Pastor Homan’s Devotion for May 15, 2019

Our read­ing for Wednes­day, May 15, 2019 is John 11:28–37

28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sis­ter Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is ask­ing for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quick­ly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the vil­lage, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, com­fort­ing her, noticed how quick­ly she got up and went out, they fol­lowed her, sup­pos­ing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. 32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my broth­er would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weep­ing, and the Jews who had come along with her also weep­ing, he was deeply moved in spir­it and trou­bled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”  — NIV

Could Jesus have kept Lazarus from dying? Yes! But it is clear that he chose not to. He informed his dis­ci­ples ear­li­er when they ques­tioned his lack of urgency that “This sick­ness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glo­ry so that God’s Son may be glo­ri­fied through it.” (John 11:4) Jesus had an ulte­ri­or motive behind his manip­u­la­tion of this event and though he made his inten­tion clear the dis­ci­ples could not grasp it as nei­ther did Mary or Martha. 

The sis­ters had rea­son for their igno­rance as they were not present when Jesus revealed his pur­pose and also con­sid­er­ing the dis­trac­tion of their grief we should not expect them to be atten­tive to the move­ment of God at the time. The twelve had no excuse how­ev­er except for spir­i­tu­al insen­si­tiv­i­ty. We also may not com­pre­hend God’s pur­pose behind events we observe and par­tic­i­pate in and need to cul­ti­vate our spir­i­tu­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty which is our expec­ta­tion that God moves and works behind every cir­cum­stance. Oh the antic­i­pa­tion of the active fol­low­er of Jesus when we get engrossed in the mys­te­ri­ous unfold­ing of God’s plan. Our aware­ness of God becomes height­ened and we are drawn into par­tic­i­pat­ing with God as God’s part­ners.

The plan all along was for Lazarus to die and pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ty for Jesus to give wit­ness to his true iden­ti­ty as the promised Mes­si­ah. It was news of this event which spread to near­by Jerusalem that caused his fol­low­ers to begin the parade we have come to know as Jesus’ tri­umphant entry into Jerusalem. His glo­ry was revealed but this event would become a greater pre­cur­sor to an even greater res­ur­rec­tion – that of his own. Had Jesus not raised the expec­ta­tions of the mass­es the reli­gious author­i­ties would not have had their fears ele­vat­ed which brought them to plot Jesus’ demise. 

Did Jesus care that Lazarus would have to suf­fer and die or that his sis­ters would have to mourn unnec­es­sar­i­ly? Of course and we know because John records in the short­est verse of all scrip­ture that “Jesus wept.” He cared for each per­son involved but his con­cern was broad­er than those of the oth­er actors of this events. Jesus wit­nessed the grief and fear of the fam­i­ly and the crowds that gath­ered to mourn with them. Death was so final in human under­stand­ing and wor­thy of fear for any­one of rea­son­able mind. The tears Jesus shed were not lim­it­ed to those present but for all human­i­ty since the dawn of time to its con­clu­sion. 

Do we weep over the death of oth­ers who may not live in God’s grace? Do we not weep over the ways peo­ple with­out Christ attempt to salve their sor­rows and dis­pel their fears or fill their lim­it­ed time chas­ing after things that can­not ever sat­is­fy? I have wit­nessed death many times up close and per­son­al, both in liv­ing and dying and can­not com­pre­hend any­more liv­ing under death’s dark shad­ow with­out the assur­ance of faith and res­ur­rec­tion. I ques­tion how I would live with the expec­ta­tion of even­tu­al per­son­al extinc­tion and of those I am clos­est to. How do peo­ple come to grips with the poten­tials of judg­ment?

Some­times we do not com­pre­hend the work­ing of God in trag­ic events we wit­ness or expe­ri­ence, yet that does not negate the fact of God’s pres­ence or con­cern. It may sound oppor­tunist but should we not be moved to see the oppor­tu­ni­ty pro­vid­ed us in life’s chal­lenges and tragedies, and embrace them as oppor­tu­ni­ties to wit­ness the work of God in all things and all places. Yes, we must become sen­si­tized to the move­ment of God in all of life and with sen­si­tiv­i­ty point to Jesus and what he may be doing at the time. Let us live the present from the out­side to cel­e­brate the inter­sec­tion of life and faith. Let us live as peo­ple who know East­er joy and project an East­er hope.