Sunday, December 13, 2009

Day 21: John 11


When Jesus enters our life, we find Him continually working to change our perspective about ourselves, our lives, and Him. We find that we make a big deal about ourselves, but very little about Him. As we walk with Him, we learn that life is about making much about God and little about ourselves. Our lives become like that of John the Baptist, who said, "He must become greater; I must become less" (John 3:30).

We see that change taking place in this story. Jesus is teaching the disciples, Mary and Martha, even Lazarus, that they are not the point of the story, God is. They are not the ones in control, God is. They do not determine what occurs and what is impossible, God does. These things are important for us, because we struggle, just like they did.

They struggled with developing their ideas and plans for what needs to happen in life and expecting God to show up and carry out their plans. We see very clearly in this story, that God does not work that way. Jesus intentionally chooses to carry out His agenda and avoid the one they present to Him. The plan that they have seems to make the most sense to us. It is the limited perspective that we all, as God's created ones, default to. But it is not the perspective of the Creator. He sees farther and understands more. He does not face the same limitations that we do. While we see obstacles that we cannot get around, He understands that nothing is impossible for Him. This is what He wants to teach us as well. Nothing is impossible with God and we can trust Him to do what is best.

In this case, Jesus receives word that a close friend is dying. The obvious plan of everyone involved is, "Go tell Jesus and He can come and heal Lazarus before he dies." That makes sense, God come before the worst happens and fix it. Keep us from confronting the impossible. Take the easy route, the one that makes sense to us. Don't make us venture into the realm where we have to trust you for something that we can't understand. Don't make us exercise faith.

Jesus' response is to force them into the unknown. He intentionally drags His feet and allows Lazarus to die. It seems cruel to us. Why let them all suffer? But that's our limited perspective. From God's view, He knows that He wants to do something greater than simply heal a sick man. He wants to reveal God's glory and Lazarus, Mary, Martha, and the disciples will all see God at work as they never have before.

They thought that the plans they had were the only way it could work. In their mind, the impossible was represented by the death of Lazarus. They have grown in their faith to the point that they had no problem believing that Jesus could heal Lazarus' sickness. They had experienced Jesus doing this with many throughout the years. But for them, death was the ultimate obstacle. The perpective they had on God was larger and different than it had been. But God wanted to increase their understanding and experience. He wanted their faith to expand. But to do that, they had to face the dark, the unknown, they had to move into an area they had not experienced before.

So Lazarus died.

But death was not destined to rule the day. Jesus finally arrives and challenges their perspective. They are not to believe in Him as a healer, but as a life-giver. Even as He prepares to do the impossible, their limited trust is seen. "Don't roll away the stone, he's dead. He's been dead. By now, he'll stink. Jesus, what are you doing?" Much like us today, arguing with God when He begins to work in a way that we didn't forsee or agree with. But again, Jesus wants their understanding of Him to increase, so He continues with His plan.

With three simple words, everything changes. The dead man comes back to life. He walks out of the tomb. And everyone's perspective changes. God has walked with them through the darkness and taught them that He is bigger than they ever believed and prepared them for a new life with that perspective.

How is God working to change your perspective of Him?

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