In John 10 Jesus made it clear that he was the Good Shepherd who laid down his own life of his own accord. He said that in spite of the attempts by the Jewish leaders to arrest and kill him his fate was in his own hands. He would not be tricked or cajoled into dying before the time was right (see Galatians 4:4). He said he would lay down his life intentionally, voluntarily, when the time is right.
In John 11 Jesus had been spending time around Jerusalem and Bethany, where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived, but the Jews there were seeking to kill him (10:31). Jesus was not panicked or in a hurry even though people were out to arrest and kill him. Yet he was in a physical body amidst angry people that wanted to kill him, so He made his way across the Jordan, away from Jerusalem, where it would be a bit safer. Then Lazarus got sick. Then Lazarus died. So Jesus made his way back to the Jerusalem area where the Jewish leaders were seeking to arrest and kill him. If this was a movie, we’d all be tense with concern – shouting “Nooo, don’t go back to Jerusalem – they’ll kill you!”
Why did he go?
He loved Lazarus (11:5, 36)
Raising Lazarus from the dead would help them believe (11:15)
This is a great example of Kingdom over Comfort. Jesus placed His Father’s kingdom agenda above his own comfort and safety.
I find it interesting that Jesus’ motives were not just human compassion or love – although he did have deep love for a friend. Nor were they just spiritual – although it would be a spectacular teachable moment and others would believe as a result of seeing Lazarus rise from the dead. Jesus was fully God and fully man and he lived fully in each world. His faith or spirituality was not a lopsided faith that called for separation or escape from the world, nor was it a faith that found freedom to indulge in the sin and vice for which he came to set mankind free. He was full of grace and truth. He engaged in real relationships, loved real people, extending real grace, paid real taxes, ate real food and proclaimed real truth.
How about us? Is our faith lopsided? Do we inappropriately avoid those that do not agree with us? Do we indulge in sin with those that do not know the Savior?
We need to turn our eyes from our comfort to His Kingdom.
It’s ironic that Christmas can bring out the worst in families. Old tensions resurface. Ancient wounds re-fester. Jesus loved family and friends, but never lost sight of advancing His Father’s kingdom.
May we love those that God has placed around us – especially family at this Christmas time (that can be difficult!).
As we love those around us, may we see the power of God at work in our own friends and family this Christmas.
Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today,