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.

John 10 – Verse by Verse

John Pic

Jesus, drawing on Old Testament imagery of sheep and a shepherd says that he is the door of the sheepfold by which God’s sheep enter. Further he calls himself the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep

John 10.pdf

John 10.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video. Note that there are two parts due to some technical difficulties.:

Reflecting Jesus – John 9:4-5

While in the act of healing a man blind from birth, Jesus makes the following declaration,

We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

The first word that stands out is the first word, “We.” Jesus does not intend to act alone. Here I do not think he is referring to his Father, but to the disciples, who are to work alongside of him.

The next thing that stands out to me is the phrase, “night is coming, when no one can work.” At this moment there is no need to speculate as to when this is or will actually be. It is enough to know there is such a time coming, to motivate us. We will not be able to work whenever or for as long as we want. Procrastination may be a fatal error in this case.

Finally, I see the phrase, “As long as I am in the world,” which somewhat limits the statement, “I am the light of the world.” Jesus is not, or does not intend to be the light of the world in the same way forever. From this statement it seems he no longer fills that role at the present time, since he has left the world physically to be with his Father.

Are these then the days of darkness? Is there no light to be seen or by which to see? Well, not exactly. Jesus has left some light behind if we are prepared to accept the mission.

Remember that first word “We”? There is still work to be done and we are the ones to do it. If we need any further confirmation of this, we find it in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5:14-16.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

In John 8 Jesus first announced that he was the light of the world. In John 9, he added the stipulation that he was the light of the world as long as he was in the world. In Matthew 5, he tell his disciples that they are the light of the world and explains how they are to fulfill that function: Through their good works.

There are numerous reasons to serve Jesus in this world. One of them is this. He expects his light to shine through us, to be reflected off of us, to give the world some way of seeing him. The moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun. Nonetheless on a clear night, a full moon appears to be very bright. Let’s become experts in reflecting Jesus.

John 7 – Verse by Verse

John Pic

Jesus celebrates the Feast of Booths in Jerusalem, but on the last day of the feast, he indirectly claims to be God.

John 07.pdf

John 07.mp3

Here is a link to the livestream video: