Sunday, December 31, 2006


I just read through John chapter 12. Jesus walks into Bethany to have dinner with Lazarus, raised from the dead. I can’t help but think about when Jesus last came upon the home of Lazarus. This happens just a chapter back in John 11. He hears the Lazarus is sick, and in v.4, Jesus says to the disciples, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified by it. Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister [Mary], and Lazarus.”

Then, with this in mind, He sits. Stays another 2 days. I know that many people wanted a piece of that healing - and the evidence of the scripture seems to point to it contributing to Him being worn out. But this was someone He loved. Not much sense in that. But remember that He doesn’t leave those around Him without an explanation. Re-read v.4 .

What strikes me is that we know the rest of the story – and I am not suggesting that we’ve missed v.4 . It’s naturally one of the keys to the telling and re-telling of the story. But for me, what keeps me eyes on the text is the fact of these things:

He let them know what was going on.

He knew what was going on.

But the story seems to go on as if this wasn't necessarily the case. I'm not saying that Jesus forgot anything - but knowing doesn't always make living through this stuff easy.

Starting in v. 11, Jesus seems to change His story – now Lazarus has fallen asleep –

This He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep."

The disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."

Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep.

And then Jesus says something particular – "Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you [the disciples] may believe; but let us go to him.

Jesus and the disciples arrive, and Lazarus has been dead for 4 days.

Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see."

Jesus wept.

And I can’t really help but wonder.

In the times that I think that everything is crashing down – that I think that somehow if these pieces that I so hope would finally fall together – if it isn’t some sort of dirty trick. I don’t mean that in a way that would be anti-Him, so much as a dirty trick I’m playing on myself, on my very conscience. Jesus knows that Lazarus is dead, and that the sickness in v.4 is not unto death (at least with any permanence). But He weeps.

This person, this Savior, was also man, but a mere baby in a womb, born into a filthy stable. Over the next years He would eat on beaches, flee mountaintops, be confronted with wild men, careless keepers of His sheep, and the very people He chose betraying Him. When it speaks in Hebrews about Him not being an un-sympathetic High Priest, we should be ashamed that we have made the Savior shine without the dirty clothes and label of Nazareth and being a carpenter’s son. He will wrestle with the very meaning of submitting to a higher will, to a justice that He made, but we broke. He had to bear the responsibility of every filthy thing I have ever thought, dreamed, or schemed. Lazarus, even within the words of v.14-15 (check it out), was dead, and sorrow was part of this man dealing with all the measure and weight of this loss – even though He knows what is to come. **

I’m a fairly emotional guy, but much is bound up in being what we would call strong. I figure that is the relief I feel at weeping. It is really relief – and exhausting at it’s core – as if the wrestling of these things has finally come forth and imprinted itself on my flesh and bones. It is as if everything comes loose and is washed clean.

My grandmother once told me a story along those lines. My grandfather passed away quite a while ago, and she told of how, for a long time she felt nothing in regards to that. It was as if the slate had been wiped clean and it had never happened. Then one day, and this mental picture sticks with me, she was sitting in the basement and she prayed and asked God why – and plead with Him that she just wanted to feel something.

And then it came.

Like a flood.

It overwhelmed her, the weeping, the emotion, the loss. It was beyond any sorrow she had ever known.

And then she realized just what He, this High Priest, had kept from her – what He Himself was bearing for her.

And somehow we must too bring ourselves before this throne of grace in this season of Joy, and think on the flesh, the humanity of Christ. The OT has the some of the best description of this coming Savior -

Is 53.3,7b – “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”

“…in humiliation His judgment was taken away…”

I have never felt this. I have never felt this. I will never feel this.

It was borne for me.

I have tricked myself into thinking I understand sorrow.

Really, that sickens me. It makes me tired.

So what I come to in all this is my need to know Him more over this next year. Lately I have been working on practicing the presence of Christ, and in that God. This involves leaving a lot at the table in terms of experiential gospel. Simply, this means, knowing God outside the works of my hands, outside the filter of my understanding. It means strengthening my understanding of Him, of His flesh, of His suffering, of His joys. It is to know Him in my rising, in my laying down, in my eating and sleeping, in my daily bread and breath; hoping to, in all things, see Him at work and look closely on how He would desire to be lifted up. To see how His name is not only lived out, but how it is understood and imprinted on my being. I know I will suck at this, make a mockery of Him – but mostly I hope to continue to make a mockery of this flesh, of me, so that I might place it side by side with my redemption to see where it is keeping the light out.

For what would happen if I didn’t have the Word here with me? Could I still hear Him?
What if I could not use this body - could I serve Him?
If I could not speak – would I worship Him?
I could not see - would I still declare the wonders of His creation?

There must be something more then these things to drive my faith.

So I must look back to Him – for even though He knew ever story that would be ever told, every rock that would ever move, and every man that would ever die and be raised again He will sit before Jerusalem and weep.

And I want, no, I must, somehow know how to do the same.


**(Let’s not play this off as some sort of, “He had to be born in a stable – He had to be a carpenter – He had to break down their expectations.” He could have come as a king’s son, and they still would have killed him – don’t fool yourself. We can no more claim Him as blue collar as put Him against the white and grey collars. But there is something to all the dirt, the eye level with the poor, the tired, the widow and the orphan. It is as if the layers keep peeling off as I read – the causes are multiplied and proved out till you begin to understand the statement that they would fill the very world if all were told around the campfires and creeks of our life.)


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