Lesson 5 -- fourth quarter 2001
September 30, 2001
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications
How bad does it have to get before you give up hope?
Imagine the situation in this home when it became clear that Lazarus was terminally ill. The sisters knew Jesus had healed many, many people; they knew He could also restore their brother to full health. So they sent for Jesus; hope abounded. The messengers returned, reporting their mission accomplished; hope grew. Lazarus' condition deteriorated, yet he clung to life by a thread; hope hung on. Then Lazarus died; but not hope. Hadn't Jesus also raised two people from the dead? Didn't Jesus have a special relationship with Lazarus, Mary, and Martha? Of course hope lingered on! Jesus would surely come and raise Lazarus. But eventually Lazarus' body had to be buried. By the time Jesus arrived, hope was gone for seeing Lazarus again in this life. After all, his body was already decaying. How can you possibly hope anymore at that stage?
In these imaginings, we can see a bad situation getting progressively worse. We definitely can see the tenacity of hope. And we can also see the realism of hope: Once things get bad enough, to continue to hope is pointless. But into this decomposing, hopeless situation Jesus inserts a new dimension: Himself! No matter how beyond-hope a matter may seem, Jesus can bring life. So hang on to your faith in Jesus and never give up hope, no matter how realistically hopeless everything may seem.
The hidden glory of silence.
Last week we witnessed the Lord's silence at a mother's desperate pleas for help. His silence did not signal disinterest; quite to the contrary, His lack of verbal response came from a deeply compassionate heart. Today we witness that again, this time in Christ's deliberately delayed arrival where His help was so critically needed. Why did He wait in silence?
"That the Son of God might be glorified." The contrary seemed so true. Jesus waited and ran the risk of being credited with callousness, insensitivity, and powerlessness. But He knew what would bring the most significant glory to Himself, so He waited patiently.
"To the intent ye may believe." Here again, the silent wait could have provoked unbelief, or at least a significant weakening of faith, not just in Mary and Martha, but also in His immediate band of disciples. But He knew when it was all over, their faith would be way stronger than it would have been had He gone right away and "merely" healed Lazarus. So He waited.
"That...thou shouldest see the glory of God." Perhaps the people were becoming somewhat jaded to the power of Jesus and the glory of God. The human mind shows a remarkable ability to adapt in the presence of repeated manifestations of supernatural power. Knowing this, Jesus may have decided to reveal a new degree of God's power and glory. So He waited.
"That they may believe that thou hast sent me." People abounded who questioned who Jesus was and who had sent Him. And they were probably outnumbered by the skeptics. The time had come to help them believe. The time had come for Him to tie a more-than-extraordinary miracle to His claims to deity. So He waited till Lazarus was absolutely, positively, unarguably dead.
Is it possible His silence to your request springs from similar reasons? He hasn't changed, you know; He is the same as always.
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