March 24, 2011

Friday, Day Fifteen

The Lectionary

Morning - Psalm 95, Genesis 32:22-31, 1 Corinthians 8
Evening - Psalm 69, Jeremiah 6:1-8, John 11:28-44

John 11:28-44

And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

            Commentary

John 11:37 voices the question that was on everyone's mind as they gathered at the grave of Lazarus.  "Could not this man [Jesus] ... have caused that even this man [Lazarus] should not have died?"  Jesus had healed the sick, caused the blind to see and made the lame to walk, why didn't He keep Lazarus alive?  This reminds us of the question, if God is so good, why does He allow suffering and death?  The answer is that the only way to prevent suffering and death is to create unthinking robots following a given program.  Freedom requires the ability to make wrong choices, and do wrong things, and to suffer the consequences of them.

But Jesus allowed Lazarus to die for a much greater reason. Lazarus died so Jesus could show that His power is much greater than simply the ability to heal the living.  He can actually raise the dead.  He can give life to a decaying corpse as easily as He can multiply bread and fish, or still the storm, or heal the blind.  He is the Lord of Life, and if He can raise the dead, He can surely keep Himself alive.  Thus His crucifixion is an intentional act of self sacrifice.  He lays down His life; no man takes it from Him.  He lays it down for us.
 
            Devotional Thoughts

Confession means to agree with God that our sin makes us worthy of the wrath of God.  We acknowledge that we deserve to be punished, and that God is righteous when He judges us guilty.  King David was told a story about a thief who stole the single lamb of a poor man.  David became livid with righteous indignation.  He wanted to execute justice on the thief.  Then the prophet said to the King, “Thou art the man.”

David saw that the sins of the thief deserved punishment, and was willing to be the hand of God to deliver the thief unto death.  When he learned that he was the thief he had to admit that his guilt made him worthy of death, and of the wrath of man and God.  All of us, when we are honest, agree that certain acts require restitution and retribution.  If this is true of our sins against other people, should our crimes against the Righteous and Holy King of Heaven go unpunished?  Confession admits that we are sinners, and that our sins alone have justly placed us under the wrath of God.