a recalibration of life. Give me a clear perspective on life and death and of the hope there is in Christ.
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