On mission with Jesus – John 12:26

If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

The Gospel of John does not include a precise version of the Great Commission. There is no “Go into all the world” or “Go and make disciples,” but this verse offers and interesting take on the subject.

The section of John 12 starts with some Greeks wanting to see Jesus. In all likelihood these are Gentiles and not simply Greek-speaking Jews who happened to be in Jerusalem. They were probably “God-fearers” as believing Gentiles were sometimes called. The early church drew many from this number as the gospel began to go out among the nations.

The verse in question, however, does not so much tell us to go as to follow. If we want to serve Jesus we need to follow him. Moreover, we need to follow him wherever he goes.

I would contend that wherever we might sense that people need Jesus, he is present there already. Go where we might, we are not going to flee from his presence. If our mission takes us to a faraway land, across the country or across the street, when we get there, we will find that Jesus is there already.

Serving Jesus means to go in some sense of the word, but it is going with Jesus or going where he has gone before. The Father will honor those who serve Christ in this fashion, but for right now, Jesus is waiting for us to follow.

John 11 – Verse by Verse

John Pic

The raising of Lazarus is the seventh and final sign in the first section of the Gospel of John. With it Jesus proclaims himself to be the resurrection and the life.

John 11.pdf

John 11.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video.

A Prayer Prompted by John 11

Our Father in heaven,

You have your own perfect plans for us.  You know exactly how best to form us and shape us, how to mold our character and bend our will. Help us to trust you as you do your perfect work.

Cause us to always keep looking toward Jesus as the perfect example of humanity. He perfectly understands us in all of our trials and our weaknesses because he live through such things himself.

We receive him also as the perfect Savior, who died for us, rose again, and is the source of eternal life for all of us who believe.

With Martha we can respond to Jesus by saying, “Yes, Lord; we believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.”

Amen.

Love and waiting – John 11:1-6

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 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.” 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. 

Lazaraus was sick and near death. Jesus loved Martha Mary and their brother Lazarus. So why did he wait. It would seem to make more sense to say that Jesus loved them, “so her hurried to get to Bethany.” But this is Jesus, and he is right, and he waited two days longer.

I am something of a failed bonsai hobbyist. I’ve tried to grow the little tress and have at times succeeded, even for years at a time with a single tree. The trick is to keep them growing almost indefinitely, like trees in the wild. The longer they live the more your work pays off, and the work tends to be mostly toward the beginning.

In order to properly train a bonsai tree you have to be patient. You bend a branch or guide the trunk to a certain angle and then you wire it in place. Then you have to wait weeks or months to bend it more. To try to bend too much at once can break the branch. Eventually, you get the desired shape and then you leave it. The tree will mature, but adapting to the careful training you gave it right from the start.

God knows how to train us. He knows how to bend us into shape. And that does not always come all at once. Martha and Mary had to wait for Jesus while watching their brother die. Jesus loved them and somehow knew that it would be better for all concerned if Lazarus was in the grave for four days before Jesus arrived. I’m not sure what was going on in the hearts of the two sisters during that time, but we may speculate that the waiting did them good.

The same goes for us. As we wait for the answers to unanswered prayers, sitting patiently when there is little else that we can do, that may be evidence of the love of God. He is forming our character, testing our faith, and building our strength to persevere under trials. This is all for our good. Love and waiting are often intimately tied.