"I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life"

Father God, thank you for the love of the truth you have given me. Please bless me with the wisdom, knowledge and discernment needed to always present the truth in an attitude of grace and love. Use this blog and Northwoods Ministries for your glory. Help us all to read and to study Your Word without preconceived notions, but rather, let scripture interpret scripture in the presence of the Holy Spirit. All praise to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Please note: All my writings and comments appear in bold italics in this colour

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Is There a Cost to Being a Friend of Jesus?

If you have ever read Deitrich Bonhoeffer, you will know that there is a cost to discipleship. Or if you read Jesus' instruction to Ananais to go and tell Saul what great things he must suffer for His name sake, you will know there is a cost to discipleship. How else could one be a real disciple without identifying with the suffering of Christ, or without the opportunity to glorify Christ through the manifestation of His character in very hostile surroundings?

But what if you are not a determined disciple, just a friend of Jesus? Would you expect to be treated the same way? Probably not, but you might expect to be treated somewhat similarly; take Mary, Martha and Lazarus, siblings from Bethany, for example.

They did not follow Jesus around Judea but they were good friends, in fact, the Bible says Jesus loved them, which would indicate a special bond beyond the ordinary love that He has for us all. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.

Yet, despite this love, Jesus did not respond to Mary and Martha's call for help. Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” 

So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

What do you suppose was going through Mary and Martha's minds as Jesus ignored their request? They knew Jesus was special, that He had an amazing relationship with God, that God would give Him anything He asked. But He didn't ask; He didn't even bother to come until Lazarus had been dead for days. What were they thinking? 

What was Jesus thinking? Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.

Obviously, Jesus had a plan. It wasn't obvious to any of His disciples, nor was it obvious to Mary and Martha. They loved Jesus, and couldn't understand why he was so late coming to them. Nevertheless, they were kind in their words though one suspects a little bit of latent hostility when first Martha then Mary greeted Him with, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died."

Then we see the reason why Jesus delayed His coming until it seemed too late:

Jesus said to her (Martha), “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha's eyes had been opened to a more complete revelation of Who Jesus really is. But Mary arrives and repeats Martha's accusation:

Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?

They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!”

And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

Jesus wept, not for Lazarus, but for the suffering of Mary and the others who still did not get Who Jesus really is. 

Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”

Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.

Mary and Martha and the others with them received the great blessing of an extraordinary revelation of Who Jesus is. They endured several days of intense grief and suffering before it came, but they would never doubt Jesus again. 

I had a similar experience where I asked God to prove Himself to me. He did! It was nothing short of terrifying how He did it, but I have not in 30 years doubted Him since, nor will I in the next 30 years. 

Do you have doubts about Jesus? Are you willing to allow God to prove Himself to you. He won't if you put limits on how He must do it - that means you don't trust Him. He won't prove Himself to you if you don't trust Him - that is not faith!

When I asked God to prove Himself, I asked Him to protect my family; He did. He even protected me though the odds on my surviving that experience were very poor. I walked away without a scratch.