"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
March 19, 2014
This is the last segment in the devotionals regarding John 11:35. Do I hear an "Amen"?!
I have written the past couple weeks about the scripture, "Jesus wept." I wrote the first week that I believe that He wept in compassion for Martha, Mary, and the other family and friends. Last week I wrote that perhaps Jesus was also weeping over the consequence of sin; death and the separation that it caused.
Perhaps there is a third reason that Jesus wept. He knew that there were those who were seeking His death. He knew that His time on earth was coming to a close. In Luke 12:50, Jesus said, "I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of Me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished." Jesus carried a heavy burden, knowing what lay ahead for Him. It was shortly after the resurrection of Lazarus that Jesus was arrested and crucified.
In John 11:25, Jesus had told Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in Me will live, even after dying." But Jesus knew that in order to become the resurrection and life, He would first have to die.
We think of how horrendous the torture and crucifixion was, and it was worse than anything our minds can comprehend; but Jesus was also facing taking all the sin of mankind upon Himself. Think of all the sins you ever committed, all the sins that the most wicked of men has ever committed -- and realize that Jesus became the offering for all those sins. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, "For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ." Jesus died for our sins so that we didn't have to.
While standing there at the grave with Martha and Mary, getting ready to call Lazarus from the tomb, Jesus knew that He giving the religious leaders a reason to put Him to death. Giving Lazarus life was sealing Jesus' own impending death.
After Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, there were many people there who believed that He was the Messiah. It was a life-changing day for them! But there were some who ran to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done.
The leading priests and Pharisees called the high council together to decide what to do about Jesus. They were worried that if they allowed Him to continue His ministry, then soon everyone would believe in Him. From that time on, the Jewish leaders began to plot Jesus' death. As a result, Jesus stopped His public ministry among the people and left Jerusalem. He went to a village near the wilderness and stayed there with His disciples. Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest Him.
Perhaps one reason for the tears of Jesus that day was knowing what the result of Him giving the miracle of life to Lazarus would be. Yes, Martha and Mary would have their brother back with them. But He would have to stop His public ministry. Having His Father answer His prayer for giving Lazarus life once again, meant that He would soon be facing death, Himself. Jesus was giving the people one more reason to hate and reject Him and demand His death. Although He knew that was His purpose for coming to earth, perhaps the reality of what lay ahead became even more real to Jesus as He stood at the tomb of Lazarus.
So there there may have been more than one reason why Jesus wept that day.
Psalm 103:13 says, "The Lord is like a Father to His children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him." Just as Jesus felt compassion for those two sisters that day, I believe that He also feels compassion for us when we grieve the loss of a loved one. I do not believe that He is pointing His finger at us and judging that we should have had more faith, or chastising us for unbelief, or condemning us for not prayer more fervently; but I believe that the heart of God is touched with our every heart-felt emotion. When we rejoice -- He rejoices; and when we weep -- He weeps. We are His children and He loves us more than our minds can comprehend. He doesn't take joy in our sufferings or heartaches, but holds us in His arms as a loving Father and offers us compassion.
Jesus hates the calamity that sin brings. But He has given His life for us, because He knew that we could never have been good or holy enough to pay the payment of sin for ourself. Jesus was willing to suffer and die so that we didn't have to. He was willing to take all of our sins upon Himself and pay the ultimate price. All we have to do is accept His gift of salvation and eternal life.
Jesus also knows that the day will come when there will no longer be any need for weeping. While on earth, we will endure losses and suffering and separation. Psalm 30:5 says, "Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes with the morning." Even when we have times of weeping, it won't last forever.
We have that ultimate day, when we will be reunited with all our loved ones in heaven, to look forward to. Revelation 21:4 says, "Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore." No tears in heaven; no sorrows; no grieving; no burdens -- what a day that will be!
I know it's hard to face something dreadful coming. I can't imagine, though, what it must feel like knowing that you will die horrifically someday. Jesus knew what was coming. I don't know the details, but suspect from time to time He had to make a choice whether to put off His death or bring it sooner. This might have been one of those choices, whether to let Lazarus stay in the tomb, or to show Himself as a threat to the Jewish council, and bring them against Himself sooner.
I'm glad I don't have to face decisions like that. I'm not certain what I would decide. I pray I never need to make a choice like that, but if I do, I pray the Holy Spirit guides me and gives me the courage I would need.
1 package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup brown sugar
Soften cream cheese. Mix all ingredients together. Serve with sliced fruit.
Sometimes situations that look negative at the beginning can turn into a positive. My dryer had began taking longer and longer to dry a load of clothes. It was nothing for it to take over two hours to dry a load of towels or jeans. It was irritating because it took me all day long, sometimes two days, to get all my laundry done because of the dryer being so slow.
On Monday I was going to do laundry. I had washed jeans over the weekend and had forgotten to fold them after they finally finished drying. So I turned the dryer on to fluff them up to get the wrinkles out (I refuse to iron anything!). After a few short minutes, I smelled something that had a burning odor to it. I hurriedly turned the dryer off and waited for Jon to get home from work to check things out. Let me say that is is wonderful to have a husband who doesn't mind trying to fix things himself and doing his best to track down problems! We have a top load dryer and there is a container on the side for the lint to go into. There is a big piece surrounding it with holes that catches the lint, and in theory, blows it into the lint cup. Jon took that entire piece off and it was absolutely full of built-up lint! He cleaned all that out really good.... and ta-da.... my dryer started working perfectly!! It doesn't have the burning scent and is drying clothes must faster now.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.
Psalm 103:2 (NLT)
We love you!
Loretta & Jon