Read: John 11
Then the leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together. “What are we going to do?” they asked each other. “This man certainly performs many miraculous signs. If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.” (John 11:47-48, NLT)
This chapter is amazing on a couple of levels. First of all, the raising of Lazarus from the dead has to be one of the most dramatic miracles in the entire Bible, outside of Christ’s own resurrection.
This is a perfect set up for the authentication of Jesus’ messianic ministry—and he knows it. He knows Lazarus’ sickness will lead to death, yet he waits until the man dies to come and pray for him. He knows that God the Father has given him authority and power over death, yet he prays anyway in front of the crowd that God will release resurrection power through him to bring forth this man from death. He knows that the Jews are criticizing his inability to prevent this death. In their minds, he is just another so-called messiah—all hat and no cattle. He knows that everyone in this scene is thinking that after four days in the tomb, death has done its nasty business on the body of Lazarus—as the King James says, “He stinketh!”—and it is well beyond resurrection.
This is the perfect set up for one of the outstanding acts of God ever. God seems to operate at his best in these situations. Yes, Jesus could have gone to Bethany much earlier and healed Lazarus before it got to this point, but that miracle would not have even come close to the glory this miracle would bring. God had an agenda—he always does: To glorify himself.
The Jewish leaders who opposed Jesus had an agenda too. They loved the status quo—their positions of power, the religious monopoly they held over the people, the spiritual racket that kept them in their places of wealth and honor. They had come to despise Jesus because he was threatening their way of life. His radical message and rising popularity were making their cozy way of life vulnerable to a Roman crackdown, and the potential loss of that prevented them from seeing and accepting even an outstanding act of God like Lazarus’ resurrection.
That is the second amazing thing about this story. It is almost as amazing as Lazarus’ resurrection. The Jews had witnessed this incredible, undeniable miracle with their own eyes, yet rejected it because, at least in their minds, it threatened their way of life.
That is the problem with personal agendas. They keep us from seeing how far superior God’s agenda is to our own. We do everything in our power to resist and avoid the short-term discomfort God may be allowing in our lives in order to preserve the comfort that we have come to prefer—even at the expense of a resurrection.
How do we do this? Just think about it—you will probably come up with plenty of examples. Have you ever stayed home from church because you had a headache? You didn’t feel well enough to go to the very place that prays for the sick to be healed. Have you withheld a financial gift from God because that money was dedicated to something you wanted to do? Have you ever sat in your pew when the pastor called people forward for prayer because you were uncomfortable and worried about what people might think? Have you ever held back on an adventure of faith because you felt unqualified and ill-equipped for the challenge?
It is most likely that you have an agenda that is different than God’s—perhaps more than a few. I know that I do.
What do you say we make a spiritual determination today that our agenda will no longer control our lives? If you will reject the status quo for the risky adventure of following God’s agenda, you will be on the cusp of the adventure of your life—maybe even a resurrection!
“Faith is to believe what we do not see; and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe.” ~St. Augustine
What If God Took Over?
Ask the Lord to show you where your love affair with the status quo is keeping you from a personal resurrection to radical faith. Then tap into the gift of courage he has given you to jettison your comfort zone for the risky adventure of faith.