God's Word is full of surprises for me today. In John 10-12, Jesus follows up his teaching about healing the spiritually blind with a discussion of The Good Shepherd and His sheep. I have to admit, I got ahead of myself at first because I thought I knew what I was going to read. We've heard about this in the gospels many times. We are the sheep. Jesus is our Good Shepherd. John's gospel surprised me, though, because Jesus reminds us that He is also the gatekeeper, the one and only way way to our Heavenly Father. And if we want to get to Him, we have to go through Jesus to get there.
Then, Jesus surprises me again as I read how He raises Lazarus from the dead.
This story gives me some insight on what it looks like when Jesus is at work in our lives, and I think it's worth talking through. The situation doesn't look good at all for Lazarus and his loved ones once they realize the extent of his sickness. But from the beginning, Jesus offers reassurance we can be sure is true.
4“This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,
Do you see what's happening here? Jesus promises this is all happening for a reason, God's reason. Lazarus' tragedy will bring glory to God. So though the situation is terrible, God is in control. I've been there in a bad situation where the only good in it is the trust I have that God is working it for his glory somehow. Though, I have no idea how because things look and feel so awful. How about you? Have you been there?
Here's the other part to notice, Martha and Mary believe in Jesus. They serve Him. Yet, they are frustrated and heartbroken as they face this bad situation. They wait. Martha and Mary know about Jesus' power and love, but Jesus doesn't keep Lazarus from dying like they want Him to do. Jesus does not do what they expect. He does something even better, but it's on God's perfect timing, not theirs. God has bigger plans than their brains are able to comprehend. Take another look...
14 So then he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, 15 and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
Jesus hears their needs and not only provides a miracle, He maximizes their faith and His ability to impact lives. He does the same for us in our times of need. Jesus hears our prayers, but He knows better than we do what we need, and that's how He answers. In that way, Jesus teaches us lesson after lesson, deepening our faith. He always answers.
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
Jesus models how we are to trust and believe in Him through Lazarus. And in the end, He is our true Savior. It doesn't matter how bad the situation has looked or how hopeless we feel. He feels our pain. He cries with us, like He does with Martha and Mary over Lazarus. We never go unnoticed. Jesus has died so that we always have hope, no matter what this life brings.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
God is full of surprises for His glory. We never know how He is going to reveal Himself in our lives, but we can be sure that He is with all who believe. We can find peace and comfort in the fact that sometimes that means Jesus isn't just going to heal our wounds or our sickness. Sometimes, He is ready to save a life for eternity with Our Heavenly Father instead. All we have to do is believe. Jesus guarantees us miracles on God's terms, not ours.
A prayer for today-
Thank you for breathing life into your Holy Words. Inspire and comfort me with your scripture. Show me how to apply all your teachings to my circumstances. I pray your guidance and hope will fill the hearts of _______________ today and always. Help me make the right choices so that I may have life with You and have it to the full.
In the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
With a grateful heart,