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Friday, 12 October 2012

Could God watch us die?

But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." - John 11:4.
Recently, a good friend preached on Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. With great passion, he drew a sharp distinction between worldly ways and the Kingdom of God. In reading how Jesus waited two full days after hearing the news that Lazarus was sick, my friend uttered, "Jesus did not react to situations or the words of men, but listened to and obeyed the Father."
In reality, many of us saints would rush to help Lazarus, or at least be obsessed with comforting his sisters without delay.
We rush to need. We rush to opportunity. We rush to significance. We rush at things that seem right. We rush along in the grooves of tradition.
Yet it was clear that Jesus waited deliberately. John 11 implies that he did it because he loved Mary and Martha! "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.” - John 11:5-6.
Why did this delay magnify His love? Because their faith was going to grow massively through a testimony of resurrection power, not just a testimony of healing. Lazarus' faith was going to explode too! The comfort would be greater, the joy higher, the testimony more profound, the future witness more bold, the promises more sure, and the world less terrifying. The sting of death - even of their own future death - was going to be removed as surely as the grave cloths were soon to be removed from their dead brother.
From the day of his resurrection, all these things would just keep growing - every time they would see Lazarus drinking juice, eating fish, brushing his hair, and walking in the fields, they would know about the Resurrection and the Life!
Why is this account significant for you and me? Is it not true today that so much of our lives are still held captive to the fear of death? Even though we have been raised spiritually from the dead, so many strongholds in our souls and in the church resist the thought of death and heaven, the destruction of the temporary and the removal of the things we cling to. We remain captive to earthly things.
So now, could it be true that God "waits two days" before responding to our crushing needs? Could He - the Lord of Love – be waiting for us to die too?
Could it be that a more infinite Love waits - seeing the object of love writhing in pain – so that the final glory and joy would be greater? Is this not the message of the Cross itself?
- Could it be that He delays answering our prayers for breakthrough, until wrong motives are dead?
- Could it be that
He delays financial blessing so that our love of money and terror of poverty are fully revealed? Could He delay things here so that we are taught to trust in His goodness and bounty?
- Could it be that
our prayers for the defeat of our enemies are not answered, so that meekness is raised from the tomb of our self-preservation? Could He tarry, so that resurrection love would be magnified all the more? Could God be making sure our fleshly anger is fully dead?
- Could it be that
God does not deal with false accusations against us, so that our rewards at the resurrection would be enlarged? Did not Jesus say, "Great shall be your reward when men speak falsely against you"?
- Does He
delay coming to change your spouse until selfishness dies in you, His spouse?
- After all other doors have closed, could it be that
He delays his open door, so as to teach us trust; so as to wean us off our own self-reliance; so as to deliver us more into becoming servants of the gospel and less slaves to a career? Does He not sometimes even do this with our wages and provisions?
- Could it be that
He delays bringing promotion and headship in the church until selfish ambition is dead in the tomb of our obscurity? This might just be so, that when He calls us forth eventually, it would be with renewed hearts and hands, to wash the feet of others.
- Does he even delay His return, so that faith and patience finish their course and produce Christ in us and our children?
Oh my, how often I have mourned his delays, like the cries of Mary and Martha, together with their wailing sympathisers at the tomb of Lazarus. But how blind have I been to the Glory being multiplied, as death takes full effect. Through faith and patience, Life will shine forth like the glorious day!
It is true that the Father even delayed rescuing His own Son for three full days after His death. He could have rescued him at any time, even a second before the Roman soldiers swung their hammers down on those iron nails. God waited, feeling Christ's pain, yet knowing that the divine delay would bring far, far more glory and eternal joy for Jesus - and not only for Him, but also for the billions of people to come, trapped in the valley of the shadow of Death.
"Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery". - Hebrews 2:14-15.
Could it even be that every delay we suffer at His bidding is another inch of sharing in the ministry of Christ Himself? In this we hear the heart of Paul, who wished to "Share in His sufferings, so as to somehow attain to His resurrection".
I thank God - through some pain - for His delays.

 ~ Posted by Nick Davis


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