Sunday, April 06, 2014

Believe to see

"The Raising of Lazarus"
By Rembrandt - 1630

TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 11:38-57

TO CHEW ON: "Jesus said to her, 'Did I not say that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?'" John 11:40

Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead was not primarily to ease the sorrow of Martha and Mary. Rather, it was to draw attention to God—His glory in victory over death, His creativity in restoring that smelly four-day-rotting body, His love for humanity played out in microcosm to this Bethany family. And it was to establish Jesus' credibility as One in whom they could put their faith.

People responded in two ways:

"Many of the Jews...believed in Him" (vs. 45).

"But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things Jesus did" (vs. 46).

The chief priests and Pharisees reacted like we have come to expect. They saw in Jesus and His power a reason for fear. They said they were scared this kind of thing would spook their Roman overlords, causing them to take away the Pharisees' own power and what little freedom the nation had. I think they were also hugely jealous of the attention Jesus was getting. It took the focus off them and their own power and influence. They set in motion a plan to arrest and kill Jesus and He had to leave town.

Still today God's working among us is a great polarizer. Our choice is similar to the people of Jesus' time. When someone witnesses to a changed life, experiences a physical healing,  gets miraculously set free from drug addiction, or whatever their testimony, we have a choice. We can choose to believe and see in these things the glory of God. Or we can be like those religious leaders and rationalize it away, even saying it is a bad thing ("The world will think we're all kooks").

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me not to miss Your glory because of an attitude of skepticism and unbelief. Amen.

MORE: Lazarus

I wonder about Lazarus' reaction to all this. Was he glad to be back? Did he perhaps have a tale of his own to tell?

I have, over the last few years, come across books about people who report near-death experiences. One of them is  A Flight to Heaven. In it 19-year-old Dale Black spends three days in a coma after an airplane crash. He comes out of the coma with a changed personality but no memory of the accident and other things. Over years his memory returns, and along with it, what he recalls witnessing during the days he was comatose. Here are two paragraphs from that memory:

"I was fast approaching a magnificent city, golden and gleaming among a myriad of resplendent colors. The light I saw was the purest I had ever seen. And the music was the most majestic, enchanting, and glorious I had ever heard.

I was still approaching the city, but now I was slowing down. Like a plane making its final approach for landing. I knew instantly that this place was entirely and utterly holy. Don't ask me how I know, I just knew. I was overwhelmed by its beauty. It was breathtaking. And a strange sense of belonging filled my heart; I never wanted to leave. Somehow I knew I was made for this place and this place was made for me. Never had I felt so 'right' anywhere. For the first time in my life, I was completely 'whole'" - Captain Dale Black in A Flight to Heaven, p. 99.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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1 comment:

  1. A Flight to Heaven was a great "read"! I'm a believer :)


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