Friday, July 03, 2009
Plans Bigger Than Ours
John 11:1 A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord's feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, "Lord, your dear friend is very sick."
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, "Lazarus's sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this." 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, "Let's go back to Judea."
8 But his disciples objected. "Rabbi," they said, "only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?" 9 Jesus replied, "There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light." 11 Then he said, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up."
12 The disciples said, "Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!" 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died. 14 So he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I'm glad I wasn't there, for now you will really believe. Come, let's go see him." 16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let's go, too—and die with Jesus."
17 When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask."
23 Jesus told her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 "Yes," Martha said, "he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day." 25 Jesus told her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?"
27 "Yes, Lord," she told him. "I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God." 28 Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, "The Teacher is here and wants to see you." 29 So Mary immediately went to him.
30 Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. 31 When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus's grave to weep. So they followed her there. 32 When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. 34 "Where have you put him?" he asked them. They told him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Then Jesus wept. 36 The people who were standing nearby said, "See how much he loved him!" 37 But some said, "This man healed a blind man. Couldn't he have kept Lazarus from dying?"
38 Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance. 39 "Roll the stone aside," Jesus told them. But Martha, the dead man's sister, protested, "Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible." 40 Jesus responded, "Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?"
41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, "Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me." 43 Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, "Unwrap him and let him go!"
45 Many of the people who were with Mary believed in Jesus when they saw this happen.
"Lord, your dear friend is very sick."
A messenger was sent out to find Jesus, this guy had an urgent message, Mary and Martha were sure that if the messenger got to Jesus in time then their brother would be healed and he would avoid death. Jesus is not rattled by the news that his friend is going to die, instead of rushing down to his village, Jesus stays put right where he is at.
Notice the difference in the reaction of the Savior and the reaction of the mere humans in the midst of the crisis. The humans had a plan, it was all going to work out, we just have to control this situation and make this happen and then that will happen and everything will be okay. But there was one major flaw in the sisters plan to get Jesus to come to their house, they couldn't make him come to their house because Jesus had a better idea.
The disciples thought that they knew Jesus plan.
Jesus finally told his disciples that he was going to Bethany to see Lazarus. It is pretty clear that the disciples thought that Jesus wasn't going to help Lazarus because they thought that Jesus was avoiding going back into Judea, our Lord was not avoiding trouble, he was waiting for the "right" moment to go see Lazarus.
John 11:8 But his disciples objected. "Rabbi," they said, "only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?"
There has been a lot of opposition to Jesus lately, there have been attempts to arrest him and they have tried to stone him, the disciples were glad that he wasn't running over to see Lazarus.
"What now, our plan has failed"Martha heard that Jesus was coming and she ran out to meet him and said "Lord, if only" and then later her sister came running out to meet Jesus and she says "Lord, if only" it is clear that they had a plan that didn't work out and now what are they to do? They were saying to Jesus "Lord, you didn't come through"
How often do we make our plans and God doesn't show up and work things out the way that we thought that they should?
We make our personal plans, we decide what the family will do, what the church will do but how much of it is really God's plans?
One of the most difficult things is when God's plan doesn't seem to include the easy answer to your situation. Mary and Martha's plan was the easiest way to make the outcome be the most pleasant, but there is one problem, God had a much bigger plan than they could imagine. It is natural that we want to relieve the situation as pleasantly as possible, we all want to live comfortable and with the least amount of suffering possible but that isn't always the way God wants to work. There are a lot of things that it seems like God should step onto the scene and fix, people that are not healed, violence that goes on against his people around the world, and many other situations that we cannot understand with our limited intelligence.
"Didn't I tell you that you would see God's glory if you believe?"
Jesus asked Mary that question, and earlier he told the disciples "I'm glad I wasn't there, for now you will really believe" It seems that Jesus was more interested in strengthening the disciples and the sisters faith. I am pretty sure that my belief in Jesus would be incredibly strong after witnessing my brother's return to life.
God had bigger plans for Lazarus than just healing him of whatever ailed him. Some guys have a war story or a ship wreck story but this guy can top them all with his "I was once dead and gone but now I am alive again" story.
I have to be careful that I don't leave God out when I am making plans, in ministry it can be easy to run with an idea without knowing what God's opinion of what we are rushing to do.
There is a lot of struggle in this world and many of us are looking for some relief from our difficulties. We struggle to answer the hard questions that God doesn't give us the answers to but sometimes all we can know is that everything is in control and God has a plan that is being worked out for his glory.
Give me wisdom Lord to always check my plans with your will for my life, sometimes when things don't turn out the way I planned I need to refrain from blaming you. Help me to see that everything is working out for your glory. Increase my faith.