October 29, 2022
No one likes to stumble. A physical misstep can be humbling but also painful. Stumbling over our words is frustrating. A wrong decision can have serious consequences. A moral stumble can be disastrous. Bad timing can abort good results. The possibilities of a stumbling life are endless.
But there was a man who never stumbled. Not once. Not in His speech, decisions, character, direction, relationships, or timing. He was thought to have made serious mistakes by some, and questioned by many, but they were all deceived in their assessments.
A SEEMINGLY WRONG MOVE
Jesus had a family that He loved deeply. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha lived in Bethany right outside of Jerusalem and Jesus and His disciples would often go there.
John 10 records the story of Lazarus’ fatal sickness. The sisters called for Jesus to come, but Scripture records an odd response from Jesus … He waited two days until Lazarus died.
Everyone was confused by the delay, but the unfolding story gives revealing insight into His decision. This moment, recorded for all time, is deeply needed for us as we learn to listen and walk with Jesus. It explains why we should trust Him, even when it doesn’t seem logical.
HIS LOVE … is always perfect.
Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus (John 11:5).
This wonderful verse is included to help alleviate our greatest fear. We may misunderstand Christ’s actions because we think He doesn’t care. And if we think His love is deficient, we won’t follow Him or believe.
Nothing could be further from the truth about His passion for us. He knows how to give the optimum care, but the means of His care can be misunderstood.
HIS WILLINGNESS … is sacrificial.
Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?” (John 11:7-8).
Other leaders would have refused to help someone for fear of their discomfort or suffering. Jesus was willing to take any path of potential pain if it would accomplish the Father’s will and help others. The cross would be the ultimate illustration.
HIS TIMING … is always precise.
So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again. (John 10:6-7)
We look at life from our humanistic side. Jesus was unceasing in prayer, so He saw the timing God desired. Without this delay, we would not have seen one of the most significant demonstrations of the power of God in human history. It was timed to help us believe. And it always is.
HIS GOAL FOR US… is to bring us to faith.
So Jesus then said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead, and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him.” (John 11:14-15).
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26).
Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).
“I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” (John 11:42)
Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. (John 11:45).
Jesus tells us seven times that this whole experience was about faith … to bring those watching (and reading now) to trust in Him. To believe that He is whom He said and will do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we can imagine. He is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Miracle Worker, and nothing is too difficult for Him! Trust Him!
HIS ULTIMATE MOTIVATION … is the glory of God.
But when Jesus heard this, He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:4)
Jesus, as a man, was always interested in God being seen and understood for Who He really is. He knew a miracle was coming that would magnify the Father and also show people that He (Jesus) was from the Father. (see verses 41-42). This was the whole reason He came to earth. To glorify God was His highest desire and must be ours.
HIS DEPENDENCE … was always on the Father, and He never stumbled!
“Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11:9-10).
Everything in this story depended on one thing: Jesus, as a man, listening to His Father and doing what God initiated. He had the Light in Him, and He followed the Light. He didn’t fear what man or circumstances could do, for He knew His Father knew best … and followed Him completely. He trusted God’s timing, God’s direction, and God’s purposes.
We can be followers like this! Our blessed Older Brother has shown us the path to a stumble-less life. He is the Light and is now living in us by his Spirit if we have believed. He will lead us in all the right paths for His name's sake. And if we believe, we will see the glory of God!
Lord Jesus, thank You for Your perfect obedience to the Light. Thank you for showing us that we need not worry about what others think or what circumstances seem to dictate. Help us to trust your loving care and precise timing. Thank You for never stumbling and giving us the means now to follow You in the exact same way.
March 29, 2023
As a pastor for the last 55 years, I have had the joy of being encouraged and blessed and prayed for by so many people. It is what carries you in your task of shepherding people. As I look back over five decades of ministry, their love has dramatically enriched my life.
But also, a pastor leads. And when anyone leads, there are almost always some who disagree.
March 28, 2023
March 27, 2023