Hope Amongst Cynics

After He had said this, He went on to tell them,  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.”

His disciples replied,  “Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.”  Jesus had been speaking of his death, but His disciples thought He meant natural sleep.

So then He told them plainly,  “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.  But let us go to him.”  John 11:11-15.

I’ve noticed Jesus likes the cryptic or hint that leads to the point rather than spoon feeding His followers.  His allusion to Lazarus’ death has made some wonder if He was defining what happens when we die.  I grew up with the understanding that Jesus was saying death is a sleep state.  Now rather than get into the argument about something for which I have no definitive answer, my thought now is that He isn’t giving us a glimpse into death here but leading the disciples to think outside their spiritual box.  I just think He was handing the disciples a word puzzle.

The best teachers are those who lead, rather than direct.  The best examples are always demonstrated rather than pre-made illustration.  Jesus gives us a hint then waits to see if we’ll take the nudge and act on it.  I admit I’m not good with this kind of thing because I always worry that I’ve read it wrong or missed something.  Still, I recognize the best way to go where Jesus wants us to is to follow His lead; which means we must become more circumspect in the way we hand out truth.

Have you ever noticed that those in the know shake their heads at those who can’t seem to grasp what’s going on?  It’s almost as if those of us in the modern Christian world believe we would have been different, more able to read Jesus’ truth behind His stories, and be better at grasping His points than the original disciples were.  Anytime I hear a preacher or teacher criticize the disciples I get a spiritual allergic reaction.  The fact is we are no better at understanding God’s ways than they were, though we might get His teaching better than they did.  And the reason we do is because the very disciples consider so dense (which they were) have laid it out for us and shown us the way.

The disciples’ grasp of what was happening and about to go down can be summed up in Thomas’ sardonic,  “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”  For some reason I’ve always taken the “him” in Thomas’ words to mean Jesus, but now I know it must have been Lazarus he was referring to, since the disciples still didn’t believe Jesus would die.  They believed Him to be the messiah and in their understanding of prophecies about the Anointed One, He lasted forever.  The only dead guy in the story was Lazarus.

Jesus’ wanted to make a point here that the disciples would probably miss until later anyway.  The whole focus of His ministry was to prepare a group of people for service in the world in order to show the power of God in a life.  We get so excited over healing and raising the dead that we miss the sheer wonder of how much a changed life is a miracle in and of itself.  He also set out to prove through Lazarus’ death who He was…could there be any doubt after such a tremendous impossibility took place?

Death is beyond us.  I don’ think we get the significance of it as much as we should—I include myself in this statement.  The miraculous power of Christ is also something we take for granted, and may be that is ok, but what it should do is wake us up.  Jesus’ goal here was not just to wake Lazarus up from the dead but those who followed Him as well as set a precedent no one else could attain and give the believer an example for which their is no comparison.  This miracle goes beyond human grasp of reality.

If we want to follow Jesus, this is where He’s leading us.

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One Response to “Hope Amongst Cynics”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Great post!

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