Wednesday, September 28, 2022

John 11:17-27

John 11:17-27
English Standard Version 

  Christianity doesn't ask us to believe in an abstract concept.  Christianity asks us to put our faith in a person, in a specific individual who lived in a specific time and place, who walked the dusty streets of Galilee and had specific conversations with specific people.  He was real, and is attested to in the documents of history, and we put our faith in him.  He's also willing to show us the way, to show us that he's willing to do anything that he asks of us.  He doesn't command from afar -- he invites to follow and then he sends, only when we've walked in his shoes.  
  In some ways this is harder, because we see the impossibly high standard that Jesus sets, which is why it is so important that we hear the words of grace and forgiveness that he speaks.  Here in John, Jesus has showed up after Lazarus has died, and no one understands, but Jesus looks for the best in people -- he's not quick to condemn, but rather listens to them with compassion.
  I don't know what eternity is like, or what the halls of heaven look like.  It's hard to wrap my head around some of these things.  But I can picture Jesus the first century man, the one who ascended the cross and then burst forth from a tomb, the one who taught and healed and listened and prayed and wept and laughed.  I can relate to that, and as I grow in faith, I can build upon this man and place my trust in him, and from there, I can launch into the more challenging concepts, but I can start with Jesus, the man, and build that relationship, day by precious day.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

John 11:5-16

John 11:5-16 

  How we do know Thomas? We all know him as Doubting Thomas, because he had the nerve to wonder if a man could really rise from the dead.  I still think he got a raw deal and should be known as 'Thomas, we should go and die with him,' because he's the one willing to follow Jesus even though everyone in Judea is ready to kill Jesus.  Many people get known by their worst moments, even though they have many great moments.  Here's your reminder that even the disciples had some rough moments, but that didn't separate them from fellowship with Jesus Christ.
  There's an old saying that God is never late, always on time, but it's curious to me that when Jesus heard Lazarus was ill, he then stayed two more days.  Remember, this, too -- Lazarus was dying, but God knew exactly what was happening.  God's decision not to intervene wasn't done because God didn't notice, but it was an intentional decision made with a long-term view in mind.  Lazarus died, and was later raised, for the glory of God.  May all of our lives serve the same purpose, to bring glory to God, even in the lowest moments, when we wonder where and how God is at work.

Monday, September 26, 2022

John 11:1-4

John 11:1-4 

  If you're Mary or Martha and you see Lazarus start to get sick, you're not worried, right?  Lazarus has clearly started to get worse, because they get concerned enough to send for Jesus, but they know that Jesus loves Lazarus, and nothing bad will happen to people Jesus loves, right?  
  We who know the end of the story can say that this turned out well.  But that's only because we know the end of the story.  For Mary and for Martha, as well as for Lazarus, there's fear and uncertainty.  There's curiosity about where this is going.  There are questions about why Jesus doesn't act.
  Jesus, however, is purely confidant.  Jesus isn't worried.  He sees the long-term and knows that it ends in glory.
  May we have the confidence to trust that Jesus is looking out for us, too, and to believe that he loves us even when we're sick and uncertain.

Friday, September 23, 2022

John 10:7-18

John 10:7-18 
English Standard Version 

  Do you know those beverage coolers at public events, the cylinders with the lid that hinges open?  Imagine reaching into one of those packed with ice, and you're trying to find just the right can, and as you fish around in the cooler, your fingers start to tingle with the cold, and as you continue to fish around in there, eventually your hand gets colder, and then it moves up the arm, and the longer you leave your hand in there, trying to grasp what you're searching for, the more the sensation travels farther up your arm?
  That's what I think of when I read this passage.  (I know, it's probably a terrible metaphor, but it's my metaphor, so work with me!)  The enormity of the truth of who Jesus is lays deep inside passages like these, and the more I think about them, the more I read them, the more I reflect upon them, the more of me is absolutely in awe of the love God has for us.  It starts as a small sensation when you read about the shepherd laying down his life for the sheep, and the more time that I spend with it, the more it grows and captures my heart as I realize that Jesus didn't have to die -- he could have remained in heaven for all of eternity, but instead he chose to come to earth, he chose to live in poverty, he chose to take our sins upon us and suffer and die for us, all because he loves us like a shepherd loves the sheep.  Jesus alone had the authority to lay down his life, and he utilized that so that the sheep would be saved.  
  And as a sheep, I still rebel against God... knowing this, I don't constantly turn to God in worship.  It's hard to believe, but it's because when I turn from this truth, I get so distracted by the cares of the world that the other shiny things seem more important.  It's crazy...
  But for a moment, the more I stare at this, the more I think on this, it's simply an amazing sensation that overwhelms the soul... what love transforms us!