Today's reading was one of my favorite stories in scripture about Jesus. There are so many different facets to it that are so profound and important to our understanding of who Jesus is. The story of a family who is grieving the loss of their brother, the story of a friend who is moved to tears at the sight of his friends grieving and in fact grieving for that same loss himself, the story of life coming from death, and a story about a group of people who are threatened by it. The story of Lazarus that we read about in the book of John is simply an amazing testament to Christ's power, His authority, and his humanity. This chapter also, however, shows the depth of wickedness that resides in mans hearts when what is perceived as their power and authority is being challenged. The nature of the human condition, self-centeredness, ours being no different than theirs, causes us to react like they did. In self preservation mode.
After this amazing miracle, one in which you would think people would be glad to have seen happen, and excited to know the person who did it, those in authority over the nation of Israel only see it as another threat to their power and control. So they call a meeting to try once again to figure out what to do with this Jesus character that is causing such "awful things" to happen. (because who really wants people healed and brought back from the dead. That would just be horrible, right?)
So at their meeting, Caiaphas (the high priest) prophesies (although he didn't realize he was doing so at the time) that Jesus will die for the nation. He said,
"You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."
It is from this point going forward that Jesus' death plot goes into full motion. It really is the beginning of the end in a lot of ways. But what I would like to point out in today's blog about this final miracle story and its aftermath, is something that we don't read about until the next chapter in John, just a few short verses away.
John 12:9-11 - "Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him."
First thing that has to be said, can you blame them. If I had heard about a man being raised from the dead I think I would probably make an effort to see him too. But here is the point. Just a few verses prior to this one the chief priests were making it clear that only one person would have to die, but it was for the betterment of the nation. Now in order to "fix their problem" it needs to be two people who die.
They should be rejoicing at the fact that this man is now alive and no longer in the grave and they are making plans on how to get him back into the grave.
This kindof scenario is one that we often come up against and may not even realize it in our own lives. Sure, we are not looking to kill someone for the betterment of society, (at least I hope you aren't) but we do take something like a lie, and to cover it up we tell another one...and then another one... and it keeps going on and on until we get caught in our lies or we decide to come clean.
Sin is something that we often look at and think to ourselves, "oh it will only be this one time" or " it really isn't that bad, it isn't like I am doing this all the time" or "It really can't be all that bad, what I am doing/saying is actually going to help someone else so God surely can't fault me for that."
Sin in our life will take us farther than we want to go, cause us to stay longer than we want to stay, and do/say more than we ever intended to. It is a cancer and it will consume us if we let it. but it always starts with "just this once"
I encourage you, take a look at your life and see if there are some things that need to be cleaned up this week. In your journey of following Christ, have you allowed yourself to veer left, letting that "one time/one thing" turn into to two or three, all the while convincing yourself that you are still on the straight and narrow? I encourage you, if that is the case stop what you are doing right now and spend some time in prayer. Ask God to come in and clean house. Ask him to wash you again, white as snow, just like the first day you gave your heart to Christ and begin to right a ship that may be veering way off course.
God is faithful and he promises to never leave us or forsake us. When we are turned and following him, the slippery slope of the Pharisees will never be an issue.